How Do I Become a Talk Show Host?

A radio talk show host must have confidence.
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  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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To become a talk show host, there are certain requirements that simply can’t be taught. You must enjoy speaking and communicating, but a burning curiosity is a far more important trait. The reason for this is that people love to talk about themselves. Your job is to ask penetrating questions, to convince a guest to open up, and to gain their trust to such a point that they reveal thoughts and opinions that might otherwise remain hidden. If you want to gain the reputation of being a great talker, then you must first be a great listener.

Talking and listening are only the beginning steps if you wish to become a talk show host. You should have a quick wit, be able to think on your feet, and improvise with reckless abandon. The best sort of talk show integrates fact, humor, sparkling repartee, and emotion. To become a talk show host, you need to be a reader of people, one who can elicit the highs and lows of both guest and audience.

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You should also have an ample dose of confidence, because a nervous or shy talk show host is something of an oxymoron. If your preferred venue is radio, you should be very comfortable with a visible audience that consists only of a microphone, an engineer, and perhaps a call screener. You must adore the sound of your own voice. If your medium is television, and includes a live audience, you must have charisma, stage presence, and the abilities of a talented actor.

Technically, education plays a big role for those who seek to become a talk show host. A degree in journalism, media, TV and radio, or drama is very helpful. Attendance at a private broadcasting school is also good. This is not the sort of job that just falls into one’s lap, and you will usually have to build a track record by working as a reporter, deejay, or anchor.

Many media outlets – local, regional, and national – offer internships for those who wish to break into the business. If the opportunity arises for one of these coveted spots, do not turn it down. Not only will you gain invaluable experience, you will also begin making contacts in the industry. Most talk show hosts gain their jobs because a producer or network executive noticed their talent and dedication, and decided to give them their “big break.” Media is the type of business, much more so than any other, where who you know is just as important as what you know.

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candyquilt
Post 3

My son wants to be a talk show host on radio in the future. He is very enthusiastic about this type of career and I also support him.

He's about to graduate from high school and he has decided to major in journalism in college. I think journalism is the best type of education for the type of career he wants. I think he will probably work in media as a writer and then a commentator. Hopefully, eventually, he'll host his own show.

serenesurface
Post 2

I don't know if looking at the careers of current talk show hosts would help someone who wants to become one in the future. But it can't hurt either.

My favorite late night television talk show host is Conan O'Brien. I believe he started hosting shows in the early nineties. Before that, he was a writer for various comedy shows. He even wrote for the Simpsons for a while.

I have no idea how he came to be a host, but he spent almost twenty years writing comedy before that. So he definitely had a strong background suitable for entertainment television.

@ysmina-- By the way, I don't agree with you about age. Conan O'Brien was 30 when he started hosting "Late Night." Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno were also in their thirties when they started hosting their TV shows. I think someone who's in their late twenties could also host a show on TV or radio successfully.

ysmina
Post 1

It can't be easy to become a talk show host. I don't think there is one single route to becoming one. It must be a combination of skills, experience, connections and luck.

I don't know many young talk show hosts. Most are older, past their thirties. I don't think that's a rule, but it's probably preferred that way. Older people with more experiences have more stories to tell, so being a talk show host must be easier when you have past a certain age.

So if any young folks out there are aiming for this type of career, they should know that it might take them a while to reach their goal. Persistence, ambition and hard work is required.

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