Successful morning shows always, always revolve (subtly) around the lead female host. There are those who will argue this point with me ’til the cows come home. Bring it on. I know it to be true. It’s happened to me show after show after show. She runs the show – sometimes without even realizing it. She is reaching out to a mostly female audience – and female viewers are very particular about the women they will and won’t watch. She needs all of these traits:
- a sense of humor
- wardrobe, makeup and hairstyles that are simple and relatively conservative
Warmth is key. It’s also an intangible. I can’t describe what warmth looks like on the TV screen. But I know it when I see it. Too many hiring news executives can’t see it. Your host has to be the type of woman your viewers would want as a friend, to have coffee with and confide in. She shouldn’t be a knockout although she certainly can be attractive.
I’ve got a clip to show you from a former anchorwoman at Global News in Canada. Her name is Sherry Miller. She’s now an actress and ironically, in this clip, she is playing the role of TV News anchorwoman Jane Oliver on the popular ’90’s Canadian drama series, E.N.G. I used this clip in another post to illustrate the brilliant way that a particular news story was presented in the episode. But it works equally as well here talking about strong female hosts. Even though this story is fiction – it’s so real:
What news viewer wouldn’t instantly bond with “Jane Oliver” after seeing her warmth and vulnerability and honesty and concern? My only frustration is that the scene was shot showing Jane from the side. It would have been so much more powerful seeing her speak directly into the camera on an unforgiving close-up. That’s the type of woman you want hosting your morning show. Period.
Now, the ideal ensemble cast surrounding your lead host or co-host should be made up of more men than women. That’s for a very important reason: Human nature. Women are ultra-critical of other women – and thus, female viewers are ultra-critical of female talent. If they don’t like a particular woman host for any number of reasons, they turn the channel – no questions asked. I have witnessed women in car dealership waiting rooms get up and change the channel announcing, “I can’t stand that woman”. I have seen it at my dentist’s office and in my own living room. It’s simple fact that the more female talent you have on the set, the more chance you have of female viewers disliking one of them – resulting in fewer viewers. It’s simple human nature and it happens right in front of your eyes all the time.
Many morning shows have women hosting who I would describe as Femme Fatales. They’re hot, they know it, they’re dressed like they’ve got a hot date right after the show, they’re masters of innuendo, they have a fake, rehearsed, plastic laugh, and they’re simply not authentic. Imagine a Femme Fatale reading the script Jane Oliver read in the clip above. She couldn’t pull it off if her Manolo Blaknik‘s depended on it. This is not to say that Femme Fatale-type hosts don’t have their place. Sure, they work well on entertainment magazine shows and some talk shows and all over prime time and late night. But sorry, they’re miscast in the morning. They party hardy. Let them sleep it off.
If you’re interested in watching the entire E.N.G episode, you can find it here.