Culture

Larry King, Legendary Radio and TV Broadcaster, Dies at 87

Jake A. Herrle

Larry King, whose interview show was legendary for hosting politicians, Hollywood stars, villains, and heroes, died of unannounced causes, his website announced Saturday.

King’s 63 years on-air spanned the entire communications revolution. He first appeared on the radio for two decades before moving to host Larry King Live on CNN from 1985-2010, and ended up on a digital platform, Ora TV.

“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster,” Ora Media said on Twitter. It’s a remarkable record and a testament to King’s skills as an interviewer.

“Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions,” Ora Media said. “He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”

“Larry’s interviews from his 25-year run on CNN’s ‘Larry King Live,’ and his Ora Media programs ‘Larry King Now,’ and ‘Politicking with Larry King’ are consistently referenced by media outlets around the world and remain part of the historical record of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.”

King’s style was more conversational than confrontational, even though he interviewed some of the most controversial personalities of the day.

CNN:

With an affable, easygoing demeanor that distinguished him from more intense TV interviewers, King perfected a casual approach to the Q&A format, always leaning forward and listening intently to his guests, rarely interrupting.

“I’ve never learned anything,” King was fond of saying, “while I was talking.”

For 25 years, he hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN, a span that was highlighted by more than 30,000 interviews, including every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama, and thousands of phone calls from viewers.

He was the antithesis of the “gotcha” school of journalism, which is probably why politicians and celebrities sought him out after becoming embroiled in scandal. His interviews couldn’t be described as “softball” but he rarely tried to penetrate below the surface of the people he was interviewing.

After he left CNN, King hooked up with the Russian broadcaster RT, which many see as a propaganda outlet for the Russian government. King always insisted that the network never told him what he could or couldn’t say or tried to dictate who he could or couldn’t interview. But some people considered his legacy tarnished by his giving legitimacy to a propaganda outlet.

A huge baseball fan, King followed the Brooklyn Dodgers when they moved to Los Angeles in 1957, where he continued to be a fixture at Dodgers games.

Married 8 times to 7 different women, King was probably a difficult person to get along with. But no matter his failings in his private life, King was a giant in the broadcasting industry who will be mourned by millions.