Radio legend Ed Walker dies at 83, three hours after final broadcast

Retiring radio legend Ed Walker talks with former on-air partner, WTOP's Bruce Alan on Oct. 16, 2015

WASHINGTON — Radio pioneer Ed Walker, whose “Joy Boys” broadcasts with Willard Scott dominated Washington’s airwaves in the 1960s, has died at age 83, three hours after his final broadcast.

Walker, who was born blind, “died quietly in his sleep at 2 a.m.” says Ken Mellgren, Walker’s longtime friend and former boss at WWRC.

“He was in no pain,” Mellgren told WTOP.

Walker was recently diagnosed with cancer. Last week he recorded his final broadcast of “The Big Broadcast” for WAMU from his hospital room. The final installment was replayed Sunday evening.

In a tweet, WAMU said “We are very sad to announce our friend Ed Walker passed away this morning, after listening to his final show with his family.”

Last week, after making his diagnosis public, Walker invited WTOP’s Bruce Alan for an informal interview at his assisted living facility.

Walker and Alan co-hosted a morning talk show at WWRC from 1987 to 1990.

Alan said his friend’s condition worsened quickly in the past week.

“When we talked about his career a week ago he was clearly enjoying the memories and the experiences,  and telling stories of fun times,” says Alan.

On Monday, Willard Scott shared some of his memories of Walker, who he met when they both were students at American University.

“We were dear friends, he was like a brother. I never had a brother, and he never had a brother. But the two of us were absolutely inseparable,” Scott recalled. “He taught me humility, and I say that in a most positive sense. Because I was always the ‘second banana,’ no matter what we did or where we went.”

Mellgren says Walker’s family is working on funeral arrangements, which are expected to include a public memorial.

Watch this clip from The Joy Boys final show:

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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