Talk shows are a type of unscripted discussion that privileges audience participation. They may be hosted by celebrities or ordinary people in a studio setting. They can be light-hearted and funny or they can be scathingly critical. In the last few decades, they have become an important form of mass media in many Western countries. They have become a topic of intense debate and are subject to wide-ranging evaluations.
Talk show hosts have a unique power to shape the public discourse through the issues they choose to discuss on the air. They are able to reach millions of people in an instant with their message. They can also inspire a sense of community and belonging in their audiences. This is one of the reasons why these shows are so popular. However, it is important to remember that a talk show host’s power comes with a lot of responsibility.
A host should be aware of the effect that their actions can have on the audience and avoid going too far over the line. This will help them keep their audience engaged. They should know their topics and make sure to have a plan for the conversation. It is also important to understand that there are certain things that should not be discussed on a talk show.
The talk show format developed in the 1960s for radio and television because it was cheaper than producing dramatic programs. It was also easy to produce live to tape, since it required only a set and a host. This made it a natural for daytime stay-at-home women’s audiences.
Until recently, most talk shows focused on celebrity interviews and discussions of current events. However, in the 1990s, talk shows became increasingly controversial as they delved into personal and private issues. The emergence of the “trash TV” genre exemplified this trend. Guests on these shows were known to get into scuffles over issues such as infidelity, child molestation, and sexual preference.
In addition to exposing problems that were previously hidden, talk shows have been accused of trivializing serious social issues. Authors such as Elaine Showalter and Jeanne Heaton and Nona Wilson have charged that these programs encourage hysteria on subjects like repressed memories and satanic ritual abuse. These authors have also argued that talk shows encourage viewers to adopt simplistic solutions such as “love conquers all” and that race shouldn’t matter.
Some scholars view the growth of the talk show genre as an expression of key shifts in contemporary culture. Kurtz 1997 and Timberg 2002 point out that the explosion of the genre is linked to broader shifts in the personalization of public space and the rise of therapy culture. Other scholars such as Dovey 2000 and Shattuc 1997 are less concerned with individual texts and instead focus on the broader context of the emergence of first person media.
The most common criticisms leveled against talk shows revolve around their content. Bradley Greenberg and Sandi Smith analyzed the eleven top-rated talk shows of 1994 to determine what the most commonly discussed topics were. Their results revealed that contrary to public perception, these shows often centered on family and relationship issues rather than issues such as adultery or drug abuse.