The Phil Donahue Show
The Phil Donahue Show, also known as Donahue
Donahue (MSNBC program)
In 2002, Phil Donahue returned to television to host a show called Donahue on MSNBC. Its debut Nielsen ratings were strong, but its audience evaporated over the following months. In late August 2002, it got one of the lowest possible ratings , less than MSNBC's average for the day of 0.2. On...

, is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 television talk show
Talk show
A talk show or chat show is a television program or radio program where one person discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host....

 that ran for 26 years on national television. Its run was preceded by three years of local broadcast in Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

, and it was broadcast nationwide between 1967 and 1996.

In 2002, Donahue was ranked #29 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
TV Guides 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time is TV Guides list of the 50 most entertaining and influential television series in American pop culture...



In 1967, Phil Donahue
Phil Donahue
Phillip John "Phil" Donahue is an American media personality, writer, and film producer best known as the creator and host of The Phil Donahue Show. The television program, also known as Donahue, was the first to use a talk show format. The show had a 26-year run on U.S...

 left his positions as news reporter and interviewer at WHIO radio
WHIO is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format. Licensed to Dayton, Ohio, USA, the station serves the Cincinnati and Dayton area...

 and television
WHIO-TV, virtual channel 7, is the CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Dayton, Ohio, serving that state's Miami Valley area. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 from its transmitter on Germantown Street in western Dayton....

 in Dayton and became the host of a new television program, The Phil Donahue Show on WLWD (now WDTN
WDTN, virtual channel 2, is the NBC-affiliated television station for Ohio's Miami Valley. Licensed to Dayton, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 50 from a transmitter in the Frytown section of the city. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 2 and in...

), also in Dayton. His new program replaced The Johnny Gilbert
Johnny Gilbert
John L. "Johnny" Gilbert III is an American show business personality who has worked mainly on television game shows. Originally a nightclub singer and entertainer, he has hosted and announced a number of game shows from various eras, dating as far back as the 1950s...

 Show, when Gilbert left on short notice for Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 for a hosting job. On November 6, 1967, Donahue hosted his first guest, known atheist
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

 Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Madalyn Murray O'Hair was an American atheist activist and founder of the organization American Atheists and its president from 1963 to 1986. One of her sons, Jon Garth Murray, was the president of the organization from 1986 to 1995, while she remained de facto president during these nine years....

, 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
Crosley Broadcasting Corporation
The Crosley Broadcasting Corporation was a radio and television broadcaster founded by radio manufacturing pioneer Powel Crosley, Jr.. The company was an early operator of radio stations in the United States. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Crosley's flagship station was WLW...

 (which would later take the name of its parent Avco Company
Avco Corporation is a subsidiary of Textron which operates Textron Systems Corporation and Lycoming.-Brief history:The Embry-Riddle Company created the Aviation Corporation in 1928 as a holding company tasked with acquiring small airlines...

), which also owned WLWD. But, in January 1972, The Phil Donahue Show entered nationwide syndication
Television syndication
In broadcasting, syndication is the sale of the right to broadcast radio shows and television shows by multiple radio stations and television stations, without going through a broadcast network, though the process of syndication may conjure up structures like those of a network itself, by its very...

. The show paved the way for other issue-oriented daytime talk shows. For thirty years, it focused on serious issues and targeted female audience members by using emotional intrigues. Oprah eventually succeeded Phil Donahue's popular program.

Donahue relocated the show's home base to Chicago in 1974, first housing it at then-independent station
Independent station
An independent station is in the category of television terminology used to describe a television station broadcasting in the United States or Canada that is not affiliated with any television network....

WGN-TV, virtual channel 9 , is the CW-affiliated television station in Chicago, Illinois built, signed on, and owned by the Tribune Company. WGN-TV's studios and offices are located at 2501 W...

. 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.
Multimedia (media company)
Multimedia, Inc. was a media company that owned 10 daily newspapers, three weekly newspapers, two radio stations, five television stations, and a cable television system division...

 assumed production and syndication of the program, which was now known as simply Donahue. In 1982, Donahue moved the show to CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

-owned WBBM-TV
WBBM-TV, virtual channel 2 , is the CBS owned-and-operated television station in Chicago, Illinois. WBBM-TV's main studios and offices are located in The Loop section of Chicago, as part of the development at Block 37, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower.-History:WBBM-TV traces its history...

 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
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 group UTFO
UTFO is an old school hip-hop group, popular in the 1980s, that was mentored by the contemporary R&B group Full Force. The group consists of the Kangol Kid , the Educated Rapper , Doctor Ice , and Mix Master Ice...

. In 1985, Donahue moved the program's operations to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, housing them in NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

'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
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 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 Donahues 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
Alan Abel
Alan Abel is an American prankster, hoaxter, writer, mockumentary filmmaker, and jazz percussionist famous for several hoaxes that became media circuses.- Education and early career :...

 in what Abel said was a protest against what he termed as poor-quality television.

In 1992, Donahue celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his local and national program with a NBC special produced at the Ed Sullivan Theater
Ed Sullivan Theater
The Ed Sullivan Theater, located at 1697-1699 Broadway between West 53rd and West 54th, in Manhattan, is a venerable radio and television studio in New York City...

 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
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, whose own hugely successful national show was based in Donahue's former Chicago home base; and Sally Jessy Raphael
Sally Jessy Raphaël
Sally Lowenthal , better known as Sally Jessy Raphael, is an American talk show host, known for the eponymous Sally talk show she hosted for two decades.-Early years:...

, 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, and eventually Donahue and his program became a victim. Although ratings never declined he was dropped at his peak because of his views on the Gulf War, leading one station, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

-owned KGO-TV
KGO-TV, channel 7, is an owned-and-operated television station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company, based in San Francisco, California...

 in San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, to drop 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 stations, such as KTRK-TV
KTRK-TV, channel 13, is an owned-and-operated television station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company, located in Houston, Texas...

 in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, and KYW-TV
KYW-TV, virtual channel 3, is an owned and operated television station of the CBS Television Network, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. KYW-TV shares a studio facility with its sister station, CW flagship WPSG just north of Center City Philadelphia...

 in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, moved Donahue to a late-night time slot. 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 was taped on May 2, 1996, culminating in what remains to be the longest continuous run of any syndicated talk show in U.S. television history.

As a result of several acquisitions and mergers since that time, the Donahue show catalog is now the property of NBC Universal Television
NBC Universal Television
NBCUniversal Television Group is an American and global television production/distribution company and a subsidiary of NBCUniversal.The company is composed of six divisions: Universal Television , NBC Universal Television Stations, NBCUniversal Television Distribution, NBCUniversal...


International success

Donahue was also broadcast in the UK on the ITV Night time
Night Network
Night Network, Night Time and Night Shift were names given to the overnight schedule of the ITV network in the United Kingdom. The first ITV company began 24 hour broadcasting in 1986, with all of the companies broadcasting through the night by 1988...

 line up in the late 1980s
File:1980s decade montage.png|thumb|400px|From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifted off in 1981; American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The Fall of the Berlin Wall in...

, where it became cult viewing. After its success, Donahue made several shows in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 featuring some well-known celebrities from the country as guests, recorded mostly in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 but notably one programme recorded in Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, which had several members of the cast from the American sit-com Cheers
Cheers is an American situation comedy television series that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. It was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions, in association with Paramount Network Television for NBC, and was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles...

 and the Manchester-based soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 Coronation Street
Coronation Street
Coronation Street is a British soap opera set in Weatherfield, a fictional town in Greater Manchester based on Salford. Created by Tony Warren, Coronation Street was first broadcast on 9 December 1960...

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