After 33 years in late-night television – including 22 as host of CBS’ “Late Show” – David Letterman will retire May 20.
Three days, three more shows to go.
The end of an era.
“We knew about it a year ago, and we just didn’t believe it,” Alan Kalter – voice of the “Late Show” – said on CBS Spots Radio’s Gio and Jones. “And I’ve still got three days for Dave to change his mind because otherwise, what am I going to do? It’s been fantastic. It really has been a great 20 years. I’m looking forward to the next three days. Everybody who’s listening to your show right now – instead of watching any of the ice hockey and football and baseball – (should watch our show this week).”
And for good reason. The show will go out with a bang this week, as Tom Hanks and Eddie Vetter are slated to appear Monday, and Bill Murray and Bob Dylan will appear Tuesday. And then there’s Wednesday.
“Wednesday is filled with surprises,” Kalter said, “but I’ve been told that Elvis is still in the building and is coming back.”
Will Tupac be on as well? Brian Jones wondered.
“Tupac and the Beatles,” Kalter said, laughing. “We’re going to have a ball. It’s going to be really memorable.”
Kalter, who has been Letterman’s announcer since September 1995, has enjoyed every minute of his time on the show. He was asked if Wednesday will bring a deluge a tears.
“I think Thursday is going to be a deluge of tears,” Kalter said. “We’ve been hugging each other for weeks now. It’s been fun – with some of them – but it’s been great. It’s a family. The thing that I’m going to miss the most about the show is 4:30 to 5:30 every afternoon – I laugh. I have fun. And no matter what happens before that in the day, it doesn’t matter. I lose it for that hour, and I’m not going to have that anymore.”
Kalter, a Brooklyn native, is a fan of New York-area teams, while Letterman, an Indianapolis native, is partial to the Colts and Pacers, among others. But their favorite sports guests (at least Kalter’s)? The golfers.
“Those golfers, they’re so nice,” Kalter said. “And we get them on just after they win the Masters, so it doesn’t matter what type of personality they have; they are floating. They are high when they come on to Letterman. They’re the people I want to spend a lot of time with.”
Looking back, though, Kalter doesn’t have a favorite guest per se.
“Really, I don’t,” he said. “I don’t. Everybody that’s been on the show has been great. I think part of that is the fact that Dave will take somebody who’s maybe not 100 percent my favorite, and then in that 10 or 15 minutes he has on there will make it into a fantastic 10, 15 minutes. So afterwards I go, ‘Wow, you got to see that.’ And it’s not necessarily somebody that everybody’s going to want to see.”
Kalter has also greatly appreciated Letterman’s willingness – if not insistence – to involve him in sketches.
“I started (this gig thinking) I was just going to be an announcer, and the first day he threw me into a pool,” Kalter said. “So the stuff that I do now has just been so much fun. Everything that I do is stuff my mother wouldn’t let me do when I was 10, and I can do it now and not get punished for it and get paid for it. That’s a joy. Everybody who at a young age can pick something and get thrown into something that they love for the rest of their lives, that’s amazing.”
Wednesday will be bittersweet for Kalter, 72. He doesn’t want the show to end, but he’ll also have an opportunity to do things he’s always wanted to do.
“I’m going to be free,” he said. “I hope the phone rings every once in a while, but the freedom is great,” Kalter said. “I’m looking forward to this – playing some golf, taking some time off, doing a little bit of traveling. My wife, Peggy, has been waiting for me to take some time so I don’t have to be someplace on a Monday morning and now I don’t have to. But there’s going to be a lot of stuff in the future. I know it’s going to be good.”