The Phil Donahue Show

The Phil Donahue Show Information

The Phil Donahue Show, also known as Donahue, was an American television talk show that ran for 26 years on national television. Its run was preceded by three years of local broadcast in Dayton, Ohio, and it was broadcast nationwide between 1970 and 1996.

In 2002, Donahue was ranked twenty-ninth on TV Guide magazine's list of the fifty greatest television shows of all-time.


In 1967, Phil Donahue left his positions as news reporter and interviewer at WHIO radio and television in Dayton and became the host of a new television program, The Phil Donahue Show on WLWD (now WDTN), also in Dayton. His new program replaced The Johnny Gilbert Show, when Gilbert left on short notice for Los Angeles for a hosting job. On November 6, 1967, Donahue hosted his first guest, known atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, of whom he would later call her message of atheism "very important."

Initially, the program was shown only on other stations owned by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation (which would later take the name of its parent Avco Company), which also owned WLWD. But, on January 5, 1970, The Phil Donahue Show entered nationwide syndication.

Donahue relocated the show's home base to Chicago in 1974, first housing it at then-independent station WGN-TV. Around this time the show's popularity increased, and in the process it became a national phenomenon. When the Avco Company divested their broadcasting properties in 1976, Multimedia Inc. assumed production and syndication of the program, which was now known as simply Donahue. In 1982, Donahue moved the show to CBS-owned WBBM-TV for its final years based in Chicago and the Midwest.

In 1984, Donahue introduced many viewers to hip-hop culture for the first time, as a program featured breakdancing for the first time on national television, accompanied by a performance from the rap group UTFO. In 1985, Donahue moved the program's operations to New York City, housing them in NBC's Rockefeller Plaza building. Prior to the move, a month-long series of commercials heralded the move, and NBC's late-night talk host David Letterman would use portions of his national program counting down the days to Donahue's move with a huge calendar in his studio. One of the most talked-about incidents in Donahue's history came on January 21, 1985, soon after the show moved to New York. On this day's program, seven members of the audience appeared to faint during the broadcast, which was seen live in New York. Donahue, fearing the fainting was caused by both anxiety at being on television and an overheated studio, eventually cleared the studio of audience members and then resumed the show. It turned out the fainting "spell" was cooked up by media hoaxer Alan Abel in what Abel said was a protest against what he termed as poor-quality television.

In 1992, Donahue celebrated the 25th anniversary of his local and national program with a NBC special produced at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, in which he was lauded by his talk-show peers. Ironically, in many corners, he was seen as having been bypassed both by Oprah Winfrey, whose own hugely successful national show was based in Donahue's former Chicago home base; and Sally Jessy Raphael, whose own talk show was distributed by Donahue's syndicator, Multimedia.

The end of Donahue

As the 1990s progressed the talk show field became saturated, leading to a decline in the program's ratings. The program also lost support after Donahue expressed his feelings regarding the first Gulf War. One station, ABC-owned KGO-TV in San Francisco, dropped the program at the start of the 1995-1996 season after carrying it for several years. Weeks later, New York's WNBC-TV, whose studios housed the program, also canceled it. Donahue was also evicted from its Rockefeller Plaza home, and relocated to new studios in Manhattan. Many other stations, such as KTRK-TV in Houston, and KYW-TV in Philadelphia, moved Donahue to late-night and early-morning time slots. The program never relocated to another station in either New York or San Francisco, two of the largest U.S. television markets. Donahue ended the series after 29 years, 26 of them in syndication. After nearly 7,000 shows, the final original episode of Donahue aired on September 13, 1996, culminating in what remains to be the longest continuous run of any syndicated talk show in U.S. television history. Donahue will continue to remain the longest continiously running syndicated talk show until at least 2015, if or when Live! with Kelly completes it's 27th season in national syndication. If Live does not complete a 27th season, Maury and Jerry Springer would both pass in 2018, having both been on the air since 1991.

As a result of several acquisitions and mergers since that time, the Donahue show catalog is now the property of NBC Universal Television.

International success

Donahue was also broadcast in the UK on the ITV Night time line up in the late 1980s, where it became cult viewing. After its success, Donahue made several shows in Britain featuring some well-known celebrities from the country as guests, recorded mostly in London but notably one programme recorded in Manchester, which had several members of the cast from the American sit-com Cheers and the Manchester-based soap opera Coronation Street.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Phil_Donahue_Show" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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