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Effects of Television Talk Shows In the world of entertainment and TV, talk shows have undoubtedly flooded the daytime television. Talk is hot these days. It has risen within the last decade of being a cultural phenomenon. Americans watch more TV today than they have in the past ten years. Talk shows are a major contribution to that. Talk shows effect Americans and society in many different ways. Americans are drawn to talk shows because they show ordinary people they can relate to and deal with topics that are the subjects of everyday gossip. Outside of talk shows, television portrays people in a specific format. The main reason daytime talk shows are popular is because they show a side of America no one really wants to see. We live in an era where people on TV act properly and speak grammatically correct. There is no room on national television for the fat, ugly or indecent. When a person isn t skinny, if you can t speak accurately, if you don t act acceptable or normal by TV s standards, then the result is you probably wont be seeing much air time. Daytime talk shows biggest risk is that their guest and/or topics reflect what America knows on a first hand level. Guests act like people we know. The shouting old lady on Jenny Jones might remind us of our next door neighbor. They bring audiences to a personal level. No matter what the topic, when we see arguments by families or friends, we are drawn into it because we can relate to it. People to get angry, people do swear and people are not always normal. What viewers most often see is real life, refreshingly unrehearsed and direct. As popularity of talk shows has increased, so has the number of scripted, staged shows. The 2most infamous hosts of daytime talk is none other than Jerry Springer. His shows have caused controversy as to whether or not they are rehearsed. Part of America wants to believe this and part of America does not. Whether we do or don t, we still watch the show anyway. Even if we don t have an uncle that has had a sex change and is marrying a midget who is cheating on him, we still want to watch it because that s who we are. Humans are naturally curious and with such topics like these, the talk industry is booming. The numbers are rising in all areas of talk shows. The amount of talk shows has increased within the last decade. The number of syndicated and network talk shows on television increased from just a few when Oprah started in 1986, to 15 in the 1989-90 season to 19 during the 1996-97 season, according to Nielsen Media Research. However, these figures do not include talk shows on cable, so the number is substantially higher. In October of 1997, Nielsen did another rating and found that different talk show s were gaining a larger audience. Springer was up 56 percent rating, Jones went up 47 percent and Rosie O Donnell went up 33 percent share increase. Not only are the viewers increasing, but the advertising dollars are also. In 1998, daytime ad revenue was expected to reach $286 million, up 22 percent from 1997. Producing a talk show is very cheap and when there is an increasing number of viewers, profits grow and the whole talk show industry becomes bigger and harder to slow down. Sometimes audiences watch the show simply to see the host. Take Oprah for example. Her ratings in the 1996-1997 season were 9.6 million. She has established such a prestigious talk show with many personal topics women can relate to. She has evolved into such a cultural icon, that people just watch Oprah to see Oprah. This can be said for 3Springer and other talk show hosts as well. Sometimes we are so caught up in the show because it is that show, that we forget to ask ourselves why we are watching it. Does it have information that we need? Is this going to help me in my daily life? Sometimes we forget to look at the content of talk shows. Another effect of talk shows is that there have been increasing number of women viewers. The industry purposely creates topics that will attract the female gender. “Melodrama has always appealed more to women,” says Jane Shattuc, author of The Talking Cure: TV Talk Shows and Women. “The producers were intentionally making these shows into non-fiction soap operas to appeal to women. They emphasize the personal rather than the public, to purposely target women.” She also states that in 1994, 80 percent of the audience for the top-five trash talk shows were women.

Now that talk shows have gained an audience, by one way or another, they want to expand it to reach people of all genres. Different shows are doing a wider range of topics to appeal to the high-class business man and to the forty year-old single mother living on welfare. To do this, producers and writers collaborate to gain both these audiences as well as others. They plan out topics of different proportions, different time slots, and the perfect host. The talk show industry has really formed into an art. Because of increasing popularity of talk shows, many television networks are expanding to the world wide web. These Internet sites offer viewers to chat online and get more information on shows. Some viewers watch TV and use the Internet simultaneously. Some often have web-casts simultaneously. This works better because you re not stealing the TV audience. The future of TV shows and the web may bottom out. Some sites have 4already shut down. NBC and Microsoft s web-based talk show called “The Site,” ended in 1997 after two years. It ended up being a 24-hour news source instead. So why is there so much attention to a website and TV show? People found that they could relate to things that are important to them. Being connected to the web also made it easier for hosts to be more attainable to their audience. Along with the overwhelming popularity of talk shows, comes the court-TV trials that are associated with the phenomenon. The ability to watch another person s trial on TV, and have that ruling be real impresses a lot of Americans. Judge Judy, Judge Mills Lane, and Judge Joe Brown have now been added to our list of daytime “hosts” of talk shows. Although they are legal judges and not hosts, our society relates things such as talk shows and TV-court trials as one and the same. They are forms of entertainment which keep viewers interested. “There are only six court strips on the air right now versus 17 talk shows,” states Brad Adgate, senior VP of corporate research at Horizon Media. “Although the demand right now for court far outweighs the supply, chances are the genre will become oversaturated given the number of court projects in the works. It happened with talk and is likely to occur with court as well.” One important effect of talk shows is the controversy that it has brought to the American society. Problems arose in 1995 when Jonathon Schmitz murdered Scott Amedure, a gay man, after Amedure told Schmitz that he was his “secret crush” on the Jenny Jones show. After that, there have been many protests to end the outrageous topics that fill talk shows everyday. Protesters such as William Bennett and Joe Lieberman have called talk show advertisers to withdraw their support. Many believe that the audience 5only cares for the sex-violence topics and not healthcare or foreign policy. Whether these protesters know it or not, talk shows are on the air because of that reason. The majority of American society would much rather see a show with the topic “My sister slept with my boyfriend,” and not “The issue of healthcare benefits for the elderly.” Even though healthcare is an important issues, weird and outlandish topics are what really keep the viewers glued to the television set. The talk show industry is steadily increasing with more viewers, more shows and more profit. Whatever the topic may be of a certain show, people can attack it and start controversy. The talk show industry is here as a form of entertainment and also to inform. The talk show industry is booming and will continue to grow. With that growth will be more different effects on Americans. The effects of the talk show on society are all basically normal because Americans take ideas and run with them.

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