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9 Black TV hosts who helped shape television


By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) — Talk shows have been around for as long as television, but only a few TV talk-show hosts become singular names.

Oprah and Arsenio, Whoopi and Wendy stand out among the talented talk-show hosts who have changed television and shaped our culture over the years.

Here are some other notable examples:

Della Reese

While many people remember Reese for her acting in movies and TV series, including the hit series “Touched By and Angel,” she also has the distinction of being the first Black woman to host a syndicated talk/variety show.

“The Della Reese Show” aired from 1969 to 1970. Reese would also later go on to become a popular guest host for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”

Oprah Winfrey

No one can ever doubt the power of Oprah.

From the time “The Oprah Winfrey Show” debuted in Chicago in 1986 until it ended in 2011, Winfrey reigned over daytime television. She took on provocative subjects with sensitivity and authenticity, moving cultural conversations forward.

Her influence, appeal and talent for connecting audiences was so successful that Winfrey became the first Black woman to helm her own television network, OWN.

Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall brought the fun – and funk – to late night.

The comedic actor managed to snag a diverse array of guests on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” which ran from 1989 to 1994. Hall was especially notable for giving both Black musical artists and comedians a shot in the spotlight.

His show was considered so hip that he was credited with helping to cement former President Bill Clinton’s support among youth in 1992, when the then-candidate played saxophone on the show.

Whoopi Goldberg

Before she was moderating hot topics on “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg had a late-night syndicated talk show for a season in 1992, the self-titled “The Whoopi Goldberg Show.”

A member of the prestigious EGOT club – people who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards, the actor, comedian and talk-show host has led a remarkable career.

Wayne Brady

Wayne Brady got two bites of the apple at hosting his own show.

The original version of “The Wayne Brady Show” ran as an evening variety show from 2001 to 2002, but failed to find an audience. The show was later brought back as a daytime talk show, which the enormously talented Brady helmed from 2002 to 2004.

Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey has earned his reputation as one of the hardest working men in the industry.

He started out as a standup comedian who went on to star in his own sitcom. Next Harvey took his place behind the daytime talk-show desk with his “Steve Harvey Show” in 2012 until 2017. The show then relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles and became “Steve,” before it was canceled in 2019.

These days he’s still busy with other projects, including hosting “Family Feud” as well as a court show.

Wendy Williams

No one, but no one spilled tea like Wendy Williams.

After transitioning from her popular radio program, “The Wendy Williams Show” premiered on daytime in 2008. Her quick wit and candor earned Williams a strong following, especially within the African American community.

Williams leaned into Black culture and developed a devoted fan base with her “Got Topics” and willingness to say what others were thinking during her interviews.

After a series of health struggles for Williams necessitated a revolving cast of guest hosts, the show was pulled from syndication in 2022 and Sherri Shepherd’s new talk show took over her time slot.

Chris Rock

While he may be better known for his stand up and acting, Chris Rock once hosted his own weekly, late-night show on HBO (which is owned by CNN’s parent company).

“The Chris Rock Show” aired for five seasons from 1997 to 2000 and included guests along with Rock’s signature brand of sometimes controversial humor.

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is considered one of South Africa’s greatest gifts to entertainment.

The comedian was named host of “The Daily Show” in 2015, replacing Jon Stewart.

Though not as well known as Stewart at the time, Noah made the chair his own with his sharp grasp of culture and global politics mixed with his distinct humor.

Noah’s broad audience was saddened when he announced last September that he would be leaving the show.

His final episode aired in December.

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