It's almost a year since "Larry King Live" signed off CNN as the longest-running interview show. Larry King had been at the helm for 25 years and CNN estimates he interviewed over 50,000 guests. On this Sunday's "PIX 11 Newscloseup," King gets to sit on the other side of the microphone as I fire off the questions.
"Do you miss it," I asked, "Sure do," was the rapid-fire response. "I miss it more than I thought I would.. I loved doing that show." But King insists he now gets the opportunity to do other things, in particular, he said, "The joy I get by having more time with my kids", Cannon and Shawn, 11 and 12. And he does stand-up comedy, which he says gives him a real high. And he travels the world on speaking engagements.
As for his successor, Piers Morgan, King notes, "Piers is different from me. He uses "I" a lot. We're very different, but I like him. Different doesn't mean better," he adds, "just different."
King talks about his incredible guests over the years, but says it is difficult to single any one out as his favorite. But one high point he discusses is the broadcast in which he brought together Yasser Arafat, King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin. "Doing diplomacy on the air was a real high, pretty good."
His secret to his broadcasting success, he claims, is "no secret.
Just be yourself." King has a reputation for his congenial, non-confrontational approach. "I think they know they're going to be treated fairly," he says, adding, "The guest is the star and I'm going to ask the best questions I can." And the key to a successful interview is listening, something he maintains many interviewers fail to do. King shares with me, "The most important lesson I learned a long time ago, and it's almost like a Bible. I never learned anything while I was talking."
Now 79, King reveals he always wanted to be in broadcasting. "When I was 5, I would stand in front of the mirror and imitate some of the people on the radio. King was born Larry Harvey Zeiger, in Brooklyn.
His name got changed by the general manager of the radio station in Miami where he got his first job. "He thought it was too ethnic." As he tells it, the GM picked his name out of a newspaper ad for King's Wine and Liquors.
In a thought provoking question, I asked the King of talk, who has received incredible accolades and honors, including a testimonial dinner by the Friars Club last week, if he could, who from history would he have liked to interview. "God would have been a good guest,"
he quipped. "It's a tossup. Christ or Lincoln, but the interview would have to be current so Christ could come in on what he thinks today...on what he thinks a Baptist is. What's a Catholic? He wouldn't know what they are," he continues, "He'd have to go to a Synagogue to be comfortable. With Lincoln of course, looking a the civil rights movement now. How he viewed it from his perspective from then to now."
King devotes a lot of time these days to the Larry King Cardiac Foundation which he founded. It helps with funding for people in need of heart surgery.
So how would this television icon like to be remembered by future generations. King declares, "I hope they say he was a good father, because nothing beats fatherhood. Whatever is second is a distant second."
Watch or record my entire interview with Larry King on PIX 11 Newscloseup this Sunday morning at 6 and on our website, PIX11.com/newscloseup.