If you've watched QVC for more than a few minutes (and come on, just admit it -- you totally have), perhaps you've been amazed at the various hosts' abilities to sell a very high volume of clothes, jewelry and food items, many of which you may find tasteless or unnecessary. Why are hosts pushing buyers to purchase this stuff, and often in multiple sets?
And yet, you don't change the channel. Especially not when host David Venable is on. His program, "In The Kitchen With David," is QVC's most watched show, and you can understand why after you watch it for five minutes. He LOVES food. He does a "happy dance" when he tastes something especially good, and he has some great on-air catchphrases. If you think you're not in the market for a comfort food cookbook, Venable will likely change your mind. He could taste dog food and convince people to buy it. And Venable isn't faking it -- he really does like the products he helps to sell.
"Every product we bring to QVC and to 'In The Kitchen With David' is a great product and always a star," Venable told The Huffington Post during a recent tour and taping at QVC.
Hosts like Venable find success in part because they are fed real-time data about minute-to-minute purchases, as cookbook author Chris Chamberlain notes in an interesting essay on Food Republic:
The hosts manage to keep up an easy conversation with the guests and the audience while the segment producers stream real-time information about sales in their ear. "Phone calls spiked when you bit into that brownie. Go back to the desserts!" That feedback loop and the host's comfort with driving the process was really extraordinary.
QVC hosts are also just very good at talking about the minutiae of various products and why you should buy them. For guest hosts -- like Chris Pryme, who is on QVC about 15 times a month representing Lock & Lock -- training entails an eight-hour QVC "school" or online class. For hosts like Venable, there are weekly meetings with the planning department.
There's no script or teleprompter. Things will go wrong -- callers will be screened but prank ones will still occasionally get through. It's up to the host to roll with the punches, and keep suggesting why you need that Temp-tations set in yet another pattern.
Through it all, the hosts and staffers are extremely nice -- and not just to the media. Nice enough that this author started thinking that maybe QVC is actually an amazing place, not a bizarre reality where overly sweet cookies are sold as if they are a quality or unique product.
While QVC may not feature a ton of cutting-edge kitchen tools or the hot cookbooks du jour, it is tuned in to overall home cooking trends.
"I think America is looking for food that is quick, accessible, wonderful, filling and good for their families," Venable said. Whether or not you think QVC fulfills that mission, Venable at least succeeds at making you feel like he's on your side.
"Just like our viewers at home, I'm a home cook," he said. A home cook that is really, ridiculously excited about his job.
And on those days where you just need to tune out for a bit, Venable is there for you, smiling up a storm and telling you he understands your kitchen woes. Even if his ultimate goal is to get you to buy something.
Check out QVC behind-the-scenes: