“The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Her show is known to not only all over the United States, but also known to all around the world. Today she is known as the America’s most famous and powerful woman. Every woman in America envies her great fortune and her intelligence. But Oprah insists that she is not special or gifted. She had overcome many hurdles and reached to the top of America’s national T.V host. What makes her so popular and most loved entertainer in the United States?
Oprah Winfrey, a talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist, and business woman is the chairwoman of HARPO entertainment in Chicago. She joins the elite company of Lucille Ball and Mary Pickford, as the only woman in T.V and film to own their own production studios. Through HARPO productions, she produces and hosts America’s number one popular show, “The Oprah Winfrey show”. (Oprah Winfrey talk show bio 1997 p.1) Today many woman in America envies her life; her popularity, intelligence and her great fortunes. Though her success was gained from her hard work and education. She did not have any special background to be a most loved woman in America. She has overcame number of obstacles that most people have encountered in their own lives. She had to deal with poverty, sexual abuse, racism as a child, and her lifelong battle with weight.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954. As a child, she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then moved back to Nashville. She has lived through poverty, repeated sexual abuse, and a sentence to a juvenile delinquent home. (Hyde 1997 p.57) Oprah was crowned Miss. Black Tennessee at age 19. In 1973. She left Tennessee State University and became a newscaster for WTVF in Nashville. Three years later, Oprah became a news anchor in Baltimore at an ABC station but after 9 months, she was pulled off the air because of an emotional ad-lib delivery. She eventually ended up in Chicago hosting a morning show called “AM Chicago”. In less than a year, the show became number one and was expanded to one hour and re-named “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. (http://pilot.msu.edu/user/bresnah2/oprahbio.htm 1997 p.1) From there, she has been an actress in the “Color Purple”, “The women of Breuster place” and “There are no children here”.(Oprah Winfrey)
Today, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is the highest rated talk show in T.V history, and seen by 15 to 20 million viewers a day in the United States and is in 132 countries. Since entering syndication in 1986, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has remained the number one talk show for 10 consecutive seasons, receiving 25 Emmys. At the end of 1996, Oprah was honored with the most prestigious award in broadcasting, the George Foster Peaboy’s Individual Achievement Award. She also received the IRTS Gold Medal Award, and was recognized by Time magazine as one of “America’s 25 most influential people of 1996”.(Oprah Winfrey talk show bio 1997 p1)
According to US news & World Report, Oprah has an ability called “Oprah effect”. It is her ability to make a connection with ordinary women and through that connection, she makes herself one of the most popular women (Dickerson 1997 p.10) In spite of her wealth, she has a public’s taste. She knows what ordinary women want, whatare their troubles and what they are crazy about. Stuart Fishoff, professor of media psychology at UCLA says, “viewers want to be around someone like themselves. They want a nonthreatning person they can identify with. And Oprah has a lot of same problems that many of these women has and can relate to. Viewers have no trouble envisioning her sitting home at the kitchen table in sweats and no makeup, drinking caffeine and chomping a Danish”.(Stanley 1997 p.34) This feeling of closeness is Oprah’s strongest point that makes her a billionaire. And to get more close with publics, Oprah picks up a book every six weeks and asks audience to talk about the title.
What makes her popular are not only her talent as an entertainer but also her talent as a good announcer. She has all requirements that are necessary for a good announcer. First, she always research and prepare about the topic of the day before the show. This preparation and research makes her able to answer any kind of controversial issues. And she is always able to support both sides of the issue and never makes the audience unsatisfied or misleaded. Second, she has a high self esteem. She always has confidence and are full of energy. Loosing many weights gave her more confidence and higher self-esteem and made her show even better than before. Third, she shows respects to audience and guests by listening really well to their opinions. She answers them with direct eye contact and with rational answers. Other characteristics that makes her a good announcer are her usage of appropriate words and language. She knows what words are appropriate to which races and ages. For an example, she knows some words which are O.K. to Afro-Americans but are taboo to White-Americans. She also shows interest in any kind of topics. This comes from her adventurous spirit and her eagerness to learn something new. She always talks in nice tempo and rates so that audience can follow her. And finally, she is very unique and funny that has a talent to make the other laugh. With these characteristics and her hard work, Oprah has become the best entertainer in American talk show.
Today Oprah is the highest-paid woman in entertainment. Her show is not just an entertainment but she deals with social problems which exist in all around the world. And she contributes her self and her show to make the country better. People not only praise her intelligence but her efforts to deal with these social issues. Today Oprah is using her philantrophic efforts to establish educational scholarship for hundreds of students in school and Universities throughout country, including 100 men at Morehouse University in Atlanta, Georgia.(Oprah Winfrey talk show bio P.2) By September 15th, she is obligated to inform whether she will continue for another two year hitch after 1997-98 season.(Schlosser 1997 p.10) It is uncertain that whether she will still keep hosting her show or not, though many women are hoping her to remain in the show and share her power and intelligence with them. Oprah’s effect on T.V is so great that since she started to appear on the show, many similar talk shows increased dramatically. And most of these talk show hosts are very popular just like Oprah. Though I believe no one among them can influence American women just like Oprah did.
1. Benezra, K. (1997). Products pitch talk hosts. Media week, pp. 6.
2. Dickerson, D (1997). A womans’s woman. U.S News & World Report. pp.10.
3. Hyde, W.S (1991). Television and Radio Announcing. Boston:Houghton Mifflin Company.
4. Schlosser, J (1997). Oprah watch. Broadcasting & Cable. pp. 10.
5. Stanley, T.L (1997). What they’ve got. Media week. pp. 34-35.