CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Larry King said he's made a habit out of never preparing too much for an interview.
King, of course, is one of the most famous interviewers in television and radio history. Over the course of 55 years, King has sat across the table from everyone from heads of state and captains of industry to movie stars and the latest pop sensations.
Other people, the 78-year-old late-night radio/TV icon said, have their own way.
"Mike Wallace, who's a great friend -- who's not doing very well by the way -- he worked incredibly prepared. He had to know everything you ever said in your entire life -- and I thought he was wonderful."
But that was never the way King could do it.
"I liked it better the less I knew," he said.
From those 55 years in "the business," King has a lot of stories. Thursday night he'll be sharing a few of them at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington in a show called "Larry King: Standing Up."
For most of Larry King's career he's adhered to some basic guidelines.
"I never used the word 'I,'" he explained. "I never involved myself. Everybody on television does that now. It's always, 'I thought this. What do you think?' I never did that. What the guest thought counted. What I thought didn't.
"I was a conduit. I'd leave the ego at the door because I was coming back the next night.
"Interviewing was for me to draw the best I could out of the guests, ask the best questions I could and listen to the answers."
King got into the business of interviewing national newsmakers and celebrities almost by accident. While living in Miami Beach, he took a job as a disc jockey of a morning radio show at a restaurant.
"It was a very successful restaurant," he said. "It just wasn't busy at 10 in the morning."
King interviewed whoever came through the door. One morning, crooner Bobby Darin walked in.
"There was no way I could plan for Bobby Darin," he said.
But he interviewed him anyway, and eventually Jimmy Hoffa, Ed Sullivan and Danny Thomas all passed through the door and got behind King's microphone.
"So that was just the way I started," King said. "When I went to nighttime, we started doing more talk and I had producers. They'd give me a background sheet, but they never handed me prepared questions."
He liked working off the top of his head.
Of course, sometimes he acknowledged it would have been nice to have known a little more.
In the mid-1980s, King had Apple CEO John Sculley on his program. Apple had been in turmoil, but the company at the time was growing.
"We talked for 90 minutes and he left," King said. "We opened up the phones and the first call was asking me why I didn't ask him about why he fired Steve Jobs?"
King hadn't known.
"I should have known," he groaned. "I never asked, and I should have asked. That's embarrassing."
It's hard not to miss that King sort of misses his old job at CNN. He misses being part of the nightly news/talk landscape, but he's proud of his accomplishments.
"We're in the Guinness Book of World Records," he laughed.