Larry King retires

A replacement for “Larry King Live” was announced last week. CNN has selected British journalist Piers Morgan to fill in as the prime-time news program’s host.

Morgan, 45, may be familiar to North Americans for his appearances on reality shows such as “America’s Got Talent” and “Celebrity Apprentice”.

The exact name of the show has not been released yet, but the network stated that it would be a “candid, in-depth newsmaker interview program.”

The much-anticipated news of Larry King’s replacement follows King’s announcement this past June that, much to the dismay of devoted late-night entertainment news enthusiasts, he will “hang up [his] nightly suspenders” as of January 2011. For over 25 years, the cartoon-like news anchor has hosted CNN’s “Larry King Live”, while conducting over 50,000 interviews during his broadcasting career.

Perhaps what is so unique about King is his approach to his interviews. Always calm and collected, he asked short questions to the point and never researched his guests before hand. He reveals that this method helped him ask questions that the average viewer would want to know the answers to. For instance, if he were interviewing an author, he says he would never read their book beforehand, as he wanted “to be in the same boat as the audience.” In contrast to other news anchors and television hosts, Larry states,” I left my ego at the door… [because] I never learned a thing from talking.”

The unpretentious New Yorker has interviewed thousands of people from various walks of life from Snoop Dogg to Sarah Palin to Oprah Winfrey.

Ian Steinberg, who is currently teaching a communications course on television studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, explains the appeal of Larry King through his choice of guests: “Speaking as a fan of trash T.V., I thank him for his legacy. He had guests that could have easily been on Howard Stern appearing on CNN.”

Steinberg adds that King played an important role in the entertainment industry as he gave these “oddball, sensationalist news stories… an international mainstream venue.”

Although recently veering towards Hollywood stars, King has been known for his controversial interviews with politicians and reports on political news. In 1993, King hosted an intense debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement between Vice- President Al Gore and his opponent Ross Perot. Following the debate, public opinion on the agreement swayed considerably.

Despite his age of 76 and last quarter’s ratings being the lowest ever in the program’s history, King asserts that he felt no pressure to leave from CNN. Instead, King says that he is simply “tired of the nightly grind.”

However, many speculate that the decision to step down was heavily influenced by his increasingly troubled family life.

Earlier in 2010, news regarding the failing marriage between King and his seventh wife, as well as her subsequent drug overdose, was made public. Nonetheless, King insists that his personal troubles played no part in his choice to leave the show and would have made the same decision whether he was “divorced, single or married.”