Geoff Edwards dies at 83; L.A. radio and TV personality
An iconic Bay Area tunnel, commonly known as the Waldo Tunnel or Rainbow Tunnel, will be named after the late actor Robin Williams.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Geoff Edwards, a Los Angeles radio personality and TV game show host who for years flew weekly to Sacramento to emcee the California Lottery’s “Big Spin,” died Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.
He was 83.
His death was caused by complications from pneumonia, his agent Fred Wostbrock said.
Over the years, Edwards hosted 10 game shows, including “Jackpot” and “Treasure Hunt.”
On radio, he was a clever talker who sprinkled music and news with homegrown bits like “The Answer Lady.” That was simply Edwards answering listeners’ questions, often comically, without even pretending to imitate a female voice.
But there was also a serious side to his radio personality.
In 1989, he left KFI after refusing to air station promotions touting a fellow host’s planned destruction of recordings by singer Cat Stevens, who had become a Muslim and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. On air, Edwards called Tom Leykis’s upcoming record-burning “fascist.”
“If this radio station is supporting that,” Edwards told listeners, “then I’m out of here. I don’t want to work here.”
Leykis, who called off the burning because of potential air pollution problems, instead crushed a pile of 200 Cat Stevens records and tapes with a steamroller. It was payback, he said, for Stevens supporting the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s death edict against author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy.
Edwards, who had been suspended, quit. His 9 a.m.-to-noon program was replaced by the syndicated “Rush Limbaugh Show.”
Born Feb. 15, 1931, in Westfield, N.J., Geoffrey Bruce Owen Edwards attended Duke University and later worked as a disc jockey at WOKO-AM in Albany, N.Y. Two years later, he was running a jazz show on San Diego’s KFMB and then traveled up the coast to radio jobs in Los Angeles at KHJ, KMPC and KFI.
“He was a very talented, very hip individual,” said longtime radio and TV personality Gary Owens. “He could comment on just about anything in the news.”
Branching into TV with “Jackpot” in the early 1970s, Edwards “helped change the look of game shows,” his agent said.
“He had long hair, he never wore a tie, he had an unbuttoned shirt with a gold chain, jeans and boots,” Wostbrock said. “In 1974, that was really dramatic.”
In 1978 and 1979, he was a celebrity panelist on a syndicated show called “The Love Experts.” One of his fellow panelists was a young comic named Dave Letterman.
In the 1980s, Edwards hosted “Starcade,” where contestants battled via arcade video games.
Edwards also worked as a travel writer and came back from a 2003 Tahitian cruise to a job offer at KSUR — nicknamed “The Surf.”
“The next day by noon, I was enslaved again,” he joked to a Times reporter.
Edwards’ survivors include his wife Michael, sons Todd and Chess, daughter Shawn, stepsons Justin Feffer and Jason Feffer and nine grandchildren.
A previous marriage ended in divorce.
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