CNN's Larry King says he'll hang up his suspenders after 25 years of his prime time show. But who will replace him?
King told CBS News shortly after the announcement, "If it was up to me, I'd have Ryan Seacrest do it."
But those are some big suspenders to fill.
Statesmen, newsmakers and Hollywood stars have sat across from King's desk for plain-spoken interviews. In total, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reported, King has done about 50,000 interviews.
King called it quits last night, saying on-air, "Twenty-five years ago, I sat at this table across from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast ever of 'Larry King Live,' and now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and told them I'd like to end 'Larry King Live.'"
The 76 year-old King says he felt no pressure from CNN to leave.
CBS News was the first to speak to him, just after his show. King said he wants to do other things.
He called the decision "bittersweet."
He told CBS News. "It was my decision I made it, but it was hard to talk to the staff, and I know down the road I'm gonna miss it."
King says he wants to spend more time with his family. He's been married eight times to seven different women, and nearly split with current wife Shawn Southwick. They have since reconciled.
With a 53 year broadcasting career, he is known for his direct, but non-confrontational style. He says he's always tried to keep it simple.
He told CBS News, "I never presume what my guests would say. I listened to answers. I asked short questions, left my ego at the door and I had a motto through my whole career is that I never learned anything when I was talking. That's true to this day."
King was recently entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the longest-running show on the same network in the same time slot.
Howard Kurtz, media reporter for the Washington Post and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," said on "The Early Show" Wednesday that King wanted to walk away on his own terms.
Kurtz said, "Let's not forget, his ratings have declined by almost half in the last year. ... This is a guy who revolutionized cable television. You know putting on a radio show, with people calling in, presidents, politicians come on, none of that had been done before but he was an institution whose time had passed. I think he came to recognize that with the family problems, ratings problems and maybe just a sense at 76 it was time to move on."
Kurtz said King spoke with him last night about his 25th anniversary on the program.
Kurtz said, "He interviewed President Obama, Lady Gaga, Bill Gates and LeBron James. He said, 'I ain't going to top this,' and maybe it was time to move on to another chapter in his life."
"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith noted, "You have to think about CNN in its infancy 25 years ago. This is the guy who put CNN on the map."
Kurtz agreed, adding, "In 1992, when Ross Perot essentially launched his candidacy on 'Larry King Live' then Bill Clinton went on, and first president Bush went on. Bill Clinton made three appearances in his first two years as president. We take this for granted now, they all go on 'The Daily Show,' Leno and Letterman, but at the time it was a way of circumventing the Washington press corps. And Bill Clinton said Larry King liberated me by giving me to the American people directly."
So can anyone really take Larry King's place?
Smith remarked there is no succession at CNN to replace him.
Kurtz said, "I don't think CNN management wanted to pick up the newspaper and have Larry read they were grooming a potential successor. I've heard the same names batted about, British journalist Piers Morgan, Ryan Seacrest I guess is Larry's candidate, there's been talk about Katie Couric if she were to leave CBS. But the real question is: ... is there room in bipartisan cable TV universe for this type of universe for this kind of variety show where you're talking to a president one day and Lady Gaga the next? Losing ratings to Sean Hannity at Fox, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. It's a lot more opinionated out there than Larry ever allowed himself to be."
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