NEW YORK – Larry King, who interviewed statesmen and stars from a prime-time perch at CNN for 25 years but has faded in ratings and influence lately, 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 marked his 25th anniversary on the air 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 longtime radio host was a pioneer in cable television. From the first show where he interviewed then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, King’s desk was considered a valued spot 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.
“He lured so many people to this new frontier of cable back before anybody understood what it was all about,” said CNN U.S. President Jon Klein, who called King a “living, breathing Hall of Famer who is still doing the work.”
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 a show on politics and current events.
The network will now begin concentrating on potential successors to King. Klein said he wanted to continue with provocative newsmaker interviews in the time slot.
King estimated he’s conducted some 50,000 interviews during a 53-year broadcasting career. He said he always tried to ask short questions and to never come in with an agenda. “I left my ego at the door,” he said.