Pastor Presence Expands on Screens

Related: T.D. Jakes Preps for Aug. 17 Launch

Bishop T.D. Jakes already seems to possess all the characteristics needed to be a successful daytime talk show host.

He’s the pastor of Dallas-based megachurch, The Potter’s House, with a congregation of approximately 30,000 people. But his group of virtual worshipers spreads beyond that. He already has social-media followings of many millions on Facebook—4.3 million on his T.D. Jakes Ministries page alone—and 1.92 million on Twitter.

Jakes appeals to an audience that’s readily available in daytime—family- and faith-minded women age 25-54. And while the research indicates that Bishop Jakes’ brand of faith-based talk appeals to a broad fan base, daytime historically indexes high among African- Americans. This group forms Jakes’ key constituents.

Jakes is no stranger to daytime. He’s appeared on Oprah, Dr. Phil and Steve Harvey. In 2009, CBS Television Distribution, in conjunction with Dr. Phil McGraw, tried to develop and launch a talk show starring Jakes, but the tough economic climate at the time stymied that effort.

But Jakes is a force of nature. While he preps for the launch of the four-week test of his new talk show T.D. Jakes, he’s wrapping a national book tour for Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose and prepping for MegaFest, a five-day festival of “Inspiration, Music, Entertainment and More” that will take place in Dallas from Aug. 19-23 in front of an audience of some 75,000 people. He’s also executive produced several movies targeted at this audience, including Sparkle (Whitney Houston’s final film); Woman, Thou Art Loosed; and Jumping the Broom.

Jakes spoke with B&C contributing editor Paige Albiniak about how he plans to fit his daytime debut in four Tegna markets on Aug. 17 into a busy schedule. An edited transcript follows.

You already have a pretty full plate. What makes you want to add a daytime talk show?

My company, T.D. Jakes Enterprises, has been involved in communication through entertainment for some time as it relates to movies, films, books and those sorts of things. I’ve had enough experiences doing projects with Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey and others that I feel fully prepared for this.

What makes me unique is I have a different set of experiences than any of them. I’ve been a pastor for 40 years, counseling with families in crisis. I’ve been involved in business, as well as faith, and I have my own family. Collectively, I think I bring something unique from any and all of them, although of course they all are incredible in their own rights.

How would you describe the format of this show? Will you have regular people seeking counsel, celebrities, ordinary people doing extraordinary things?

All of the above. I’ll try to help people who are stuck at pivotal moments in their lives. The only difference between what I do every day and what I’ll be doing on television is that there will be a camera there.

This isn’t a celebrity show, but if a celebrity is having a human problem and I think it would be effective, I would certainly bring him or her on. But the show isn’t necessarily geared toward celebrity—everyday people are incredibly interesting.

You are a bishop and a pastor by trade. How will that factor into this show?

All I have to bring to people is me, and faith is a part of who I am. This not a preaching moment, it’s a life moment. This will not be a faith-based show. If people are expecting TBN or Daystar, this will not be that. The show’s not going to be faith-based, but I’m also not trying to hide or divorce my faith from who I am.

My understanding is that you’ll also talk about current events and issues that surface in the news during this four-week run, such as the Supreme Court’s recent decision on gay marriage or police brutality and racism. How do you expect the show to handle those sorts of topics?

It will depend on the event, and we won’t try to tackle every topic that comes down the pike. But in some cases we will bring people on to discuss certain events. When we get there, I’ll take it one step at a time and listen to every perspective.

I’m not trying to make people think the way I think about any issue. This is just a great opportunity to have civilized conversations about what’s happening in society. As a society, we’ve become increasingly polarized. I think the tone and tenor of media today have consciously or unconsciously encouraged that.

What role will social media play in this four-week test?

I don’t think there’s any one element that has more greatly impacted our message in recent years than social media. It’s been a game changer beyond description. The physical audience is minute compared to the streaming audience. The way we disseminate information has literally changed everything about communicating with the broader audience. To not use this tool is to miss a wide audience of people who rely on it.

What is the one thing you want people to take away from watching this show?

I would want them to be uplifted. The premise of the way we are working with this show is the adage “It takes a village.” We want to get a village of people to weigh in with people who are facing challenges. Our intention and our goal is to inspire and uplift people to their highest potential. This is an opportunity to use television for its highest and best use.

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.