Larry King may be retiring from his CNN chat show, Larry King Live, but he isn't the retiring type, a former employee told WalletPop.
Without the nightly grind after 25 years and an estimated 50,000 interviews, King could easily earn his keep making speeches, doing satellite radio, and embracing new media, said Mitch Slater, a former associate producer for Mutual Radio's The Larry King Show (1978-94). Only this time King, known for being a great listener who's a little easy on his subjects, should do the talking.
"Larry loves to hold court," Slater said to WalletPop.
Slater had lunch with King a few months ago in Washington, D.C., and said he was as sharp as ever. The 76-year-old cable star could have a host of gigs to choose from that would keep his income flowing, Slater said, adding however, "He will probably never get as lucrative a contract as CNN unless he decides to get back into the daily fray and go with Fox or another network."
King earns a base yearly salary in the $15 million range, if a 2002 New York Times report putting his pay at $7 million, with a $1 million annual raise, is accurate. For context, consider that then-NBC anchor Tom Brokaw also earned $7 million a year in 2002, according to Accuracy in Media.
WalletPop agrees that the rubber-chicken circuit could net King some hefty scratch. Heck, Bristol Palin reportedly makes between $15,000 and $30,000 per speech. At the higher end, former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. Bush were commanding about $150,000, according to the Times of London. If you put King in the middle, that's a nice payday. "I do believe he could be a great public speaker," Slater said.
He could also be a hit in academia, though the money would be a lot less. "Something very useful for him to do would be guest lecturing at all the great communications schools," Slater said, mentioning Syracuse, Penn and George Washington among them. "Kids who want to work in broadcasting can learn a lot from Larry from his interviewing skills."
This WalletPopper, who was once introduced to King by Slater, believes King, a baseball fanatic, would be a natural to kibbitz with callers on a sports radio show.
He could look into satellite radio, too, Slater suggested, limiting the hours to suit a more relaxed lifestyle. A teeny-tiny fraction of the Sirius deal that another media type, Oprah Winfrey, struck a few years ago -- and she does not even have a show -- would provide a fine golden umbrella for King in sunny Southern California, along with the occasional CNN specials that he plans to produce.
He might need the extra dough. With a reported divorce from his seventh wife pending and 9- and 11-year-old sons to support, he still has to be a bread-winner.
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