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On the hot seat: How to host informative and engaging TV show

By Janet Kipya

A TV host is crucial in ensuring interviews are engaging, informative and entertaining. A skilled TV host welcomes the audience, introduces the show and guests, takes charge, and creates a dynamic environment for the guests and the audience to engage. Where the host fails to fulfil this role effectively, the result is a boring interview that leaves the audience lost.

On August 15, Morning Café Show on TV 47, the host Flora Lemukii interviewed Ummi Bashir, Principal Secretary in the State department of Culture and Heritage. It became evident that Limukii was overshadowed by the guest. This highlights the importance of a TV host’s active engagement in an interview, ensuring that their voice is heard, and their role clearly demonstrated.

Ummi Bashir, Principal Secretary (PS) in the State department of Culture and Heritage during the interview.

A TV host ought to have conducted thorough research prior to the show. Flora asked the PS to explain about his role as the permanent Secretary of the State Department of Culture and Heritage, which falls under the Ministry of Tourism, and gracefully stepped back. Lack of follow-up questions allowed uninterrupted and lengthy statements by the PS.

A skilled TV host knows when a question has been satisfactorily answered, or not, and probes with further questions. The follow-up questions aim to extract insights that might not have been uncovered in the initial query and to maintain audience interest. Bashir’s response was full of potential avenues for further discussion.

Through follow- up questions, should have asked the guest for concrete examples, elaboration on the effectiveness of these measures, and any challenges or limitations encountered in their implementation. The interview also lacked ample audience participation.

Citizen TV and KTN News present good case studies on what hosts ought not to do in interviews. A month ago, Citizen TV was flagged for poor moderation skills during the late-night show, Jeff Koinange Live, where Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina and UDA secretary general Cleophas Malala were the guests. As the popular show progressed, unacceptable and demeaning utterances were made by the senator to Malala but the host failed to interject. He ought to have called for retraction and apology from Ole Kina.

Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange hosting Narok Senator and UDA SG a month ago during the JKL show.

Back in June 2016 Jeff Koinange while at KTN News hosted activist Boniface Mwangi and Moses Kuria, then Gatundu South MP. The activist walked out of the interview when the MP was ushered in. He stated that Jeff lied as he was not alerted of Kuria’s invite. Mwangi said he could not appear on the same show with a guest who had been accused of hate speech. Of course, the host ought to have informed the guest of the identity of the other guest.

Jeff Koinange hosting Boniface Mwangi and Moses Kuria in an interview in 2016.

Although it is not the sole responsibility of the host, at times the disregard for gender balance in TV shows has been flagged. Citizen TV, Nyota TV, TV47 and KTN News have repeatedly constituted gender imbalanced panels. This violates Clause 16 of the Code of Conduct on gender non-discrimination.

Management of studio cameras should be professional. The camera person should strike a balance between capturing the guest reactions and expressions and ensuring consistent visibility of the host throughout the interview.

Aside the negative issues picked across the monitoring on hosting, good practices are monitored daily where the hosts excel in introductions, moderations, interviewing and reporting. For example, August 20-26, MCK monitoring reports noted that Citizen TV’s host Sam Gituku while hosting a panel to discuss devolution, apologised after a technical issue that affected the Daybreak show. This is evidence of accountability by the host and the station.

In conclusion, the role of a TV hosts during interviews remains paramount. Their responsibility extends beyond introducing guests. They steer the conversation, ask relevant and insightful questions, conduct adequate research, ask follow-up questions, and create a lively atmosphere for the guests and the audience. The effective TV host ensures the conversation is informative and engaging, leaving a lasting impact on the viewers.

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