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What Makes A Successful Television Host?

What makes a successful TV host? Charisma? Intelligence? Humor? Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for casting the role of a TV presenter. One candidate may seemingly have it all and still fail miserably, while another – though grossly inept on paper – may go on to win the hearts of viewers worldwide. While there is no way to predict the success of any given television presenter, we can reflect on what made some of the greats, both past and present, well…great!

While somewhat wooden in his delivery, Ed Sullivan represented the everyman. What the former boxer lacked in charisma he more than made up for with his eye for talent. The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948 to 1971, and boasted memorable appearances by the Beatles, the Doors, and Elvis Presley.

Star of screen and radio, the inimitable Groucho Marx came to television’s “You Bet Your Life” armed with searing wit and impeccable comic timing, not to mention his trademark cigar and mustache. Games and cash prizes seemed superfluous next to the playful banter of Groucho and the contestants. The show ran from 1950 until 1960.

Here’s Johnny! Comedian and perennial TV presenter of the Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992, Johnny Carson had America in the palm of his hand for 30 years. What’s more, he influenced every television host that followed, as well as the format of talk shows in general.

For years, Carson’s Tonight Show was followed by Late Night With David Letterman. Relatively edgy and unpredictable, Letterman’s quick-witted sarcasm won him a cult following. Considered a shoe in for the Tonight Show once Carson retired, he was instead ousted for…

Jay Leno – This former Doritos pitchman had been a substitute TV host for Johnny Carson since the mid-eighties before taking over the Tonight Show in 1992. Said to own over 200 automobiles, Leno is a motorcycle enthusiast, and has been in the wrestling ring with none other than Hulk Hogan.

Then there’s Oprah Winfrey, whose show is the highest rated of its kind in history. Sincerity, empathy, humor, and a charitable heart has made her the most influential woman on the planet…not to mention the richest African American of the 20th Century!

What do all of these television hosts and presenters have in common? They have that indescribable something that makes the world want to watch week after week. They have “IT.”