It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Oprah hung up her lavish car giveaways and her inspirational Maya Angelou poems and called it a day on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
But time hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm for the world’s most positive human, the woman who encouraged all of us to Live Your Best Life.
Now WBEZ Chicago (the same group responsible for This American Life) has launched a three-part podcast, Making Oprah, chronicling the making of the groundbreaking talk show. The best part? Oprah HERSELF is on it. And she’s still as excited today as she was the first time she stepped foot on a Chicago stage and bellowed “HELLLLLOOO!” to an enraptured audience.
Nothing about Oprah made sense on paper. As she herself explained to the TV exec who first suggested she syndicate her show nationally in 1986, “I’m black. And I’m overweight.”
The exec agreed, saying he was able to see that with his own eyes. But he knew that her chatty, conversational and confessional style would win over tough audiences, a prediction that turned out to be a reckless understatement. Within months, the poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks who shared details of her rocky love life and battle with her thighs, had overtaken the legendary and seemingly untouchable Phil Donahue as the most watched day time TV host - of all time.
As the pod points out, Oprah reached around 12 million people a day when the show was at its peak. By contrast the most popular talkshow host in 2016, Ellen Degeneres is lucky to hit 4 million.
You either love Oprah on face value, or you love her a bit ironically, for her ebullient enthusiasms, OTT touchy-feeliness and contrary consumerism. Either way - you can’t not love her and there’s a good reason this pod is being consumed with nearly the same fervour as the original show itself.