Cable talk show hosts are like close friends. We tend to pick and stick with the ones who tell us not only what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. And few can argue against television viewers’ collective need these days for the no-nonsense financial smarts of Suze Orman. With the AIG bailout and the stock market’s ongoing bungee jump, Orman has been on the news circuit, sharing her vast knowledge as a guest on several networks. But she sits atop our talk-show-host food chain for what she delivers between national financial crises. Orman is not interested in celebrity guests but rather the people who speak to current audience issues. Sure, Orman can come off like a scolding mother. But like most scolding mothers, she seems to really care about the financial well-being of her viewers.
Washington Journal, C-SPAN Networks: Twenty-eight years and running, the politically minded Washington Journal gets kudos for its unabashed embrace of participation. Lengthy viewer call-in sessions and moderators’ propensity for pitting viewers with opposing views often are more interesting than the invited guests.
Night Talk, hosted by Mike Schneider, Bloomberg Television: Since debuting in April 2007, Night Talk has become known for drawing heavyweights from the political arena (like John McCain) and from the business realm (like David Rockefeller).
Larry King Live!, CNN: It’s hard to compile a list of influential talk shows without including the King. Let the critics rant about how he soft-shoes his interviews. With more than 1 million viewers nightly, King remains CNN’s most-watched program and manages to nab guests the other hosts are pining for.