Oprah: ‘Chat’s all folks!

By Natalie Deacon & Joanna Park

After more than two decades on air, the curtain is set to fall on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show phenomenon.  Yes, loyal audience 2011 spells the end of this American institution, but what’s next for the billionaire powerhouse who has been dubbed ‘the most influential women in America?’

Tim Bennett, president of her production company Harpo wrote to advertisers on the syndicated show to say: “Tomorrow, Oprah will announce live on the show that she has decided to end what is arguably one of the most popular, influential and enduring programmes in television history.”

This announcement does not represent Oprah’s demise but the beginning of a new venture into her own cable channel, appropriately named OWN. 

Her empire already includes a radio show and the hugely popular ‘O’ magazine which has established her status as a media force to be reckoned with.

Oprah’s influence is evident in every corner of American society, with her endorsement authors become bestsellers overnight and products appearing in Oprah’s annual ‘Favourite Things’ list are guaranteed to appear in Christmas stockings all over America. 

But what attributes to her colossal success?

We asked the experts: Professor Jenny McKay, film and media lecturer at Stirling University said: “Oprah’s ability to remain relevant throughout her long career has guaranteed her success, with the show becoming more sophisticated and exploring spirituality which has been popular, particularly with her female audience. 

“She is also an astute businesswomen and her ability to adapt and shape cultural and political views in America shows the power this one woman holds in American society.”

Dael Nageh course director at The London School of Public Relations thinks that she knows the answer to Oprah’s public persona:

“She resounds with audiences globally. Even though she’s a billionaire celebrity she still remains relatable. She is the classic rags to riches story and the public responds to that.” 

The certainty is that whatever Oprah Winfrey’s secret ingredient is, its working and the end of her talk show only heralds the start of a new and all-encompassing media venture.

Oprah’s throne remains unrivalled and she will remain, in viewers memories, as the ‘queen of the talk show.’