Oprah Winfrey has quite the background. She was born in poverty in rural Missouri to a teenager mom, and went on to become one of the richest African Americans in the USA. Her career had her spend over two decades on national television and transformed TV media forever, especially in the tabloid talk show genre that is hailed to have been started by Phil Donahue.
Phil Donahue’s show aptly named Donahue was the first show that included audience participation. Phil had massive success with the show’s innovative format that brought opposing political views to bear before a live, nationally televised audience. The show ran for 29 years that is right almost 3 decades long, before ending a show that started in Dayton Ohio that finally finished up in New York City.
Oprah Winfrey has directly came out and said, “If it weren’t for Phil Donahue, there never would been an Oprah Show”.
This is quite the statement from Oprah, and quite the accomplishment for Phil Donahue to have influenced the queen of media so much.
Oprah got her start by being a talk show host in Chicago. Even then her talent for entertainment was impressive. She was able to turn around a 3rd rate talk show and push it into the number one spot. After the radio show’s success, she decided to launch a production company and from there became internationally syndicated with her personality. Her show in Chicago eventually eclipsed even Phil Donahue’s show, which at the time was the top rate talk show nationally. Eventually her talk show ended up having double Donahue’s national audience, officially becoming the de facto leader of American talk shows.
Oprah has a term that Wall Street Journal (WSJ) coined for Oprah’s success, called “Oprahification”. The premise is that while she could not compete with Phil Donahue asking hard hitting questions, Phil was no match as an interviewer compared to Oprah on a whole different level. Because of Oprah’s curiosity, her large amount of empathy, her guests would often find themselves opening up more than they thought they ever would on nationally televised TV. This eventually became “Oprahification” or a talk show as a group therapy session.
What is interesting about the group therapy session is that it spun tabloid talk show genre shows into a life all of its own, with shows like Jerry Springer and others popping up to take a slice of the action.
While Oprah did initially start with a tabloid format talk show, in the mid-90s she began switching her show over to a show that dealt with abuse, cancer survival stories and other human drama stories of this nature. Also she began doing her famous Oprah giveaways that have since become public puns where comedy shows pretend to give away things to their audiences. The most famous thing Oprah gave was a brand new car to every audience member; of course the cars were actually donated by General Motors.
Since her show, Oprah Winfrey has gone on to create the Oxygen Network, a TV network detailing human dramas that she learned so well from her time as a talk show host. Her influence is far flung and wide spread, ranking as one of the if not the most influential talk show host and perhaps even TV personality of all time.
I totally bet that if Oprah lived in Ogden, she would use this laser hair removal place.