History of Late Night Talk Shows in the U.S.

As an analytical and visually oriented individual that I am, a curious mind, always interested in learning more about the science of technology as well as human life and behavior, I found myself watching some of my favorite TV shows the other day and thought:

This late night talk show TV scene has been pretty hectic here in the U.S. for the past few years, as far as the amount of host changes coming from other late night talk shows and all.

I then embarked a few hours journey on researching and reading on the history of what has happened in that segment of the entertainment market for the past 60 years or so. It is amazing to see how much data and history Wikipedia can hold on such a niche topic. Found some interesting patterns of both human behavior as well as business methods when it comes to strategy, management and marketing overall.

After gathering so much factual data and having a 10,000 feet view over what had occurred in a timespan of 6 decades, I decided to look for more visual and easier to interpret ways that information could have been documented. The N. Y. Times had published what seemed to be the most visual compilation of the information I was looking for but it was very focused on one show only. I liked that it was built as an interactive tool also, but that was not a requirement in my mind.

Others were more generic in compiling a list/timeline but still offered no clear way to picture the many switches of chair amongst hosts. I had all the information but it was still a complex task to follow in my mind the paths of each show and host and how they had changed/evolved over the years.

It was also interesting to learn that some networks count on leveraging the talent from other shows they produce (aside from poking talent from other networks) and use that as a main ladder for talent to move up between time slots and potential viewing ratings opportunities.

Particularly refreshing was to learn that over time, the scene had promoted for a huge variety of styles and tones, from politically and satirically inclined to more internet connected and interactive formats. I thought aside from looking at the network and shows themselves I should look at it from the perspective of the hosts themselves, where they came from and where they went afterwards.

I decided to venture into researching around parallel reality/timeline plotting and what other people used to trace such an amount of timelines in a single graph especially considering different key people. If you are a fan of space-time continuum theory and related entertainment you may find these attempts at projecting it amusing.

Another reference I had was how the various agencies document subway and train lines and stations in the cities as well as candidate polls evolution.

The result is as follows (you may want to download in PDF form for higher resolution or click the image below for a zoomed in rendering):

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