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Talk Show Host Salary: The Top Talkers


Getting paid millions to talk is about the easiest job out there, but getting there is another matter. Forbes recently covered the topic of talk show host salary. You may be surprised to learn that the largest talk show host salary belongs to Howard Stern. The outrageous radio show host receives $500 million salary per his 5-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio. In addition to his talk show host salary, Howard received a bonus of 22.1 million company shares, reportedly valued at $82.9 million, bringing his total income (last year) to $302 million!

In second place is the more palatable Oprah Winfrey, who earned $225 million, but that wasn’t all based on her talk show host salary. The popular daytime gabber has several sources of income: Her talk show, weekly XM Satellite Radio show, part-ownership of Rachel Ray’s syndicated daily talk show and a voice-over role in the latest film adaptation of Charlotte’s Web; that doesn’t count her magazine, books and other Oprah-related merchandise.

How does your salary compare to the salary of a talk show host?  Find out with our salary calculator.

Salary of a Talk Show Host: Cont’d

The male version of Oprah, otherwise known as Dr. Phil, earned $45 million last year, but that is not all of his talk show salary; that includes six best-selling books, a monthly column in Oprah’s Magazine and an endorsement deal with For someone who preaches self-help, he’s certainly followed his advice, all the way to the bank!

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The salary of a talk show host David Letterman is nothing to snicker at. The late night comedian earned $40 million last year. Like Oprah, he also has part-ownership in his show. Dave still lags behind Tonight Show host Jay Leno in the ratings, but bests Jay’s $32 million talk show host salary. Jay does not own part of his show and has said that he does not touch his Tonight Show money, but rather lives off his personal appearances and live performances.

Job Description – Radio Talk Show Host

Love him or hate him, controversial talker Rush Limbaugh earned $30 million last year, even in the face of allegations of prescription drug fraud, and public fights with Parkinson’s victim/actor Michael J. Fox and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not bad for a guy who was a self-described “failure” at age 30. Now if he can just make up with Arnie and Mike.

Like the energizer bunny, Regis Philbin just keeps going and going, last year to the tune of $21 million! In addition to his salary from “Live with Regis and Kelly,” he also earned extra dough hosting NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Regis also did voiceover work in “Shrek the Third” and toured with soap star Susan Lucci in a musical cabaret.

Television Talk Show Host Jobs

Diane Sawyer gets up in the wee hours for her $12 million salary as host of Good Morning America. However, life hasn’t been perfect; Sawyer lost out on news anchor positions at both CBS and ABC News to former morning show host Katie Couric and former Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson. On the flip side, she’s married to director Mike Nichols who can always give her an acting gig.

The always volatile Bill O’Reilly earns $12 million for hosting Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. When he’s not fighting with fellow talker Al Franken or ridiculing the families of 9/11 victims, Bill hosts a call-in radio program and has written five best-sellers. America can’t seem to get enough of Bill O’Reilly.

Is your salary something to talk about? The PayScale Salary Calculator is a quick and easy way to compare positions. When you want powerful salary data and comparisons customized for your exact position, be sure to build a complete profile by taking PayScale’s full salary survey. 


Dr. Al Lee

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