Would I make a great talk show host?

by Russ Hill on March 5, 2010

People ask me this question all the time: Do I have what it takes to be a great talk show host?

How the crap am I supposed to know?

Just kidding… okay, maybe I should since it’s my job to find and develop great talk talent.  Here’s the first thing I look for in great talent: do they fill the room?  Normally, when I go to breakfast or lunch with a person who wants a gig as a talk host I play mute.  I let them steer the conversation.  I don’t bring up any topic.  I let THEM do all the talking.

If I’m bored out my mind then we’ve got our answer.  I get bored when uh, there’s no one talking because they have nothing to say and I’m playing mute.  Or, I’m bored because they’re talking about themselves nonstop.  I don’t want to hear about them.  Well, let me clarify.  I love it when they tell over-the-top stories of an experience they had two days ago when they were in some crazy situation.

What I mean when I hate it when they talk about themselves is when they start playing the “guess who I know in the business” game.  Or, when they play the “do you have any idea how much I’ve done in this industry” game.  Who cares?  Only radio nerds who need to get out more.  I could care less who is in what market doing what and worked for whom.  Only geeks care about that crap.

What I look for is whether or not this person is consumed with life.  Are they LOVING living life?  Do they have opinions on EVERYTHING?  Do they have the most amazing stories?  Is everyone in their life a character?  Are they smart, either from reading a ton or learning the hard way?  Are they normal or do they only know and talk politics?  Are they likable?  Do they make me laugh?  Are they a good person?  Do they take themselves too seriously?  Do they easily connect with those around them?  Are they hungry?  What phone are they carrying with them (really, that does matters to me)? Do they fill the room?

That’s where I start when answering the question of whether someone can be a great talk show host.

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