Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Phil Donahue

Phil Donahue (born December 21, 1935) is the inventor of the talk-show format in which the host goes into the audience to put the microphone in front of members of the audience to let the audience make comments and ask questions. He did this on "The Phil Donahue Show" (1970-1996).

In spite of being the first, he eventually lost ratings to shows like "Oprah" which did the same, and his daytime show was cancelled.

In 2002, Phil Donahue returned to television to host a show called "Donahue" on MSNBC. It's debut ratings were strong, but its audience evaporated over the following months. In late August 2002, it got the lowest possible Nielsen rating of 0.1, significantly less than Connie Chung's 0.6 and Bill O'Reilly's 1.0, and less than MSNBC's average for the day of 0.2.

The low-ratings of Phil Donahue's MSNBC show has led some to question whether any liberal can get good ratings in the hourlong, cable-news talk-show format.