Larry King signed off from his eponymous talk show for the last time on Thursday, ending his twenty-five-year run as a CNN primetime host.
The 77-year-old was farewelled by a cavalcade of politicians, journalists, television personalities and other public figures on the final edition of Larry King Live, which has aired on the news network since June 1985.
In his final sign-off, King thanked his staff and executives at the network, and reiterated his stated intention to continue working with CNN on various special programmes from next year.
"You're not going to see me go away. But you're not going to see me here on this set anymore. For two weeks, they're going to be playing highlight shows.
"I don't know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you. And instead of good-bye, how about so long?"
Among those to pay tribute to King's career was President Barack Obama, who said that King was "one of the giants of broadcasting".
"You say that all you do is ask questions. But for generations of Americans, the answers to those questions have surprised us, they have informed us, and they have opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms," he said.
The anchors of the broadcast networks' news bulletins, Diane Sawyer (ABC World News), Brian Williams (NBC Nightly News) and Katie Couric (CBS Evening News) all appeared in the final broadcast, along with the veteran journalist and presenter Barbara Walters.
King's replacement, the former tabloid editor and television personality Piers Morgan, will take over the 9:00pm (ET) timeslot from next year with Piers Morgan Tonight.
A mixed legacy
Despite the tributes on his final edition, there was no shortage of criticism among media commentators. King often avoided pursuing interviewees with follow-up questions, and was criticised for offering soft questions to the many high-profile figures who appeared on his programme.
Ken Auletta, The New Yorker's media critic, told PBS's NewsHour that King's ability to secure celebrities and politicians arose from his guests' confidence that they would not be asked difficult questions.
"It was a comfortable place, a safe place for people to come and basically show their leg. They could say what they wanted: Larry King was not an aggressive interviewer. He got a lot of good information out of people, but essentially it was a safe environment," Auletta said.
"Contrast that with good interview shows... there's an element of surprise, an element of fear that people have: what am I going to get asked? And you never had that with Larry King."
By the end of its run, viewers appeared to have tired of King's style. At its height in 1998, Larry King Live was watched by an average of 1.636 million people each night. But this year was the programme's worst on record: viewers switched off in droves, sending the show's average audience plummeting below the 700,000 viewer mark.
King's fortunes have mirrored those of CNN itself: the once-influential network now finds itself mired in third place among the cable news networks, struggling to stay above water as it continues shake up its personnel on-screen and behind the scenes.
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