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Talk Show

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The Talk Show ("Chat Show" in the UK) genre encompasses a number of different formats, but all talk shows share certain characteristics:

Quite often, they are named after their host or "with [insert the host's name]".

Talk Show Formats

Most talk shows follow one of a number of standard formats:

  1. Morning News Talk Show: Light news, commentary, and fluff pieces. Examples: The Today Show, Good Morning America.
  2. News Talk Show: Pundits arguing. Meet the Press is the longest-running example, as well as the longest running talk show, and the longest running TV show period. (Guiding Light had 8 more years than Meet the Press on radio, but 4-5 less on TV.)
  3. Pundit Show: A News Talk Show with only one host. Generally self-aggrandizing, highly politicized and full of vitriol and/or conspiracy theories. Often supported with a companion series on AM radio (if the radio show isn't the main draw in the first place) and a blog. The radio ones usually Phone-In Shows, as well. Examples: The O'Reilly Factor, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Hardball (with Chris Matthews), Countdown With Keith Olbermann, Big Idea with Donny Deutsche, The Colbert Report (parody). A British version is The Jeremy Vine Show, a long-running lunchtime debate-and-music show on BBC Radio Two. Vine inherited a slot formerly presented by veteran host Sir Jimmy Young. Topical political controversies are debtated and held open to the public for comment, but unlike US radio equivalents, the show is either hampered (or improved) by a strict legal requirement for political impartiality.
  4. Daytime Talk Show: These shows typically feature celebrities and/or ordinary people who showcase scandal or dysfunctionality. Examples: The Jerry Springer Show (scandal), Live! With Kelly & Ryannote  (celebrities), The Oprah Winfrey Show (either or both). Pioneered by Phil Donahue. Dr. Phil fits here, with the twist that he attempts to use psychology to help the dysfunctional people. Loose Women is a British daytime variety based on American show The Talk, presented by a panel of rather opinionated professional women drawn from all areas of celebrity: journalists (Janet Street-Porter), singers (Jayne McDonald, Colleen Nolan), actresses (Denise Welch) etc.
  5. Late Night Talk Show: Current events, comedy, and celebrity guests, such as The Tonight Show, Late Night, The Late Show, The Late Late Show, etc. Often a limited form of the Variety Show, typically featuring a house band — which is usually used to cut to commercial, and rarely shown in its entirety. Musical acts often perform a single song as the last segment of most shows. In the 70s, such shows as Dinah Shore and The Mike Douglas Show aired afternoons, a trend that saw a slight resurgence in the mid 90s. By the 2010's, it became increasingly common for late-night talk shows to feature games and other recurring segments with celebrity participation in an effort to make them an Instant Web Hit the following morning.
  6. Phone-In Talk Show: Most common in radio, this type of show has the host(s) engaging in conversation with listeners who call in by telephone. A lot of these double as/are linked to Pundit Shows: besides Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Beck, all have phone-in radio shows, as did Rachel Maddow before she hopped to TV. Other than those, NPR puts forward a number of phone-in shows that double as News Talk (Talk of the Nation and The Diane Rehm Show being the ones syndicated nationwide); they also do Car Talk. Commercial radio has a plethora of these, as well; the one that sticks in a lot of people's memories, however, is Coast to Coast AM, a talk show about the paranormal that generally airs in the wee hours of the morning.
  7. Spoof Talk Show: Does what it says on the tin. Examples: Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, Man to Man with Dean Learner, Fernwood Tonight, The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.
  8. Sports Talk Show: Very similar to the News Talk Show, except that it's all about sports. One famous example is Sports Desk. Much of ESPN's fare as of 2018 qualifies here as well, as does Fox Sports which has a good bit of former ESPN talent now.

For a list of notable TV presenters, see Presenters

Notable talk shows


Video Example(s):


Stuff & Sam!

Sam has his very own public access TV show Stuff & Sam!

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