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Larry King signs off

The man behind the microphone has hung up his suspenders.

After a quarter of a century (and more than 6,000 shows), CNN's “Larry King Live” ended its run Thursday night.

“It’s not very often in my life that I’ve been without words,” King, clad in red suspenders and a red-and-white polka-dot tie, said at the close of his show. “I never thought it would last this long or come to this.”

A gathering spot for ambitious politicians and repentant celebrities for 25 years, the cable news network's showpiece in prime time bid adieu with a gaggle of guests, with King protege Ryan Seacrest serving as a veritable ringmaster. Bill Maher and Phil McGraw ("Dr. Phil") joined Seacrest and King in the L.A. studio; others including President Obama, former President Clinton, Katie Couric, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin and Tony Bennett joined in via satellite. 

At the start of the show, Maher cautioned against eulogizing King: "This is the end of a show, not the end of this man.”

While some people have criticized the veteran host’s interview style over the course of his career as too lenient or lacking in preparation, on Thursday night he was king.

As he rested his chin on his hand, his trademark move, each guest lauded his impact on broadcast TV.  Brian Williams, host of “NBC Nightly News,” noted how King’s show was “America’s confessional.” Veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters joked that his departure meant less competition for her. The Rev. Billy Graham, in a letter read by Seacrest, said King’s absence would be “greatly missed in my evening routine.”

There’s no denying King's gift for gab: He's done nearly 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career that included a stint in radio prior to joining CNN.

But the tech-savvy 77-year-old host announced in late June, via Twitter, that he would end his nightly CNN gig. King is not abandoning the network completely; he will host specials on CNN.

His decision to sign off from his evening duties comes as the network has experienced a steep decline in the ratings this year. CNN for the year to date ranks in third place in prime time, and is a distant No. 2 to Fox News in total-day ratings (1.1 million vs. 435,000 average). Once cable TV’s top-rated program, “Larry King Live” averaged just 700,000 viewers this year.

Despite King's broadcasting legacy, the end of his reign was met without hullabaloo from the channel he spearheaded. The CNN promotion machine, instead, has switched its focus to the future of the network: British talk show host and "America's Got Talent" judge Piers Morgan, who will take over the time slot in January with “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

But King, after all, is a minimalist. In his signature style, he ended things simply: “Instead of goodbye, how about ‘so long’?

Always asking the questions.

-- Yvonne Villarreal


As CNN says goodbye, Larry King's greatest gaffes, goofs and bloopers
On the eve of Larry King exit, CNN tries to paint happy face on record low ratings


Photo: Larry King. Credit: CNN


Comments () | Archives (29)

Good luck Larry, you'll be mist!!!!

I always appreciated his fairness. I never knew which side of an issue he supported and feel that was a magnificent accomplishment as a host. He remained neutral. I love that he didn't gouge people, and that the interviewee was more important than the interviewer.

During the weeks after 9-11 I was glued to cnn and Larry King. Every night he'd have interviews that were riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring. Wishing him the best of luck and great success in the next chapter. Thanks for the memories.

At least half of his interviews were spot on.......good, incisive questioning, what I'd call "Chris Matthews lite". But then, on occasion, they'd get asinine, like the one with the gal who was involved or maybe married to Jim Carrey(unfortunately, can't now think of her name)but it was a pretty vapid exchange if you ask me.

CNN cries the blues about low ratings and puts the blame on its neutrality. That's lazy. The truth is that audiences are tuning out because the network has outdated production values, poor segment stacking within shows, superficial coverage (often on days-old wire stories) and guest bookings that appear to be handled by interns. Nowhere has this been more apparent in recent years than on LKL. It's unfortunate that King and his EP never thought or chose to flex their muscle within the organization to make some minor improvements that would evolve LKL into a more contemporary, higher-quality show without tampering with the core elements that made it successful. I'm one of the countless news junkies tired of the endless screaming heads and silly "coverage" of the other 2 cable networks but CNN, most visibly with LKL, has not given me a viable appealing alternative. Unfortunately, it appears that Piers Morgan will only be injecting bluster, faux drama and desperate attempts to land himself some Twitter buzz and headlines. That is not an appealing option.

Hey, Lou, do you extend the "hard work" moniker to Limbaugh? #1 in talk radio for 20 years, now.

I've heard rumors Larry King may become a Soul Train dancer. He could do it.

What a joke and scumbag this guy is. Is he gonna spend the rest of his time with his 8th or 9th wife or maybe the sister of his wife? I love when Howard Stern bags on Larry and puts him in his place. Larry should of been taken off the air 10 years ago that 85 year old hack.

I think it's awesome he was able to get through the show without breaking down in tears. John Boehner certainly wouldn't have been able to.

All the best to Larry King, thank you for the all those great shows.
But why replace Larry with Piers Morgan??? Surely America has tons of talented people to take over! why chose Morgan?? WHY?
He is as bland as English tea. Worse.

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