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A talk show (American and Australian English) or chat show (British) is a television or radio program where one person (or group of people) will discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host. Sometimes, talk shows feature a panel of guests, usually consisting of a group of people who are learned or who have great experience in relation to whatever issue is being discussed on the show for that episode. Other times, a single guest discusses their work or area of expertise with a host or co-hosts. A call-in show takes live phonecalls from callers listening at home, in their cars, etc. Sometimes, guests are already seated but are often introduced and enter from backstage. Oprah Winfrey, star of The Oprah Winfrey Show, is often considered to have revolutionized talk shows, or considered to be the Queen of All Talk Shows.



Television talk shows often feature celebrity guests who talk about their work and personal lives as well as the their latest films, TV shows, music recordings or other projects they'd like to promote to the public. The hosts are often comedians who open the shows with comedy monologues.

Talk-radio host Howard Stern also hosted a talk show that was syndicated nationally, then moved to satellite radio's Sirius. The tabloid talk show genre, pioneered by Phil Donahue but popularized by Oprah Winfrey was extremely popular during the last two decades of the 20th century.

Politics are hardly the only subject of American talk shows, however. Other radio talk show subjects include Car Talk hosted by NPR and Coast to Coast AM hosted by Art Bell and George Noory which discusses topics of the paranormal, conspiracy theories, fringe science and the just plain weird. Sports talk shows are also very popular ranging from high-budget shows like The Best Damn Sports Show Period to Max Kellerman's original public access show Max on Boxing.


Talk shows have been broadcast on television since the earliest days of the medium. Joe Franklin, an American radio and television personality, hosted the first television talk show. The show began in 1951 on WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV) and moved to WOR-TV (later WWOR-TV) from 1962 to 1993. [1]

Steve Allen was the first host of The Tonight Show, which began as a local New York show, being picked up by the NBC network in 1954. It in turn had evolved from his late-night radio talk show in Los Angeles. Allen pioneered the format of late night network TV talk shows, originating such talk show staples as an opening monologue, celebrity interviews, audience participation, and comedy bits in which cameras were taken outside the studio, as well as music.

TV news pioneer Edward R. Murrow hosted a talk show entitled Small World in the late 1950s and since then, political TV talk shows have predominantly aired on Sunday mornings.

Ireland's The Late Late Show is the world's longest running talk show[2][3]; although The Tonight Show is equally as old, it has changed formats and titles since its beginnings in 1950.

Syndicated daily talk shows began to gain more popularity during the mid-1970s and reached their height of with the rise of the tabloid talk show. Morning talk shows gradually replaced earlier forms of programming - there were a plethora of morning game shows during the 1960s and early to mid-1970s, and some stations formerly showed a morning movie in the time slot that many talk shows now occupy.

Current late night talk shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman have aired for years, featuring celebrity guests and comedy sketches. Syndicated daily talk shows range from tabloid talk shows, such as The Jerry Springer Show to celebrity interview shows like Ellen and The Wendy Williams Show to industry leader The Oprah Winfrey Show which popularized the former genre and has been evolving towards the latter.

Talk shows have more recently started to appear on Internet Radio. Also, several internet blogs are in talk show format including the Baugh Experience.

The Guinness world record of 40 hours for longest talk show was broken in 27 October-28 October 2007 by Paweł Kotuliński in Poland.

See also


  1. ^ Hinckley, David (1999-11-26). "Joe Franklin: Truth in Packaging". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Dima performs at The Late Late Show". Eurovision. 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  3. ^ Questions are sometimes raised over whether The Tonight Show on US television, which began broadcasting in 1954, should be described as the longest running. However there is little continuity between the show launched in 1954 and the current format, with the show existing under different guises and names ('Tonight' and 'Tonight! America after Dark' are just two of its names in its early years). The show in its different formats ran as a variety show, then as a news show that was modelled on breakfast show, before adopting the current format and the name The Tonight Show when Johnny Carson took over as permanent presenter in October 1962, some months after The Late Late Show was launched. Having kept the same name and format continuously, The Late Late Show is perceived in the media as more entitled to the term "the longest running show".

Further reading

Simple English

and host Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, a popular talk show]]

A talk show is a radio or television program where one or more hosts discuss current issues or other topics with guests. Many talk shows (especially those on radio) allow members of the public to join in, through telephone calls, letters, e-mail and Internet chat. Talk shows are often meant to entertain, and many feature comedy or entertainers performing. Many shows, though, do a public service, by informing the public and discussing issues openly. While some are locally based, and serve only one station's audience, others become syndicated and play on many stations, or are broadcast by a regional or national network.

The host of a talk show may already be a celebrity, or may become one as their show becomes popular. Some are professionals or experts in a field of knowledge, such as psychology or business. Others are well-known performers who can converse well with others. Guests on a talk show may also be experts in a field of knowledge or work, longtime professionals, or new and familiar celebrities, performers or athletes. Sometimes guests are members of the public who do something that interests others, such as inventors and authors, or someone who comes to public attention through a disaster or mishap.


Johnny Carson hosted NBC's The Tonight Show for thirty years, with guests from every walk of life, including many old and new celebrities. (Comedian Jay Leno took over The Tonight Show when Carson retired.) Singer Mike Douglas hosted a popular, long-running show, co-hosted by weekly guests. Merv Griffin, David Frost and Dick Cavett also had long-running talk shows. Dr. Joyce Brothers was one of the first women to host a national talk show. Other women followed as hosts, including Oprah Winfrey, Joan Rivers, Ricki Lake, Rosie O'Donnell, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Many celebrities host a talk show after they finish work on a television series, to change the direction of their career or to promote things they think are important. Many such series last only a season or two, and some even less. Actresses Gabrielle Carteris, Caroline Rhea and Megan Mullally each hosted short-lived talk shows, after leaving successful series. Nearly every show aired at the same time as The Tonight Show has been cancelled after a short run, including shows hosted by Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller. Arsenio Hall came close, with a show lasting five seasons. Late Show with David Letterman has been the most successful, and is still airing. (Ironically, David Letterman was a hopeful to take over The Tonight Show from Carson when he retired in 1992.)


Talk shows became more and more popular on AM radio from the 1970s onward, as AM stations began to play less music. Today talk shows are heard on AM, FM, and also shortwave radio stations, satellite radio, and the Internet. Larry King began his career on radio, and "crossed over" to television after many years as a popular host. Howard Stern led the trend of "shock jocks", using profanity and personal topics to make his show more exciting. Art Bell talked about controversial topics, like UFOs and possible government conspiracies.

Call-in shows are meant especially for members of the public to join in, by telephone. Callers may wish to talk about current topics in politics, economics or social trends, or to seek advice, or help with a personal problem. Dr. Laura Schlesinger, Dr. Joy Browne, and Bruce Williams help callers with problems, while Michael Savage and many other hosts discuss current issues, on their radio shows.

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