Michael PalinProgram & Network: BBC Documentaries aired in the U.S. by the Travel Channel
Hosting Style: Like listening to your friend's cooler older brother (a funny one)
After each BBC trip, Palin would write a book about his travels, offering observations and insights not included in the TV show. With a combination of wit, historical accuracy, cultural empathy, and a gracious manner, Palin presents the world as a glorious gift to TV watchers everywhere, who obviously take his advice, too: The "Palin Effect" describes the dramatic increase in tourism that occurs in countries that are featured in his shows.
HOSTING STYLE: Colorful (in the sense that he'd get beeped a lot on a broadcast channel)
Although he may have worked a bit too hard creating (and/or living up to) his "bad boy chef" reputation, it is clear from watching Anthony Bourdain throw himself into the world's strangest cuisines and cultures that he does not need assertiveness training. The theme of "No Reservations" is a sort of grit-your-teeth-and-hold-your-nose courage, just what you need when quaffing hallucinogenic tree-bark tea or sampling candied insects.
Whether he's passing out in Peru or kvetching in Kiev, Bourdain never makes you guess what he's thinking. His show is "more than just a parade of weird foreign cultures and foods" because the man does display real intellectual curiosity. He seems quite eager to learn everything he can about the people he meets, the food that he eats, and the places he goes, then pass that on to his viewers with his stamp of approval. To many, Bourdain is still one of the top travel gurus working on TV today.
Tim Alan & Amy RogersPROGRAM & NETWORK: "Eye on Travel" on select cable, satellite, and IPTV channels
HOSTING STYLE:Just folks, but they do their homework and enjoy themselves
Alan and Rogers proudly announce their "love of family" as the incentive for dreaming up vacations and "travel adventures" that will thrill dads, moms, and kids. The show features solid advice for stretching your vacation and travel budgets, but doesn't promote every low-cost destination – just the ones with lots of family-friendly activities. From tips on everything from RV travel and camping to exotic resorts, "Eye on Travel" succeeds because of its family focus, and this programming niche makes the show a useful tool for families who love to travel.
See how Travel Channel accentuated her, um, "personality" in the ad campaign for her 2009 debut?
HOSTING STYLE: She doesn't stoop (or strip) to conquer, relying instead on personality
Finding fame as Hugh Hefner's ex in "The Girls Next Door" suited Bridget Marquardt, and she decided it wouldn't be the fleeting kind. She got her own Travel Channel show, "Bridget's Sexiest Beaches," in 2009, and not just because she's gorgeous. She exudes sincerity, has a winning personality, and earned a Masters Degree in Communications. Critics were divided on Marquardt's show, but it did make several "best" lists before ending after one season.
It is not clear if low audience share alone was to blame for the show's cancellation, as opposed to various personal and professional detours Marquardt was taking during the show's tenure. One of these non-parallel tracks took Marquardt into a new relationship with film director Nicholas Carpenter, son of Scott Carpenter, an original Mercury Program astronaut, and Maria Roach Carpenter, whose father was Golden Era film producer Hal Roach. Marquardt is currently developing a new reality TV series.
PROGRAM & NETWORK: "Globe Trekker" on PBS
HOSTING STYLE: Smart with a quirky sense of humor
Before "Globe Trekker" beckoned, McCormick taught English in Japan, did a stint as a social worker, and worked on "The News with Brian Williams" at MSNBC. Her own, independent, extensive travels have taken her throughout Asia, the South Pacific, and Europe, while the TV gig has added India, Hawaii, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Micronesia, and the Arab Gulf to the list of locales she's visited. With authority, sensitivity, and smarts, McCormick makes the world a fascinating (and inviting) place for viewers, about the best you can do as a TV travel show host.
Choosing "the best" in any field is a highly subjective task, and it doesn't always mean that the most popular, well-liked, or top-rated person or program will make the cut. For travel show hosts, however, knowledge of the subject matter is key, followed closely by communications skills and personality. That personality can be brash or bubbly, assertive or cordial, as there are any number of niches that can be targeted in this age of megamedia. Who is your favorite travel show host?
- http://www.eyeontravel.tv/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridget_Marquardt
- http://www.pilotguides.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Palin