NEW YORK – Larry King, who has interviewed statesmen and stars from a prime-time perch at CNN for 25 years but has seen his ratings sag recently, said Tuesday that he will step down this fall from his nightly show.

“It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders,” King said in a message sent to fans via Twitter.

King said he will do occasional specials for CNN. He recently reached his 25-year anniversary and takes pride in a Guinness Book of World Records citation for hosting the longest-running show on the same network in the same time slot.

The longtime radio host was a pioneer in cable television, his desk considered a valued spot to sit for anyone interested in talking to the nation. King’s interview style was plain-spoken and critics would suggest occasionally ill-prepared, but he was good at making his guests feel comfortable and ready to talk.

King said he felt no pressure from CNN to leave. He said he began thinking about stepping down as his 25th anniversary week ended earlier this month, on the plane home after interviewing basketball star LeBron James. During that week, he also spoke to Bill Gates, President Obama and Lady Gaga — an apt example of the mix that he always sought on his show.

“I said, ‘I can’t top this,’” King said in an interview Tuesday.

“I’m tired of the nightly grind,” he said. “I do want to do other things but I want to stay at CNN in some way There’s a case of great mixed emotions.”

King told his staff during a conference call Tuesday that he called “one of the saddest 10 minutes of my life.”

As cable news audiences gravitated toward politically pointed shows and newsmakers found many more outlets for interviews, King slipped behind Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the ratings. During his interview with Lady Gaga, the 76-year-old had people wondering if he was connecting with a pop star a half-century his junior.

He’s conducted 50,000 interviews during a 53-year career.