The History of the Home Shopping Channel Host

Back in 1977, Clearwater, Florida radio station owner Lowell ‘Bud’ Paxson was collecting money from local companies that advertised on his station. One local company, a hardware store owner, refused payment, insisting that not one single customer had heard the broadcast of his radio advertisements. Paxson and the store owner argued back and forth, eventually coming to a compromise: Instead of a financial payment, the store owner gave Paxson a box filled with electric can openers. Paxson took the box, and returned to the radio station.

When the station’s talk radio host, Bob Circosta, was on a newsbreak, Paxson asked Circosta to sell these can openers to his audience. Circosta initially objected, but soon complied with his Paxson’s wishes. “I looked at him like he had three heads,” Circosta said, recalling the moment. “I thought it would be unethical because I was trying to be a serious host.” When Circosta returned to the airwaves, he began describing the can openers and asking listeners to buy them.

All 112 can openers were purchased in under an hour.

Sensing the vast profit potential of this concept, Paxson launched a shopping channel on local Tampa cable television, later launching nationwide with the Home Shopping NetworkBob Circosta was the first ever home shopping host to appear on either radio, local television, and national television, eventually selling over 75,000 different products and inventions, netting over 20,000 hours of live airtime, and selling over one billion dollars worth of merchandise in the decades that followed.

In addition to Bob Circosta, other early home shopping hosts were Alice ClevelandBobbi Ray CarterTina BerryDan DennisJohn Cremeans, and Lisa Robertson.

On all the major television shopping channels, the home shopping host will stay on the air for three to five hours at a time, welcoming several new guests and demonstrating many new products. Since products and guests are often only given 10 or 15 minutes to sell their product in the world ofhome shopping, it’s not uncommon for a host to be required to introduce 20 or more different products and inventions during their shift. Being quick-witted, personable, and likeable is essential for a host, as well as being able to make quick transitions from one product to another. Additionally, with networks like HSN and QVC routinely debuting brand new inventions and products, the host must also quickly articulate to the audience why the item is worth purchasing.

All the national American home shopping channels are broadcast live, 24-hours a day, so mistakes and errors cannot be edited out. This has led to some memorable on-air home shopping bloopers, such as a QVC demonstrator falling from a ladder and getting injured, or a HomeTV host insisting that a moth in a photograph is actually a horse.

Many of the guests who accompany the home shopping host on-air are not particularly TV-savvy or experienced, so the host must help guests better define the attributes and value of the items being showcased.

Because of the large influx of guests and products, hosts often lack the time to study the product beforehand, which increases the need for an effective host to possess sufficient verbal skills to mask this lack of direct product knowledge.

From our home page you can click on links that will take you to information on your favorite hosts from today and in the past!