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TV & Radio

Veteran CNN interviewer Larry King to quit

Veteran CNN broadcaster Larry King announced his decision to step down from his long-running show Tuesday, ending a record-breaking career that saw him conduct more than 40,000 interviews.

King, 76, said in a statement his signature show "Larry King Live" would go off the air in the autumn after 25 years, allowing him to find "more time for my wife and I to get to the kids little league games."

King's marriage to seventh wife Shawn Southwick recently appeared to be on the rocks, with the wiry anchorman filing for divorce in April before a reconciliation between the couple, according to reports.

King, one of the most recognizable figures on US television, said he still plans to work for CNN after the end of his nightly show, which has been the subject of intense speculation for months following falling ratings.

"I'll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects," he said.

The interviewer said he was proud of the fact that his show had recently entered the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot.

"With this chapter closing I'm looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it's time to hang up my nightly suspenders," he said, referring to his trademark attire.

Since starting his career in Florida as a local radio journalist and interviewer in the 1950s, King has conducted more than 40,000 interviewers with an array of personalities and celebrities which has included exclusives with every US president since Gerald Ford.

Famed for his deceptively laidback, non-confrontational interview style, King's show became the forum of choice for personalities seeking to give their side of the story.

As well as countless world leaders including the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, King's interview subjects ranged from the famous to the unashamedly quirky.

A favorite subgroup of King interviewees included prisoners. King won awards for his interviews with convicted murderers, including Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be executed in Texas, and boxer Mike Tyson.

In a 2009 interview to publicize his memoir, "My Remarkable Journey," King said he saw himself as a "conduit."

"My job is to ask the question," he told the New York Post. "The key to an interview is to really listen."

"I don't prewrite what I'll ask. My staff gives me background. I have notes and ideas but no prewritten questions. Never had a question in my head before. "It's because of how I started. My first celebrity was Bobby Darin, who arrived unexpected and I had to go from there. I liked the feeling and I've done it that way ever since."

King said his worst interview subject was the late actor Robert Mitchum.

"One-word answers. 'Yes... no... maybe... ' I'd say, so you just finished this film, right? 'Yep.'

"So what's director John Huston like? 'Good.' Your opinion of Al Pacino? 'Don't know him.' How do you feel about today's movies? 'Seen one, seen 'em all.' Afterward he asked, 'How'd I do?' I said, 'Great.'

"He said, 'I loved it. Invite me back.'"