What I’ve learned about business being a TV show host

By GREGORY STOLLER

Twenty-four episodes, 92 interviews and 36 on location shoots. Each one has taught something new, not just about hosting a television show but also about life in general.

I started the Language of Business to provide information to viewers but in the process, I learned much more than I expected.

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The Language of Business host films on location at a New Hampshire business for an episode of his Sunday morning show. 

A TV show brings a unique challenge–the average viewer has just a five-second attention span and we need to balance style and substance. And yet, it’s not so different than the challenges we all face every day. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

It takes teamwork
I often remind my business students that entrepreneurship is a team sport. This project has cemented that lesson. It’s one thing to come up with show themes, book the guests and deliver a strong interview, essentially my value-add. But it’s quite another to balance the lighting, have consistent audio and edit the content down to 22 minutes on a weekly basis. Yet another set of skills is required to leverage social media and tell people our show exists.

Attention to detail matters
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but don’t forget that perspectives vary. Our home station’s GM certainly watches each episode for content, but often even more so for its technical merits. The executive producer will regularly drive an hour from home to capture external video relating to a guest’s on-air comments—even if what they said was cryptic in nature and might only account for five seconds in a 30-minute show. And when I tune in, I’m equally analyzing every interview for its business potential—how can we help this entrepreneur to further develop his or her business, well beyond their five-minute Language of Business appearance?

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Keep it simple
Several years ago, when I was a first-time guest on a national radio call-in show, I figured I’d impress the listeners by using a preponderance of $5 and $10 words. The phones were quiet all night and when I got home I got an earful: “People aren’t creative at times—just give them the facts and make it interesting.”

Fortunately, I received an invite back and took a completely different tack. The phones were lit up all night and I heard several people never even made it on the air. For the TV show, each week we rewrite the questions, edit the content and take a good, hard look to make sure even the most complicated topics are delivered in an easy to understand and relevant fashion.

Share your ideas
Perhaps the most important lesson is to ensure you always add your voice to any discussion—on air or off. Success in business doesn’t come from hoarding new ideas or secretly communicating with your executive team. You will and others will benefit from opening up the discussion.


The Language of Business ® is an independently produced news magazine which mixes in-studio and on-locations interviews with entrepreneurs. It airs Sunday mornings at 11 on WBIN-TV, Verizon channel 506 and Comcast channel 811 (in Massachusetts). Always available online, too, at www.languageofbusiness.biz.

Greg Stoller is also a senior lecturer, and is actively involved in building entrepreneurship, experiential learning and international business programs at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.