Will King, one of the “CNN originals” who helped launch television’s first 24-hour news network, has died. “Will said he knew as far back as junior high that he wanted to work in broadcasting,” CNN worldwide president Jeff Zucker wrote in a note Friday announcing King’s passing. “I’m sure he never dreamed a career could be as rewarding as what he experienced here as an integral part of a channel that revolutionized the television industry.”
King helped launch CNN’s second network–now HLN–and worked to expand CNN in Europe, opening the network’s Frankfurt bureau in 1985, where he served as bureau chief until 1988. King work to gain distribution for the network overseas led to the creation of CNN International. “A kind, sincere and brilliant journalist, he had the unique ability to remain calm in the midst of breaking news–no matter how intense or chaotic things got,” Zucker wrote.
Another CNN original, Randy Harber, remembered the day network founder Ted Turner left CNN Center in Atlanta on his final day, leaving with a word for King:
On the day of Ted Turner’s last visit to his office in the CNN Center, my old friend and colleague Will King, who like me was there on day one, happened to ride the elevator down with Turner.
As they crossed the bridge over the food court, Will tried to express to Turner what his vision had meant to us, how proud those of us who were there at the beginning had been to be a part of it.
Turner thanked him and headed down the escalator. Then the mad man turned, threw up his hand, and shouted back to Will, “Keep the spirit!”
Here’s Zucker’s memo:
I have some sad news to share with you. Will King, a member of the CNN family for almost 35 years, passed away last night. His wife, Linda, and children, Amelia and Spencer, were at his side.
A CNN Original, Will’s fingerprints are all over CNN as he was instrumental in establishing many of the operations that are still in place today. He was part of the team tasked with creating CNN’s second news network, CNN2 (now HLN), and worked closely with Turner International for the initial distribution of CNN in Europe, which later became a full-fledged channel in CNN International.
In 1985 he opened CNN’s Frankfurt bureau, serving as bureau chief until 1988. He then returned to Atlanta as senior international editor and directed the network’s coverage of so many historic events like the fall of the Soviet Union, Tiananmen Square, the conflict in Bosnia and the first Gulf War.
Will went on to manage operations for CNN’s international bureaus, production centers, news resources and staff until health issues forced him to retire in late 2014.
Will said he knew as far back as junior high that he wanted to work in broadcasting. I’m sure he never dreamed a career could be as rewarding as what he experienced here as an integral part of a channel that revolutionized the television industry. A kind, sincere and brilliant journalist, he had the unique ability to remain calm in the midst of breaking news – no matter how intense or chaotic things got.
I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences to Will’s family – and to all of you in his CNN family – as we have truly lost an original.