The history of the talk show is as old as television itself. Night time talk shows have run the gamut from family television to R rated comedy acts. Once thought of as entertainment for housewives, daytime talk shows are spreading viewership to college students, men, and senior citizens. The question of which talk show host is the most influential emerges.
We are inundated by choices of individuals or panels of hosts to view on a daily basis on almost every basic channel as well as on cable and public broadcasting channels. Whether we realize it or not, these hosts influence a variety of things in our everyday lives. They influence what we watch, who we talk about, and the entertainment we choose to partake in. Politics, brands, health fads, and musicians are all presented to us on talk shows.
Whether we are learning about newsworthy topics or watching plugs for new movies, talk shows are primarily responsible for introducing these topics through the medium of television. In addition, talk shows often present every day people with common issues, sometimes with a panel of professionals, in an effort to provide help, give advice, or teach coping strategies to a targeted group of viewers on a larger scale.
In regards to each of the following talk show hosts, multiple factors were taken into consideration. These include longevity in the business, the content of their shows and interviews, the intended audiences, and viewership. The hosts included in this list span decades and genres. They span various age groups, genders, races, sexual orientations, education levels, and political belief systems. These hosts are a diverse group, but are definitively the most influential.
10 Regis Philbin
9 Conan O'Brien
8 Ed Sullivan
7 Dr. Phil McGraw
6 Dr. Mehmet Oz
5 Ellen Degeneres
4 Oprah Winfrey
3 Larry King
2 Charlie Rose
1 Ricki Lake
While Ricki Lake hosted her own talk show in the 1990's, she became more influential after turning in the microphone and making a documentary. Inspired by her own journey in pregnancy, labor, and delivery while trying to educate herself, Ricki decided to show American women that they had choices in medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. She caused many women to begin to question the medical necessities of commonly accepted practices. In her documentary The Business of Being Born, Lake introduced Ina May Gaskin and The Farm to a new generation, and gave women the courage to take control of their pregnancies.
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