As both the first African American woman and the youngest, Oprah Winfrey anchored the news at WTFV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 19 after starting in radio at WVOL when she was only 17. Advancing quickly up the broadcasting ladder, she went on to begin hosting talk shows in the 70’s.
The Groundbreaking Oprah Winfrey Show
In 1984, Winfrey moved to Chicago to host the popular morning show AM Chicago, a long way from the small Mississippi town where she was born 30 years before. After only 1 month, her show beat the well-established Donahue show in the ratings and became Chicago’s number 1 local talk show. The next year, her highly successful show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and just another year later; it went on to be nationally syndicated. The show eventually became the highest rated talk show in television history, is broadcast in 111 countries and has won dozens of Emmy Awards for outstanding television broadcasting.
Striking Out on her Own as a Successful Entrepreneur
Oprah Winfrey was not content to work for someone else and desired to have total artistic control over her television show; therefore in 1988, she started her own production company. Harpo Studios is so named because it is Oprah spelled backwards. The company has grown to become Harpo, Inc. and employs several hundred people in television and film production, magazine publishing and online media. In addition, her Oxygen Network on cable television reaches over 50 million viewers. The network is owned by Oxygen Media which Winfrey co-founded with 4 other television veterans.
Cutting Edge Films and Motion Pictures
Always looking for the next great project, Winfrey turned in a spectacular performance as the character “Sofia” in Stephen Spielberg’s sensational film The Color Purple for which she was honored with both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. In 1990, Winfrey started Harpo Films for the purpose of working on projects based on classic and contemporary works of literature. She also has a long-term deal with ABC television to produce a series of telefilms as part of her program “Oprah Winfrey Presents”.
The O Magazine for Contemporary Women
At the turn of the new millennium, Winfrey partnered with Hearst Magazines to launch her own publication known as O, the Oprah Magazine. A monthly magazine targeting today’s modern women, the publication features articles on contemporary lifestyles, fashion and careers. O Magazine enjoys a circulation of over 2 million monthly readers and is recognized as one of the most successful start-up magazines in the industry. In 2004, ever the entrepreneur searching for another business in which to dive headlong, Winfrey started O at Home, a seasonal home design magazine.
Oprah Winfrey continues to find new and innovative ways to educate and entertain her fans. Her website, Oprah.com, averages 45 million page views each month making it one of the most successful lifestyle websites on the internet today. Her website is also the home of Oprah’s Book Club, which is now the largest book club in the world with over 500,000 members. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in history, the world waits excitedly for Winfrey’s next great idea.