Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul-juggernaut, is going to end her successful daytime talk show when her 25th season ends on September 9, 2011. She will be making the announcement on her program today. As for her future, the NY Times says she's expected to "concentrate on the forthcoming cable channel that will bear her name... The move represents an enormous bet — that her popularity and golden touch with programming can sustain an entire cable channel and that she’ll remain a central cultural figure even without the mass exposure of broadcast television every day."
When the show's staffers were told the news in a meeting yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports many were crying. Harpo, Inc. President Tim Bennett sent a letter to stations, "We want to thank you for the partnership and friendship we have shared over the years. Your invaluable support has helped us to create the phenomenon of the 'Oprah Show' that we've all been so proud to be a part of for the last 24 years. My staff and I will be calling all of you directly tonight and tomorrow. We look forward to speaking with you."
Variety writes, "Winfrey's departure will make for an unprecedented shift in syndicated daytime TV in a manner similar to what happened in morning radio after Howard Stern split for satellite radio," and gives various scenarios in which broadcast TV stations would try to replace her to fight for her audience (would ABC make a play for Ellen DeGeneres' show, which has deals with NBC stations?). The Oprah Show's ratings provided big lead-ins for many ABC stations' evening broadcasts.
The Post's Linda Stasi, who admits she hasn't always agreed with Oprah, declares "giving up her daily platform is probably the bravest thing Oprah's ever done... This woman was once a 14-year-old pregnant girl whose child died within hours of being born. And yet, she rose through sheer will to become the richest and most influential woman on TV, and maybe the entire world."