CNN is preparing for a summertime search to find the successor to Larry King, who announced that he’s leaving the show that has been an integral part of the news network’s lineup for 25 years.
Even though the host is changing, CNN will keep to the idea of a provocative interview show with newsmakers, CNN US President Jon Klein said.
“Nobody else does it,” he said. “It’s an important tool in the arsenal, and we want to keep it going.”
King’s announcement came a couple of weeks after he celebrated his 25th anniversary with a week of shows interviewing President Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Lady Gaga – precisely the unique blend of stars and statesmen he considered the signature of Larry King Live.
King said he will continue to do occasional specials for CNN after stepping down in the autumn.
The longtime radio host was a pioneer in cable television. From the first show, on which 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 plainspoken, and critics would suggest occasionally ill-prepared, but he was good at making his guests feel comfortable.
Klein said King was a pioneer. “He lured so many people to this new frontier of cable back before anybody understood what it was all about,” said Klein.
King said he felt no pressure from CNN to leave. “I’m tired of the nightly grind,” he said. “I do want to do other things, but I want to stay at CNN in some way... There’s a case of great mixed emotions.”
King told his staff on Tuesday during a conference call he referred to as “one of the saddest 10 minutes of my life”.
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.
CBS News anchor Katie Couric has long been considered a potential successor to King. That talk has cooled lately with suggestions that Couric may be reluctant to take responsibility for another network with ratings troubles; Klein would not discuss specific candidates. Recent published reports have suggested that America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan could be a candidate. King said if it were up to him, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest would be the best choice to fill his shoes.
King estimated he’s conducted 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, leaving his ego at the door.
“I never learned a thing while I was talking. That would be my motto.”
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