In 1997, Llewellyn King set out to create a television program that would combine a civilized discussion of news and public affairs with English polymath Noel Coward’s “talent to amuse.”
“With ‘White House Chronicle,’ I wanted a comfy couch of a television program where viewers could sit back and learn something new, or think about something in a new way,” said King, who is also the program's executive producer and host.
King also wanted viewers to meet new people — particularly the many talented print journalists in Washington who rarely, if ever, appeared on television. Over the years, a few we talent-scouted have gone on to become TV fixtures.
As host of the program, King ventilates the issues of the time. He opens each episode with “a few thoughts of my own.” His unTelePrompTered commentaries range from serious to hilarious – the big challenges for big engineering, in the wake of the Gulf oil spill; running a small business (he ran a publishing firm for 36 years); taking his father’s advice not to become a copper miner in Zambia; and making proper tea. “Unlike politics, tea is very forgiving; just add more boiling water to the pot,” he said.
Viewers look forward to King's commentaries in much the same way viewers looked forward to beloved British broadcaster Alistair Cooke’s commentaries preceding PBS' Masterpiece Theater.
At a time when network television has a deficit of original thinking, “White House Chronicle” has a surfeit. Regularly, the program adds stations and important time slots.
In Washington, where the program originates, “White House Chronicle” airs four times on PBS stations on weekends, including the key “talk show” slots, Sundays at 9 a.m. on WETA-TV, Channel 26, and 11:30 a.m. on WHUT-TV, Channel 32.
“White House Chronicle” airs nationwide on some 200 PBS and public, educational and governmental access stations; and worldwide on Voice of America Television. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET on Sirius XM Radio's POTUS (Politics of the United States) Channel 124.