King Harris, a Central Coast broadcaster and journalist, died Tuesday night at the age of 75, announced KVEC Hometown Radio host Dave Congalton.
Congalton says he had lunch with Harris Tuesday afternoon prior to Harris collapsing at his Arroyo Grande home that night. Paramedics were reportedly unable to revive him.
“King had health issues, but he was in good spirits the whole time. We’re all in shock at the news. Total shock,” Congalton said.
Harris served as the news director at KEYT in Santa Barbara from 1980 to 1997 and also taught journalism classes at Cal Poly for two years before becoming news director at radio station KVEC in San Luis Obispo.
He also served as New Times managing editor, wrote weekly “It’s Good to be King” columns for local newspaper Tolosa Press, and worked as a news producer at KCOY-TV. Harris returned to KVEC in 2007 where he worked as a morning news anchor until retiring in 2015.
However, Harris could still be heard on the airwaves up until his death, making regular appearances Friday afternoons on KVEC “to salute his favorite music of the 1950s and 60s,” according to a news release.
Congalton says Harris was a Vietnam veteran and in 1988, accompanied then UCSB professor Walter Capps and a group of other veterans to the Soviet Union. The journey was featured in the award-winning documentary “Brothers in Arms.”
Congalton describes Harris as “a friend, colleague, mentor, and personal hero. My favorite radio memories all involve the times I shared with King Harris,” Congalton said. He truly was the King.”
Congalton says he will be celebrating Harris’ career on his show on KVEC Wednesday starting at 3:05 p.m.
Other remembrance or funeral plans have not yet been announced.