Oprah: The Long Goodbye
Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of Talk Shows, recently announced that she would end her reign, after 25 seasons, on September 9, 2011.
By Brian Intern
The show is over folks, after 25 years of talking to America and the world, Oprah Winfrey has decided to leave the interview couch. On Friday, Nov. 13, she announced her decision to end the Oprah Winfrey show in September 2011. She made her announcement during a live program holding back tears and expressing her gratitude towards her audience and viewers. She said the decision “feels right in her bones, and it feels right in my spirit.” As the Oprah Winfrey Show” marches to the end, it is momentous to remember how she began.
Born Oprah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954 to Vernita Lee, a housemaid and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner and later a barber before becoming a councilman. She grew up in a small farming community but had a troubled beginning. Winfrey experienced many misfortunes early in life eventually moving to live with her father. In 1971, she began Tennessee State University and started working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
Winfrey moved to Baltimore in 1976 where she hosted a TV chat show called “People Are Talking.” After eight years with a hit show, she was offered her own morning show by a Chicago TV station, “A.M. Chicago.” Winfrey’s personality and style won her many viewers and raised her ratings well above her major rival, Phil Donahue. She rose to prominence nationwide, which landed her a part in the Color Purple, produced by Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg, her first movie for which she was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress.
In 1986, the Oprah Winfrey Show started as a nationwide syndicated show grossing $125 million by the end of its first year with an estimated audience of 10 million viewers. The show was on 120 channels with a continually increasing audience, Winfrey gained ownership of the program from ABC and the Oprah Winfrey Show came under the control as a part of her new production company Harpo Productions. And the rest is history–media history, American history and world history.
Since then Winfrey has spawned a media empire, have become a media mogul and the richest and most powerful woman in the world. She has become Midas of the media–everything she touches turns to gold. Her media empire includes the Oprah Winfrey Show, Harpo Productions, Harpo Films, O Magazine, Oprah Radio, Oprah Angel Network, Oprah’s Book Club, The Oprah Store, and coming will be her cable network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
Don Cornelius, who made television history himself with Soul Train, as the longest-running syndicated music-related television program, said, “Oprah Winfrey has proven herself–many times over–to be one of the greatest multi-media geniuses of all time.”
And Clarence Avant, former chairman of Motown Records, music mogul and legendary Godfather to a generation of entertainers, said, “In all fairness, Oprah should offer me the job and it has nothing to do with age, I hope. But after that, not only do I look at her as a role model to the American public–crossing all racial and ethnic lines–if she doesn’t want to give me the job, she can loan me some money. I wish her nothing but the best in her new venture which is the O Network (Oprah Winfrey Network-OWN) and I’m extremely happy for her, whatever she decides to do. I wish her well.”
Winfrey was an avid supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Her support garnered him a lot of attention during the primary season. She was present in many rallies during the early primaries in the states of South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa, and by showing her support for Obama, citing his achievements outside Washington as his strength and sign of success, she was able to sway millions of voters towards him.
There’s no comparison when it comes to daytime talk show ratings. Neither “Ellen,” nor “Dr. Phil” comes close to Oprah’s audience. When she finally leaves the landscape in 2011, no one will feel the shaking more violently than local TV stations. She has demonstrated the innate ability to rise against amazing odds and achieve success. Her life has proven to be one of substantial credit, strength and humanity. The Oprah Winfrey Show may end in 2011 but her legacy will continue for many, many years.