Larry King, who has interviewed statesmen and stars from a prime-time perch at CNN for 25 years but has seen his ratings sag recently, said Tuesday that he will step down this fall from his nightly show.
“It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders,” King said in a message sent to fans via Twitter.
King said he will do occasional specials for CNN. He reached his 25-year anniversary this month and takes pride in a Guinness Book of World Records citation for hosting the longest-running show on the same network in the same time slot.
The long-time radio host was a pioneer in cable television, his desk considered a valued spot to sit for anyone interested in talking to the nation. King’s interview style was plain-spoken and critics would suggest occasionally ill-prepared, but he was good at making his guests feel comfortable and ready to talk.
As cable news audiences gravitated toward politically pointed shows and newsmakers found many more outlets for interviews, King slipped behind Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the ratings. The 76-year-old broadcast veteran made people wonder if he was disconnected during interviews with the likes of Lady Gaga.
King said he felt no pressure from CNN to leave. He said he began thinking about stepping down as his 25th anniversary week ended, after he interviewed LeBron James, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.
He’s conducted an estimated 50,000 interviews during a 53-year broadcasting career.
CNN is in the midst of remaking its prime-time lineup, and last week announced that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker would co-host an 8 p.m. EDT show on politics and current events.
CNN executives often have said that when “Larry King Live” ends, it won’t necessarily be replaced by a similar show. Recent published reports have suggested that “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan could be a candidate for a show in that time slot. CBS’ Katie Couric has been considered a potential successor, although that talk has cooled lately.
King said if it was up to him, Ryan Seacrest would be the best choice to fill his shoes.
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