- Oprah Winfrey
- Before The Oprah Winfrey Show
- Oprah’s Success
- The Other Side of Oprah
Oprah Winfrey Before The Oprah Winfrey Show
Oprah’s profession in television did not surprise her grandmother. She once said that ever since Oprah could speak, she was on stage. As a toddler she performed interviews on her corncob doll and the crows on her relative’s property. Oprah later noted her grandmother’s influence, stating Hattie Mae pushed Oprah to speak in public and “gave me a positive sense of myself”…
Working in local media, she was both the youngest news anchor as well as the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. She transferred to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV in 1976 to co-anchor the 6:00 news. Oprah then joined Richard Sher as co-host of WJZ’s local talk show People Are Talking, which originally aired on August 14, 1978. Oprah also hosted the local version of Dialing for Dollars there as well. In 1983, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago. The first episode aired on January 2, 1984.
The Oprah Winfrey Show Is Born
The months following Oprah’s take over, the show moved from last place in the standings to passing Donahue as the highest rated talk show in Chicago. The motion picture critic Roger Ebert coaxed her in to signing a syndication agreement with King World. Rodger forecasted that she would generate forty times as much revenue as his TV show, at the movies. The show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show,beginning September 8, 1986 it grew to a full hour, and broadcast nationally .
Oprah’s syndicated talk show brought in double Donahue’s national viewers, shifting Donahue as the number 1 day-time talk show in the United States of America. Oprah and Donahue’s many publicized contests were the topic of immense scrutiny.
The Buzz About Oprah’s New Show
Time magazine wrote: ” Few people would have bet on Oprah Winfrey’s swift rise to host of the most popular talk show on TV. In a field dominated by white males, she is a black female who overcame adversity. As interviewers go, she is no match for, say, Phil Donahue… What she lacks in journalistic toughness, she makes up for in plainspoken curiosity, robust humor and, above all empathy. Guests with sad stories to tell are apt to rouse a tear in Oprah’s eye… They, in turn, often find themselves revealing things they would not imagine telling anyone, much less a national TV audience. It is the talk show as a group therapy session.”
TV columnist Howard Rosenberg said, “She’s a roundhouse, a full course meal, big, brassy, loud, aggressive, hyper, laughable, lovable, soulful, tender, low-down, earthy and hungry. And she may know the way to Phil Donahue’s jugular.”
Martha Bayles from The Wall Street Journal wrote, “It’s a relief to see a gab-monger with a fond but realistic assessment of her own cultural and religious roots.”
Newsday’s Les Payne noticed, “Oprah Winfrey is sharper than Donahue, wittier, more genuine, and far better attuned to her audience, if not the world. “