Although hosting a nationally televised talk show can be a glamorous and highly financially rewarding career, most television hosts never receive an opportunity to host a network or syndicated program. Most television hosts work on local productions such as regional talk shows or news programs. Hosts of programs with smaller audiences tend to make much smaller salaries than the big bucks paid to star-level hosts.
Average News Host Salary
Because advertising revenues drive television salaries, news anchors and hosts who work on broadcasts in large metropolitan areas earn higher salaries than those in smaller markets . Most hosts on local media work as news anchors, rather than as talk-show hosts, and earn a median annual salary of £32,760 as of 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Earnings vary widely, however, and half of all hosts receive between £21,079 and £52,760 annually.
Average Specialty Show Host Salary
Although news programs rely upon journalists to host their broadcasts, speciality shows frequently look past newspeople and hire entertainment personalities to host their shows. Many of these hosts are trained actors or entertainers, who earned a median hourly wage of £10.50 as of 2009, according to the BLS. Because of the small number of actors employed in the broadcasting industry, the BLS doesn't publish industry-specific wage data for them.
Salaries Around the Nation
A television host of a local show has the best chance to earn a high salary at a station that reaches a large number of viewers. Because of this, many of the highest salaries in the nation are for positions in large cities. Nonetheless, hosts of programs in large cities who fail to attract a large audience may earn less than those in smaller towns. Television hosts in Orlando, Fla., earn the highest average annual salaries in the nation, £57,736 as of February 2011, according to Salary Expert. Hosts in Charlotte, N.C., earn the smallest average salary at £19,943.
The salary gap between local television hosts and those on national broadcasts is enormous. Oprah Winfrey, the highest-paid television host, earned £178 million in 2008, according to Forbes, while shock-jock turned multimedia talk mogul Howard Stern received the second-highest salary among talk-show personalities, £45 million in 2008. David Letterman earned £29 million --- the same as televised judge Judy Shindlin --- during the same period. To compare, Letterman's £29 million salary would be enough to pay the average salary to 892 television news anchors for a year.
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- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Broadcasting
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: News Anchors - Occupational Employment and Wages
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Actors - Occupational Employment and Wages
- Salary Expert: Television Host Salaries
- Forbes, "Hollywood's Top Paid Talking Heads," Lacey Rose, August 2008