Celebrity talk: What makes a good host
Hosting is more than just speaking well. As the television hosts the Inquirer interviewed for this forum pointed out, having the gift of gab can only take you so far in this field.
While what they do may come across as easy, it’s anything but. You have to have good listening skills, spontaneity and the ability to gauge the audience on the fly. And that’s just in front of the camera.
Behind the scenes, you must also have the discipline to do research and have the initiative to stay up-to-date with current events to be able to carry a conversation on just about any topic.
Some of the most visible TV hosts today talk about their influences and share their thoughts on what makes a good host:
Before I joined “Eat Bulaga!” as a 30-year-old host, I thought I already knew everything. I have done singing contests, debate shows, morning shows—I thought I could handle all formats.
But what I didn’t realize is that, it takes a certain level of firmness and finesse when hosting a long-running show like “Bulaga.” That was something I learned from watching TVJ (Tito, Vic and Joey).
On air, you must appear relaxed—and that requires finesse. But behind the scenes, everything is so structured.
A host is only as good as his writers and partners, so I try my best to be a team player. I don’t think there’s a formula to be a good host. But I continue to learn every day.
Aside from TVJ, I also admire Paolo Abrera and his wife Suzi Entrata, as well as Edu Manzano and Martin Nievera.
For me, a good television host is not just one who speaks well, but one who listens just as well.
There are many people I admire. On TV, I’m inspired by the candor, wit and energy of my “Unang Hirit” cohosts.
I look up to my mentor, Ms Cheche Lazaro, who upheld the standards of responsible journalism and trained us to be better at our jobs.
Her voice modulation commands attention and is able to communicate effectively to the audience of the “Probe Team.”
Robi Domingo, Luis Manzano and Billy Crawford are some of the best we have today. They can host in English or Tagalog, no problem.
On the international scene, I love Jimmy Kimmel. He’s a great interviewer and listener; he asks good questions and articulates his thoughts well.
Listening is the most important thing about hosting. And you have to adapt. These days, attention spans are shorter, so interviews on television should be snappier, but still fun and interesting.
Joey de Leon
You should be able to connect with all types of audiences. Everyone should understand and relate to you.
In “Student Canteen,” for example, Leila Benitez took care of hosting in English, while Eddie Ilarde and Pepe Pimentel brought the laughs.
That was what I learned from the show, and I brought it with me to “Eat Bulaga!” However, I leaned toward the Filipino masses more, so our hosting style was more kwela. We wore plain slippers and rubber shoes on television at a time when presenters wore suits and ties.
We tried to ruffle things up—at one point, I remember even smoking on air. We managed to bring ourselves to the masses. What you see is what you get. You always have to be up-to-date with what’s happening around. Then, you can inject some of your personal experiences into your spiels.
Boy Abunda and Eagle Riggs are the two people I learned a lot from. Tito Boy told me that if I wanted to be interesting, I myself should be interested in what I’m talking about. “Do your own research!” You can only do so much “winging.”
Eagle, on the other hand, taught me how to give and take—it’s a skill you have to learn when you work with another host. Listen when your cohost speaks, so you can relate to what he or she’s saying. It makes the conversation more natural and fluid.
What makes a good host? Maybe it’s a combination of being witty and entertaining and showing that you’re having fun with your job.
I suppose there are many kinds of hosting and, for some reason, I have always thought of myself as an accidental host. When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching Ian Wright and Justine Shapiro of “Lonely Planet.” Ollie Pettigrew was a favorite, as well.
Later on, Anthony Bourdain became the coolest guy on the block: a host, yes, but primarily a magnetic personality.
Locally speaking, I’ve always admired the likes of Ryan Agoncillo, Bianca Gonzalez and Drew Arellano.
I’m a huge fan of Bob Costas, who can smoothly transcend all genres—sports coverage, breaking global news, the Olympics, etc.—and host so eloquently, intelligently and succinctly. He was very engaging. He was the voice of my childhood.
I also admire Steve Harvey, who is more like your “favorite uncle” and is not intimidating. He always infuses humor into his hosting, but when needed, he can be extremely serious. I enjoy his seamless blend of pomp and irreverence.
Locally, nobody controls a show or event like Joey Mead. The right hostess for all occasions. I have admired her style for years and hope I can be her when I grow up!
I like hosts who make you feel welcome, who are engaging, and move the show forward. It’s also a must for hosts to infuse their personality and brand into the show, but they should know when to pull the reins back.
Granted, a host must be the one talking, but the best host is the one who listens and reacts accordingly.
I love Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey. Both are great, not only at their jobs, but also their calling. Oprah has such charisma, and when she looks at her guests, it’s obvious she’s invested in their stories. Ellen has the sense of humor that makes everything lighter and happier.
Those qualities, in addition to the gift of gab and ability to stretch or shorten interviews as needed, make a good host.
I look up to my mentors Tito, Vic and Joey. I have learned—and continue to learn—so much from their hosting, humor and quick thinking. They can also be serious if the situation calls for it.
Listen to instructions, and to those beside you, so you don’t end up repeating what they’ve already said. It’s also important to know your audience, so you can communicate to them properly.
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