Monday, November 23, 2009

Oprah Packs It In

Oprah Winfrey will end her syndicated broadcast talk show in September 2011. 9/11. Funny how some dates forever are associated with significant events.

Oprah’s decision to abdicate network television in favor of cable for her own channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, will have financial repercussions throughout the media industry, including for Oprah herself. At this time there are no plans to shift the Oprah Winfrey Show, network television’s top-rated talk show, onto her cable network. No matter how it affects others, I’m betting on Oprah to come out on top. To be sure, she’s had setbacks. Everyone does, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and anyone else who takes risks. As the first Afro-American billionaire, she’s proven she’s a savvy businessperson.

Though her gabfest has aired for 23 years, Oprah’s one hour presence on my TV screen through the years can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Oh sure, I’ve seen clips of some of her famous interviews rebroadcast on TV news reports and YouTube, but I’ve sat through an entire show less than a handful of times. I do recognize that she has entertained, informed and influenced our society for nearly a quarter of a century by advancing our national dialogue on a wide range of issues. I’m not trying to be elitist or snobbish with my diffidence toward her show. It’s just that her show is not really my cup of tea.

For that matter, I’m not a Judge Judy or an Ellen or a Jerry Springer type of guy, either. Nor do I like to listen to Entertainment Tonight or the Insider, especially lately now that they’ve stopped pure “reporting” and gone into a more confrontational format of bickering panelists. Is anyone out there listening to the volume of distaste and diatribe our society is spewing out there every day, be it from The View or from Fox “News” Network or CNBC?

We have totally abandoned civility. How can individual acts of kindness compete with terabytes of tantrums?

I am aware of no instance where Oprah Winfrey degraded a guest. Yes, she took some to task, like the author whose book she touted who turned out to be a fake. But her reputation as a cultural icon stemmed from her treatment of others with respect. By others I mean not only her guests in the studio and on stage, but also the seven million guests who tuned in almost daily to be enlightened and uplifted.

September 9, 2011, will be her last network broadcast. I might tune in that day.