When we think of talk show hosts, there are a few memorable names we immediately recognize – Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres, Regis Philben, and Montel Williams. These are all incredibly successful talk show hosts. But there are a lot more than may not be as publicized but are well worth watching.
Top 9 Black Talk Show Hosts of All-Time
If you’re looking for a new, entertaining, and relevant talk show to watch, maybe consider checking out one of these 9 top Black talk show hosts of all time. Stream classics or check out live episodes depending on which hosts you are most interested in.
1. Montel Williams
Most people immediately recognize Montel Williams as one of the most popular Black talk show hosts of all time. Montel began his show in 1991 after ending a military career. The Montel Williams Show aired until 2008. Over his expansive career, Williams won numerous Daytime Emmy Awards and has received numerous honors.
2. Arsenio Hall
Arsenio Hall is notable for many reasons. He had a long career in television and film before appearing on talk shows in the 1980s. In 1987, Hall briefly hosted The Late Show, but then started his own show in 1989. The Arsenio Hall Show was an immediate success. It was particularly followed by young people. The show ran until 1994. The show was made particularly notable in 1992 when Bill Clinton appeared on the show.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most well-known and influential Black talk show hosts in history. Her show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, debuted in 1986 and ran until 2011. But Winfrey’s talk show success didn’t stop there. Next, Winfrey started her own network, OWN, which amassed massive success immediately. Winfrey is often known for generosity and giving, including her infamous surprises for the audience.
4. Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks gained popularity as a model, but it didn’t take long for her to become a media mogul. After modeling for years and then hosting America’s Next Top Model, Banks started The Tyra Banks Show. The show featured wisdom and encouragement, supported new and upcoming models, and celebrated diversity. The Tyra Banks Show is particularly popular with teenagers and young women.
5. Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah started in entertainment in 2011, when he made appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show. In 2014, he was a regular on The Daily Show, up until Jon Stewarts’ retirement. After Stewart retired, Noah became his successor. He has hosted The Daily Show since 2015 and regularly covers topics related to politics and current events, but puts his satirical spin on them.
6. Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts began her talk show history as we know it in 2005 when she joined the Good Morning America team. Since then, we have watched her present nationwide news alongside George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan (both excellent talk show hosts).
7. Tavis Smiley
Tavis Smiley is one of the most well-known Black talk show hosts in American history. His talk show success story began in 1996 when he got a job on BET Tonight. Later, he began the PBS hit, The Tavis Smiley Show, which became immediately popular. The show ran until 2017. Smiley also hosted a program called Open Mike. This program focused on literacy in Black communities.
8. Keenan Ivory Wayans
Keenan Ivory Wayans gained massive success in the 1990s with In Living Color. But he also is known for his own late-night talk show where he featured guests like Whitney Houston and Samuel L. Jackson. It was short-lived, from 1997 to 1998, but is worth watching if you’re a Wayans fan.
9. Wendy Williams
Wendy Williams began her media career as a writer for a newspaper. She then became more interested in radio and television. In 2008, she began The Wendy Williams Show. The show has been hugely successful with more than two million viewers per show. The Wendy Williams Show is more of a variety show, featuring celebrities, news, fashion, audience interaction, and giveaways. The variety is largely what makes the show so relatable and entertaining.
The nine Black talk show hosts listed above represent the Black media community. These hosts have each made an impact on the industry, and have left a legacy. For some, the legacy continues. And for others, the trajectory changed. But each is deserving of being on our list.