The Oprah Winfrey show began as a local Chicago morning program, siphoning viewers from the audience of the once dominant Phil Donahue Show; it would become exponentially larger than Donahue, Sally Jessy and a litany of others combined. Currently, Oprah’s show airs in 145 countries, and commands a weekly average of 42 million US viewers.
In perhaps the most memorable show, Ms. Winfrey stunned viewers and her audience alike by gifting 300 studio audience members with a brand-new Pontiac G-Six, which carried a sticker price of $28,500 and cost the talk show host $7 million. "You get a car! You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!" Oprah shouted as her studio audience opened gift boxes containg car keys given to them before the show.
The show transformed from quasi-ambush interviews to current event topics, big celebrity interviews, personal stories and Oprah’s own struggles with weight loss. Eventually, the show became a New York Times best-seller launcher vis-à-vis Oprah's Book Club. Perhaps the most infamous came in the fall of 2005 when author James Frey’s "A Million Little Pieces" exploded in sales after appearing on Winfrey’s show. Shortly after, it was discovered key elements of the addiction and recovery memoirs were a fabricated tale and Ms. Winfrey later vituperated Frey on a later show. The revelations of the book caused Frey’s literary agent to drop him.
Ms. Winfrey has had a stellar career and has announced plans to begin her own cable network, perhaps one that will air her own show. Oprah has long been philanthropic and has built girl's schools in South Africa as well as establishing her own charity in 1998, Oprah's Angel Network.
Ms. Winfrey has proved herself to be a capable, astute business woman and media mogul, may she have the best of luck in her future endeavors.