King Ready for ‘State of the Union' at CNN

New Sunday talk show debuts this weekend

Yes, for readers curious as to whether CNN's chief national correspondent John King will infuse his new Sunday morning talk show with his technology savvy, there will be use of the magic map-the massive interactive touch screen that became an iconographic part of CNN's election coverage (and which King himself spoofed in a skit on The Daily Show).

"We have a new and improved version of the magic map that has been delivered to us here in Washington," King said in an interview with B&C.  "It's being installed in our new studio here and it's a great tool to help inform people." 

CNN is looking to capitalize on John King's "break out" election coverage with State of the Union with John King, a new talk show that debuts Jan. 18 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  The show replaces Late Edition, hosted by Wolf Blitzer, which had held the 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday slot at CNN since 1993. 

"We want to build on the foundation of Late Edition and the tradition of the good Sunday shows which is to have smart newsmaker interviews," King said in an interview.  Yet he also expressed a desire to be different, to get outside Washington (a frequent criticism of the Sunday talk-show circuit is the Beltway's encumbering provincialism) and cover stories from the perspective of ordinary Americans.  "I'm not going to sit at my desk all week thinking ‘what am I going to do on Sunday?'" he said.

King, 44, doesn't think CNN brought him in to host the Sunday show solely because he can attract younger viewers but he does concede that there is a "less traditional" audience consisting of young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and independents that the networks hopes will be attracted to his show. 

King says the magic map may have helped draw in some younger viewers.  "That technology connected with all of our viewers but I think especially younger viewers...they're just more comfortable with using technology, I think that helps (build an audience) a little bit," he said.  Still, with a number of long-established Sunday talk shows already in the time slot and his friend David Gregory taking over at Meet the Press, King knows building an audience will be a challenge.

The first Sunday for State of the Union will be heavy on live inaugural coverage with CNN's self-proclaimed "Best Political Team on Television," adding commentary and analysis.  King will be travelling to a manufacturing factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio to interview Obama on Friday for Blitzer's weekday news-show The Situation Room.  After the Inauguration festivities settle down, he plans on taking the show on the road in the first few weeks, though he won't disclose where to just yet.  "I have some ideas," King said.