Main Areas of Hosting
For all of you out there who consider yourselves aspiring TV hosts, no matter where you are on the hosting spectrum (maybe you’ve just gotten started, or maybe you’ve done a few jobs), it’s important to remember that there are so many more areas of hosting than most people realize. If you’re wondering how you could possibly make a living doing this if you’re not Oprah Winfrey or Ryan Seacrest, the answer is to be patient and pick a path, any path, then stick with that path as if your career depended it on it!
ENTERTAINMENT REPORTING: This includes red-carpet hosting and press junkets. It includes shows like Entertainment Tonight and those on the E! network. Think of hosts like Mario Lopez, Maria Menounos, and Nancy O’Dell.
TALK SHOWS: You will also know these as national morning shows, daytime talk shows, and nighttime talk shows, though web talk shows and regional morning shows also fall into this category. National morning shows like Good Morning America and the Today show are good examples; however, there are regional morning shows in most major markets as well. Daytime talk shows include Dr. Phil, Steve, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Wendy Williams Show, etc. Nighttime talk shows like The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show, The Tonight Show, and The Late Late Show are great examples. Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, and James Corden are great examples of late-night talk show hosts. As you can see, even though these are all under the umbrella of talk shows, there are hugely different styles and talents that are required and appropriate for hosts in each of these categories.
REALITY TV: Reality TV includes travel shows, fixer-uppers, game shows, competition shows, etc. When we think about reality TV hosts, we might think about competition shows with hosts ranging from Jeff Probst from Survivor, to Tom Bergeron from Dancing with the Stars, to Ryan Seacrest from American Idol.
Hosts such as Anthony Bourdain, who was an icon in the travel show space,Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fall into this category. For makeover shows, great examples are Jonathan and Drew Scott, aka the Property Brothers, and Joanna and Chip Gaines from Fixer Upper. Mike Rowe and Bear Grylls are great examples of TV hosting in the docu-reality space (shows that have a documentary delivery and feel). When it comes to game shows, icons like Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek are most people’s first thought, though now we have celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Ellen DeGeneres, and Drew Carey occupy- ing this space as well.
These are the typical areas that come to mind when most people think about hosting work. Now let’s talk about some areas you may not have thought of or known even existed.
SHOPPING CHANNELS: There are also shopping channels: QVC and HSN. Usually those networks pay you six figures to start and it’s a full-time job, it’s reliable in- come, and it gives you a taste of what it’s like to be on-camera talent, which is kind of what we all want, right? Even though these hosts may not be household names for everyone, they are celebrities in their own right, and people who watch these channels are HUGE fans of the hosts and love to call in and follow their favorites. Also, people do get their start here. Mike Rowe was originally a QVC host.
INFOMERCIALS: Now you probably knew about infomercials, but you probably didn’t know how great they can pay. They reach up to $10K to $20K just for the shoot day and, on top, can often include quarterly payments or a percentage of profit. NOT BAD! Infomercials are also huge internationally. Turns out people in other countries love to hear Americans talk about products, because Americans really represent consumerism to the rest of the world. A handful of celebrities host infomercials for their products, including Cindy Crawford, Suzanne Somers, George Foreman, Christie Brinkley, Chuck Norris, and Richard Simmons. There are also some notable hosts who are celebrities in the infomercial world just for being very successful direct response hosts. Direct response is what the industry calls in- fomercials. Hosts like Forbes Riley, Billy Mays, and Vince Shlomi became big names in this space.
INDUSTRIALS: This is a wonderful area to start in if you are a new host looking to get some experience and footage for your reel. An industrial is an internal video for a company about their product or service, or a training video. The great thing is that it’s internal, so it will never be broadcast on TV. So you can do a lot of them! It’s usually just a video housed on the company’s website. The pay is a decent: $1,000 to $1,500 for a day’s work. Be careful to limit the usage to one or two years max with the right to renew. Even though it’s internal, you don’t want the company to have rights to use your image forever. Also, make sure to get a guarantee that they will send you the final video once it’s completed so you can use portions of it for your reel.
TRADE SHOWS: There are also trade shows, which usually offer one to three days of work. Some of the best-known trade shows in the US are CES in Las Vegas and Comic-Con in San Diego. Trade shows typically pay a $1,000 to $1,500 a day and often have you traveling all over the country; sometimes you may travel all over the world live-presenting, and that really keeps you on your toes. I always say trade shows are kind of like the gym of hosting. Plus, shopping channels scout from this world a lot because if you are successful as a trade show presenter, that means you are adept at talking about products live, which is the exact skill set you need to be successful as a shopping channel host.
For more on the main areas of hosting, check out the all-new book, "The Ultimate On-Camera Guidebook" by Jacquie Jordan and Shannon O'Dowd.
Shannon O’Dowd is an on-camera host, commercial spokesperson, & media training/on-camera instructor. Shannon has been working on both sides of the camera for well over a decade.
I eat, sleep, and breath on-camera training and coaching. I Literally wrote the book on how to prepare and embellish your on-camera performance. Finding talent managers and eventually agents means focusing on building out your resume, headshots, and sizzle reel. Having on-camera training can get you ready for the audition. I go above and beyond for my clients and teach up and coming professionals and established talent all over the Los Angeles area. Reach out! I want to continue to build a thriving community of entertainers.