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Making the most of 9 p.m.

TV personality Larry King during the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: If the name Piers Morgan meant nothing to you until this morning, I know just how you feel. Mr. Morgan is, apparently, in line to take Larry King's job on CNN. Morgan is a Brit, best known here as the mean judge on the NBC show America's Got Talent. CNN's hoping Morgan's got some, too. Talent, that is. Because the 9 o' clock p.m. slot that Larry King's called home for the past 25 years is a crucial one for cable news.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh explains why.


Eve Troeh: When TV executives look at their nightly ratings, media consultant Michael Castengera says there's one shape they don't want to see: A hammock.

Michael Castengera: Each program is hung between another program. Well, if the hammock sags too low, it tells you the viewers went away and they may not come back.

Castengera says Larry King Live started to droop between CNN's 8 p.m. and 10 clock p.m. shows.

Castengera: There was a dip to Larry King and then a slight rise back up to Anderson Cooper.

King's been losing because of stiff competition from other cable news networks. But the other channels actually put their strongest hosts in that slot because of King. Bill Carroll is with Katz Television Group. He says for decades, King was the man to beat.

Bill Carroll: Larry became the one constant and the most important place on CNN. And as a result, over time, that's become the key time period, where the real battle and the real recognition comes.

Katz says other network fragmented King's audience, intentionally programming against his down the middle style.

Carroll: Each of the major competition have staked out a different approach: More personality-driven and more driven by a political point of view.

King's more staid manner may be disappearing from cable news, but Katz says the legacy of 9 p.m. as the cable news prime time will remain.

In Los Angeles, I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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