If you have ever looked for original content to consume on a weekday, chances are you are familiar with the talk show category. Everything from the old days of Oprah, Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Ricki Lake, Geraldo, Rosie O’Donnell and – embarrassingly – The Jerry Springer Show – to current entries like Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live with Kelly and Ryan, The Wendy Williams Show, Kelly Clarkson and those two network stalwarts – The View and The Talk — have cluttered the airwaves. But don’t be fooled. Finding the next big name – or two – in daytime talk is no easy feat.
The list of daytime talk show hosts over the years is lengthy.
“There is never any shortage of personalities attempting to tackle daytime talk,” noted media analyst Bill Carroll. “If it works, it can last for years – decades, in fact. And that includes both in the general entertainment/variety and issue-themed formats. But there needs to be an inherent connection from the host to the target audience — women, in particular – tuning in.”
“These days, particularly after the pandemic hit, the modern-day version of the traditional talk show format is becoming the podcast, and it has increased in value for marketers and for anyone attempting to tackle doing one,” noted Robert Russo, President and CEO of RNR Media Consulting, and EVP of Itality.com. “Podcast listeners are a highly engaged audience and a venue to share content and reach new people. And I personally think that viewers are simply tired of celebrities, or pseudo celebrities, lecturing them on everything.”
“I also believe these entitled talk show hosts who are trying to tell non-entitled regular people what to do, what to think, and how to do it are also partially to blame for the ongoing audience erosion in the category,” he added. “So, why not take a successful podcast that already feels comfortable and familiar and transform it to on-screen and as an option in daytime?”
Enter Forever 35
If you are a woman of any age (25-54, in particular), or perhaps someone of the opposite sex who has a vested interest in the subjects covered, you are probably familiar with Forever35, the thrice weekly podcast from Acast hosted by LA-based writers and friends Doree Shafrir and Kate Spencer. As the biggest podcast marketplace in the world, Acast reaches podcast audiences in 175 countries. The shows range in topics from entertainment, lifestyle and LGBTQ to sports, newsmakers and more.
Forever35 is described as a podcast about the “things we do to take care of ourselves,” and the origins began in 2018 following a simple text about the subject of skin care.
“We both felt that there were conversations that people, particularly women, were having that we were not hearing or seeing in the selection of podcasts out there,” said Kate Spencer. “So, our podcast really just grew out of this idea to have a fun place; a place where we could really be vulnerable and honest about what self-care really looks like.”
Spencer is a wife and mother of two girls (ages 10 and 8), the author of 2017 memoir The Dead Moms Club and upcoming novel In a New York Minute, a freelance writer and stand-up comedy performer, and – previously – a senior producer, writer and on-air host at VH1.
“We started with the idea of talking about skin care and it grew instantly about all the things we wanted to discuss,” she said. “Since the podcast actually launched in front of an audience, I feel like our audience drove so much of the discussion and what we talk about. Often times, we are educated by the people who are our listeners.”
“Initially, when Kate asked me to do this podcast, I never thought this would become my full-time job,” explained Doree Shafrir, who at the time was employed as an editor at BuzzFeed. “But it just kind of quickly too off, and we had advertisers from the first episode. So, after a couple of months I quit my job and made this my priority. Now, in addition to Kate and I, we have a producer, and individuals who handle sales and social media.”
A wife and mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Shafrir also co-hosts podcast Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure with her husband Matt. Her first novel, Startup, was published in 2017; and her memoir, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer, came out this year. She has also written about culture, women’s issues, parenting, media, and celebrities.
“After a couple of months of doing the podcast, we were getting so many emails and voicemails from listeners that we decided to do a mini episode each week that would just be us responding,” noted Shafrir. “It really felt so comfortable from the beginning; there was clearly good chemistry between us, which I think can be a challenge if you have a podcast with two hosts. Kate and I really saw eye to eye on not just what we wanted the podcast to be, but what kind of guests we were interested in and what the format of the show would look like.”
Forever35’s publishing structure is mix of full episodes, which run for about an hour, and mini-episodes of 20 to 30 minutes in length each. The featured guests are predominantly women and gender non-conforming, ranging from other writers and skincare experts to friends and entertainers. Included on the guest roster to-date are politician Madeleine Albright, actresses Busy Phillips and Keiko Agena, actress and comedian Whitney Cummings, Access Hollywood correspondent Zuri Hall, food writer and chef Alison Roman, journalist and author Elizabeth Gilbert, and showrunner, screenwriter and filmmaker Sierra Teller Ornelas.
“By definition, Forever35 is a podcast. But, after listening, this is more of a conversation that makes the audience feel like they are part of instead of just being spoken to,” noted Mike Tankel, partner/optimist at marketing and development firm To Be Continued. “Kate and Doree are not experts. They are friends, they are honest, and they allow us to agree, disagree, discuss, engage and grow — all by reflecting our very own thoughts. That in itself is the ‘secret sauce’ of a successful talk show host.”
“I think these two ladies do a great job of conversing with the audience,” added Robert Russo. “They are knowledgeable, relatable, familiar, funny, and a bit zany at times – and it all works. For the female audience, or anyone who has an interest, it is like talking to a friend about topics they are interested in and care about.”
In addition to the podcast, Forever35 is featured as a twice monthly email newsletter featuring highlights, product reviews, discounts, giveaways and bonus content. There is also a Facebook group, and more than 100 spinoff Facebook groups (from local to international, and focused on different interests).
“There is a real thirst for the kind of conversations were are having,” noted Shafrir. “And our listeners want to co-exist in an environment like our Facebook page or via Instagram that feels safe, comfortable and informative.”
“What has been truly mind-blowing is the range of women we have heard from,” said Spencer. “The most humbling and most inspiring thing about doing the show is getting to communicate with people we didn’t know, or expect, to show up. We have heard from girls as young as age 13 and other teenagers in high school to women in their late 70s. And that has been very gratifying.
Daytime Talk is About to Lose one of Its Stalwarts
ABC’s The View and CBS’ The Talk, now in their 25th and 12th seasons, respectively, show no signs of ending anytime soon, nor do many of the current occupants. But veteran syndicated entry The Ellen DeGeneres Show is concluding this spring, and the future of others (including sophomore The Drew Barrymore Show and aging The Doctors) are a question mark. So, the door is finally beginning to open in daytime talk.
“The disadvantage of a genre where so many occupants are housed for so many years is the lack of available time periods,” noted Bill Carroll. “It’s difficult to get a foothold without the available real estate, or in less desirable time periods where there are fewer eyeballs. So, Ellen’s ultimate exit, and the other potential departees means there will be a need for new talk shows next season.”
“Right now, I would take Doree and Kate from Forever35 and position them as guests on other shows to build the brand,” noted Robert Russo. “They are the market, they connect with the audience, and they have the potential to showcase the best of our emergence from the pandemic. And, doing their podcast keeps them on the radar.”
“Since have already mastered the latter, now they can forge ahead to the next opportunity,” he said.