BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

The End of an Era

Posted by egehl on December 14, 2009

Love her or hate her, she’s an icon.  And for die hard fans it came as a shock to find out that Oprah will be leaving her talk show in 2011. 

I must admit I’ve watched a lot of Oprah in my time.  Most of my Oprah watching happened during the years I Tivo’ed her show everyday (yes I know, a bit much).  During that time I certainly knew about every celebrity, social problem facing the country and learned why The Secret could change my life.  Now after getting rid of Tivo I only catch her occasionally, and must say I still enjoy her talk show more than any other. 

Oprah’s rise to fame is quite amazing.  She came from a poor family in a small rural town in Mississippi and through a love of education, hard work and perseverance worked her way up the ladder in the entertainment world. 

She was reared by her grandmother on a farm where she “began her broadcasting career” by learning to read aloud and perform recitations at the age of three. From age six to 13, she lived in Milwaukee with her mother. After suffering abuse and molestation, she ran away and was sent to a juvenile detention home at the age of 13, only to be denied admission because all the beds were filled. As a last resort, she was sent to Nashville to live under her father’s strict discipline.

Her broadcasting career began at age 17, when she was hired by WVOL radio in Nashville, and two years later she signed on with WTVF-TV in Nashville as a reporter/anchor.  Thereafter she moved to Baltimore to join another news cast as a co-anchor and eventually went to Chicago to host a faltering local talk show.  That talk show turned into the hottest show in town and soon expanded into one hour, The Oprah Winfrey Show.  And the rest is history. 

Since then her star power and media prowess has only continued to grow and expand. Every year Forbes names Oprah in the top 5 of their Celebrity 100 list.  Her earnings last year came in just under $300 million thanks to her talk show, monthly magazine and $55 million deal with XM satellite radio.  She recently debuted the Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communication, and her Harpo production company helped create Dr. Phil and The Rachael Ray Show. 

It’s amazing the amount of influence she holds through all of her communication vehicles.  As a woman, I am proud of her success.  She has remained a powerful figure in the media for almost 25 years and that deserves some kudos.  There is no doubt Oprah has opened doors for countless women who have pursued television careers.  Regardless of how you feel about her personality and views, it’s an achievement to maintain such a high level status in our ever changing, fickle entertainment industry. 

Oprah’s ability to secure high profile guests will be hard to reproduce.  She has a unique way of getting her guests to open up in a very honest and forthright way, which humanizes and exposes them.  These interviews along with her giant giveaways keep the show unpredictable, compelling and a fun distraction for an afternoon. 

Like many others, I will miss seeing the world through Oprah’s eyes.  If you felt out of the loop with pop culture, current events and controversial issues you could usually get caught up with a show or two.  But never fear the media mogul will certainly stick around through her magazine, radio show and other television programs. 

She will be a hard act to follow and it will be interesting to see who tries.

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One Response to “The End of an Era”

  1. joyinhome said

    You know how I feel about your “Opes.” With that said, her trailblazing success is undeniable, particularly for a woman of color. However rest assured, she’s not going anywhere. She is moving to her network, however we may see something new and exciting in terms of format.

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