What is a TV Hostess?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A TV hostess is a woman who runs or anchors a television show. The key purpose of such a hostess is to relay information about the show to the viewers and to help make smooth transitions between segments. There are many kinds of television programs that employ television hostesses, but they are particularly common on game shows.

A TV hostess may work on a game show.
A TV hostess may work on a game show.

In addition to assisting with transitions within a show, a TV hostess is also often responsible for commenting on the content of the shows. This is particularly common in game shows. The commentary of the hostess can help viewers to understand exactly what is going on from moment to moment, especially when important events are taking place or when events are taking place at a rapid pace.

A TV hostess may have her own makeup artist on set.
A TV hostess may have her own makeup artist on set.

It is common for a TV hostess to have a background in theater, screen acting, or news broadcasting as the skills related to these professions relate directly to the skills needed to host a television show. Sometimes models or former models host TV shows. Female comedians may go on to host their own talk shows. This is the case, for example, with Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen Degeneres.

Sometimes a TV hostess will share the stage with a TV host. This is sometimes true for talk shows, new shows, and game shows. This is the case, for example, with the popular morning talk show Live with Regis and Kelley, which is co-hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. The iconic American game show Wheel of Fortune is hosted by both Pat Sajak and Vanna White. The TV hostess of this duo was the first female co-host of a television game show. She was most certainly not the last and she may have paved the way for women to host shows of their own.

Famous female television game show presenters include the famously acerbic Anne Robinson who hosted the BBC's The Weakest Link. She also hosted the American version of the show which was broadcasted by NBC. Before hosting The Weakest Link, Robinson worked as a journalist. Another well-known TV hostess is Alison Sweeney. Sweeney, who has a background in acting for soap operas such as Days of Our Lives, began hosting the weight loss game show The Biggest Loser in 2007. Anne Robinson and Alison Sweeney are just two of the many TV hostesses that have graced network and cable shows since Vanna White first took the stage in 1982.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@mobilian33 - When you think about it, talk shows are basically the same. You have people talking to celebrities and the celebrities go from show to show answering many of the same questions. What makes a show like "Ellen" so popular is the hostess.

So while Vanna White's job might not be difficult she is part of the reason why people tune in to the show, so she deserves some credit for that. Just look at some of the shows that have lost popular hosts and then the shows started to decline and people stopped watching.


I think hostesses get too much credit for the success of most shows. I mean, does it really matter if Vanna White is turning the letters or someone else is doing the job? It really doesn't look like that hard of a job, as TV jobs go.


It's interesting that the article talks about "The Weakest Link" and host Anne Robinson being a journalist before she became more well known from the game shows. The reason I say this is interesting is because I have always thought that journalists are hosts in a way.

Good reporters introduce their readers and viewers to news stories and news makers and the reporters help the audience get acquainted with the information. One of the top reasons people watch a particular local newscast instead of another one is because of the anchor person. A successful anchor person has to be a good TV host or viewers will stop coming back and they will find another newscast to watch.

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