It was 30 years ago this fall that Oprah Winfrey first said “hellooooo” to a national audience. By the show’s finale in 2011, it was aired in 145 countries and watched by more than 40 million viewers a week in the U.S. alone. Today’s daytime hosts like Ellen and Dr. Oz? They now average only about a tenth of that.
If Oprah mentioned a book title, it became a best-seller. She landed the interviews that no one else could get. Her message of spirituality and empowerment influenced millions.
With an hourlong daytime TV show, Oprah built a powerful brand. She made billions. And, as CNN, USA Today, Forbes and Time Magazine all proclaimed, she became the most powerful woman in America.
In the first of a three-part podcast series, Oprah and former producers talk with WBEZ's Jenn White about the early, scrappy days of the program. Phil Donahue reflects on Oprah's entry into the daytime talk landscape that he once dominated. Plus, the podcast revisits milestones from the 1980s, like the show's national debut, and some mixed feelings over the show's highest-rated episode ever.