Larry King Tweets Unlike Anybody Else


(By leaving voicemail messages for an assistant)

by  | March 21, 2015
Larry King in 2012.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Larry King in 2012

WASHINGTON — Each weekday morning, legendary broadcaster Larry King, 81, wakes up and takes his 14-year-old son to school. Then he drives to a Beverly Hills salon to have his hair washed and combed before heading to a bagel shop, where he and a regular crew of old Brooklyn friends sit around and solve the world’s most pressing problems.

“Last week we solved Iraq,” he says proudly.

Later he’ll read five or six newspapers and have lunch with an associate. There might be a nap, perhaps dinner at a nice restaurant. And interspersed throughout the day, there will be stints of “work,” though he doesn’t call it that, because it’s never felt like that.

He’ll tape an edition of one of his two online talk shows or call in for a guest spot on a sports radio program. He’ll record his monthly L.A. Dodgers radio show or draft a speech for an upcoming event. And he’ll definitely tweet — just not the way anyone else in the world does it.

“I Twitter everyday,” he says in his hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, where he was staying in advance of a Wednesday night appearance at the Newseum.

When Larry King wants to tweet, he doesn’t log onto the Internet. He pops open the flip phone stored in the shirt pocket between his suspender straps and calls the number for a voicemail set up specifically for this purpose. Then he dictates a thought that will be picked up by an assistant and transcribed onto his @KingsThings Twitter account. And nearly 2.6 million followers are there to receive it.

King tried to retire, but it didn’t work out. He left CNN after 25 years in December 2010 and kicked around for a few months, presumably driving his seventh wife, Shawn, the mother of their two teenage sons, a little bonkers. (They had filed for divorce earlier that year but have since reconciled.)

It was May 2, 2011, when King knew he had to get back in the game. He was watching television with friends and the news broke that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. “I literally jumped up and wanted some place to go. And I had no place to go to talk about that story,” he recalls. “And that really hit me. I was sad. I missed communicating. I missed doing what I do.”

So when billionaire financier Carlos Slim suggested that they team up to work together on a new venture, King immediately agreed — even before it was entirely clear what that venture would be. He credits his wife with the idea for an Internet television network. They named it Ora TV, in honor of Shawn’s middle name.

CNN estimates that at its peak, each edition of his network program, “Larry King Live,” reached 1 billion people in 212 countries. By comparison, Ora TV’s “Larry King Now” attracts just 8 million viewers each month.

But frankly, Larry King couldn’t care less. “I’m still doing the same thing,” he says. “I’m delivered differently, but I don’t treat it any differently. There’s a guest. There’s a camera.”

Monica Almeida/NYT

Monica Almeida/NYTLarry King on the set of his former program ‘Larry King Live’ in 2007. CNN estimates that at its peak the show reached 1 billion people in 212 countries.


And there is Larry King’s unmistakable voice. It was always going to be this way. As a Jewish kid in Brooklyn, his fellow elementary school students dubbed him “Larry the Mouthpiece.” He’d imitate radio announcers in his bedroom and sit in the rafters at Brooklyn Dodgers’ games, calling the plays into a rolled-up scorecard.

After high school he took odd jobs — selling milk delivery services and driving a UPS truck — and that, he says, “was the last time I worked.”

Everything since — a Miami radio career that led to local television and then a national radio show and then CNN — has been fun. “Basically what it comes down to is I love what I do. I don’t do it for fame. I don’t do it for money. I just love it,” he says. “I just love asking questions. I love people. It’s in my DNA. I’m cursed — and blessed.”



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