Host Roles

Certain forms of entertainment feature the distinct role of “host”, a figure who acts as the point of access for an audience. All hosts introduce a program and provide the initial point of access; though, this is where the common features end. Some hosts move beyond the simple introduction and act as an advocate for the audience by pushing guests to properly express his or her message.

Melvyn Bragg, of the BBC’s In Our Time is a host who performs this role of “audience advocate” most effectively. By pressing his guests for clarity and depth, he acts less as a host and more as an educator-in-chief whose sole focus is maximizing the value of the audience’s time. Bragg’s pressure on guests is palpable when listening to the program and its often evident that the studio is tense from a certain, unspoken expectation.

Bragg’s work is a contrast to other media hosts who perform a far less active role in relation to the audience. Some hosts simply field questions while others barely exist in the conversation. Often the purpose of the appearance is the defining factor. Figures aiming to promote a new book or movie are not interested in providing a thorough education- if anything they are looking to withhold the best tidbits of the work as a means to tease interest and spark sales. Furthermore many celebrities are not interested in being challenged and are using the appearance and the host as a moment to stoke public awareness.

The unique role of host in media is something worth deeper consideration. More to come? Maybe.

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