1. Industry
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Oprah Winfrey Bio


A photo of Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is ending her syndicated talk show to concentrate on her new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Photo © Getty Images

Current Media Position:

In 2011, Oprah Winfrey wrapped up her nationally syndicated talk show which got its start in 1986. She will now focus her attention on her new cable channel, called the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which so far has struggled to find an audience.

Significance to the Media Industry:

It's impossible to overstate Oprah Winfrey's influence, not just on television, but on American life. There are plenty of young adults who can't remember a time when Winfrey's face wasn't on TV every day.

Winfrey's personal struggles with her weight helped her connect with millions of Americans. She was never afraid to laugh at an old photo of herself sporting a grossly-outdated hairstyle or outfit.

Winfrey's Book Club and her "Favorite Things" shows could launch a best seller overnight. Don't forget her endorsement of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama helped put him into the White House.

Oprah Winfrey's Early Career:

Winfrey's voice hit the airwaves before her face. She worked at a Nashville, Tennessee radio station while in high school. It wasn't long before she switched to TV.

She began anchoring the news at Nashville's WLAC (now WTVF) in 1973. She was a trailblazer in two ways -- not only was she just 19, she was also the first woman co-anchor in the city.

Winfrey moved to Baltimore's WJZ in 1976 to co-anchor the news and eventually take over the local show People Are Talking. She was 22.

Moving up to Chicago in 1984, Winfrey made AM Chicago on WLS number one almost immediately. That brought her own national show two years later.

Career Highlights:

The Oprah Winfrey Show rocketed to the top of the ratings in 1986, where it remained ever since. Her dominance in the afternoons never faced a serious challenge from any other talk show and boosted local news ratings for stations carrying her program.

Besides the stars, confessions and giveaways, Winfrey's program launched her business career. Her Harpo Productions has created movies and positioned her to take a risk by establishing OWN on what had been the Discovery Health Channel in 2011.

Her wealth is estimated to be more than $2 billion. Through her Angel Network, she has raised millions for charity.

Personal Information:

Oprah Winfrey was actually named Orpah when she was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1954. Eventually, those who knew her called her "Oprah."

She spent her childhood in Mississippi, and later Wisconsin and Tennessee. As a child, she lived in poverty, but managed to get an education and became Miss Black Tennessee.

Winfrey has had a long relationship with Stedman Graham. Her well-known best friend is Gayle King, who has had several roles at Winfrey's various media properties.

Her awards for personal achievement are countless. They span her work on television, film acting, philanthrophy and promotion of reading.

  1. About.com
  2. Industry
  3. Media
  4. Profiles of Media Pros
  5. Oprah Winfrey - Oprah Winfrey Bio

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.