Rachael Ray: Katie Doesn’t Need My Help

Rachael Ray could soon be battling Katie Couric in the syndication ratings wars, but don’t look for the veteran host, cable television star, author and all-around brand name to be cooking up any rivalries.

Instead, she is staying totally focused on her own recipe for success as CBS Television Distribution’s The Rachael Ray Show nears its 800th episode and Ray’s brands and businesses keep growing.

But while Ray doesn’t think Couric needs much seasoning on the talk show front, she does have some thoughts on making a talk show work. So as she prepares for her appearance at B&C’s Women of New York confab on April 20, she took a moment out of her schedule to chat with B&C’s Paige Albiniak.

There’s been a lot of press lately about Katie Couric coming to syndication. What advice would you give her on doing a daytime talk show?

She needs no advice from me or anyone else about anything. I adore her. I for one will hopefully be at work when her show airs, but assuming that’s the case, I will record her show every day and race home to watch it. I can’t wait.

What has doing a daytime talk show taught you that has come as a total surprise?

Every day has been a total surprise to me. I’m a waitress from upstate New York, so this whole world is surprising to me. I worked in restaurants and brought people their dinner, I didn’t sit down and chit-chat with Al Gore and Oscar winners. Now I’m welcomed into the conversations and lives of people I admire. We sit down together and I find that they are very accessible.

Did you do any training to prepare yourself for all of the interviews that you now do?

I’ve been a talker all of my life, certainly. It’s something you really can’t learn other than by trial and error. You have to have conversations with people and listen to yourself in a different way. After a while, you learn not to step on them as much. No one has ever wanted me to go out and be Barbara Walters.

A good portion of the content on your show is centered around philanthropy. Was that always something you intended for the show?

However you make your living, it should be a natural conduit for giving back. So I’m concerned with childhood obesity, and eradicating hunger. I own a pit bull, so it makes a lot of sense for me to do animal advocacy and that sort of content on the show. The show is in part a reflection of who I am and what my interests are. I always want to remain true to myself, and the public always senses if you are putting something on one way or another.

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.