By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
Oprah Winfrey. The name is known the world over as she as reached millions of homes through her groundbreaking talk show. She is definitely a woman to be honored as we honor Women’s Month.
Born Oprah Gail Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954, she would come a long way from the small farming community where she grew up. Winfrey would have to battle through some misfortunes in her youth but they would serve as a foundation on which she would build a legacy.
In 1971, she began Tennessee State University and started working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville. She would later move to Baltimore in 1976, where she hosted a TV chat show called “People Are Talking” and later went on to have her own show, “A.M. Chicago.”
She rose to prominence nationwide, and would try her hand in acting with a part in the Color Purple, produced by Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg, her first movie. Winfrey was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress.
In 1986, the Oprah Winfrey Show became 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.
Winfrey’s media empire has made her one of the most powerful women 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 her new cable network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
OWN began with an average of 1 million viewers during a three-hour block according to Nielsen Co. ratings at the beginning of this year. The station is said to have gained the target attention of the 25-54 year old demographic with its programs. The network debuted with “Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes,” “Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag,” “The Gayle King Show,” and host of other shows targeted for everyone. OWN is still building its momentum and plans to reveal much more in the coming year and beyond.
As Winfrey takes on her new endeavors, it is certain she will continue to be a forerunner in her new role and an inspiration to all.