When I think of Rolonda Watts, her deep, rich soothing voice. For those who don’t know her though, she was a talk show host during the 90’s of the hit show “Rolonda.” After years of working as a broadcast journalist. Eventually, Watts transitioned into talk with a show called “Attitudes” on Lifetime. Afterward, King World Productions, the syndicator of “Inside Edition” and The Oprah Winfrey Show gave Rolonda her own show.
With Watts as a producer and one of the owners of the show, it ran for four seasons from January 1994, to September 1997.
Watts eventually left the show in order to maintain her integrity.
Recently, celebrating talk show pioneers, Tamron Hall spoke with Rolonda about her decision to leave daytime talk.
See what she had to say.
“Well, in the nineties there were 50 million talk shows. And there were three of us, Jerry [Springer], me and Gerald [Rivera] that were trying to break through all the other shows that were already there. There were some sensational things that were going on, you know with all the baby daddy drama and all of this stuff. And it got to a point where it just got nasty. We had one show, Tamron, where there was a couple and the guy reveals that he was having an affair on this woman. And the woman says, ‘Well, I’m having an affair on you.’ And the guy stood up and went [pretends to hawk salivia] and spit on this woman. And I said ‘No more. I cannot do this.’ I can’t take a shower after every show. And I came out and apologized to the audience. I gave everybody pizza. They gave me a standing ovation. And I said, ‘I don’t want this to be the direction that the Rolonda show goes to.’ Tamron, your name is up there. Everybody else will go off and get other jobs but it’s about your brand.”
We were the only talk show that had a seat in the O.J. Simpson trial. We had the first exclusive with Tonya Harding. We had Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents on. We had talked to LaToya Jackson back when all the stuff was happening with Michael. We even went down in Miami when we were dealing with immigration issues.
Tamron: With all of those accomplishments, was it hard to walk away?
Rolonda: I think at the time—a talk show doesn’t determine who I am. Even with my podcast, Rolonda on Demand, I’m talking about it. And I’ve been doing commentary on some of the new shows. Yes, you do miss that hour of power to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. Because we were talking about things people didn’t want to talk about. And then we got to a point your difference had to be about how sensational you were without being compelling at all, that’s when I said I got to do something else. Spelman College and Columbia University and Velma and Sonny Watts [her parents] ain’t having it.”