TV Talk Shows

Talk shows have been a big part of the television landscape ever since the 1950′s, when television was established as a major entertainment medium. While the styles of talk shows have changed over the years, the popularity of them has not. In fact, their popularity has exploded in recent years. There are now more talk shows on than ever before. Part of the reason for this is the proliferation of channels looking for content; see a channel line-up at

The early years

Arthur Godfrey is generally credited with hosting the first television talk show. As with many hosts in the early days of television, he got his start as a radio talk show host. Legendary 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace became famous as the host of Night-Beat, a one-on-one interview program. He followed this up with The Mike Wallace Interview, which had the same format.

Comedy talk shows

Comedians had a major impact on the rise in popularity of TV shows in the 1950′s. Comedians such as Jack Benny, Red Skelton and Jerry Lewis all hosted their own popular comedy/variety programs. These shows started the trend of having celebrities as guests to be interviewed, promote their latest projects and participate in comedy sketches.

Late night

While there were many shows like this on the air, it was The Tonight Show that became a late night talk show institution. First hosted by Steve Allen, the show introduced the concept of having regular people participate in unscripted segments, such as man-on-the-street interviews. Jay Leno has taken this to a new level in recent years. After Steve Allen left The Tonight Show, Jack Paar became the host. However, it was with Johnny Carson that the show would become iconic. Carson would host the show for 29 years.

Shock journalism

Phil Donahue is credited with starting the trend in “shock journalism” on his daytime talk show. He introduced controversial topics such as abortion and incest that had rarely been discussed on TV before. Oprah Winfrey, Maury Povich and Jerry Springer later built upon this type of subject matter. The talk show will always be an enduring and addictive part of our culture.

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