LARRY KING: Talk Show Legend, CNN Pillar, Dead at 87

He actually had a storied career in radio and television even before he became known worldwide with his talk show on cable network CNN, but it was on that talk show which carried his name, that Larry King became a household word around the globe. His then-uncommon interview style made all of his guests comfortable enough to talk without the least concern of having their opinions challenged. Thus, King got to talk with such a wide variety of people, from celebrities to politicians and even convicted killers, an incomparable feat. It is thus a sad day for mass media that this particular giant finally fell.

CNN.com has it that legendary TV and radio personality Larry King passed away this January 23, at the age of 87. The sad news was broken by his son Chance on the morning of Saturday, as well as on his authenticated Facebook page. The latter carried an official statement revealing that King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause of death had been announced, but it was publicized only this January 2 that King was hospitalized at that hospital in December of last year due to COVID-19.

The Larry King “method” of interviewing was ably demonstrated by the man himself on “Larry King Live” in the over 25 years that it had been part of the CNN programming lineup. While he followed the standard Q&A format, King made a point of letting those he interviewed speak their piece without interruption from him. He was non-confrontational; his questions were open-ended; he rarely read up on his guests’ works; and he put them at ease by the way he leaned forward to listen intently to what they say. The total number of King’s CNN interviews was a staggering 30,000, all divided into 6,000 episodes of his show before he officially retired back in 2010.

Colleagues particularly on CNN were devastated at Larry King’s passing. Network founder Ted Turner said he felt the announcement like a “punch in the gut.” CNN President Jeff Zucker hailed King as one of the factors that made the pioneering news channel a staple on cable TV. From the Dalai Lama to Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, from Yasser Arafat to all US Presidents starting from Gerald Ford, King helped CNN audiences learn more from them at the same time he did. The world of news media is lesser now that he is gone.Image courtesy of CBS News

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