O Magazine To Evolve, Collaborate With Oprah Winfrey Network
MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.
As Oprah Winfrey wraps up 25 years on her top rated network television talk show, we're continuing our exploration of her career on television and in other platforms. In a moment we are going to speak with motivational speaker and author Iyanla Vanzant. She was once one of Oprah Winfrey's most popular contributors. And she recently returned to the show on this final season after a long break. And we'll find out what happened in the meantime.
But, first, we're continuing our conversation with Susan Casey, editor-in-chief of O, the Oprah Magazine, which has just celebrated its 11th anniversary in existence. It was one of the most successful magazine launches in history. Is it the magazine or is it the show that kind of creates a run-on thing? Like, for example, I'm thinking about Oprah's favorite things are known to sell out after appearing in the magazine or on the air. I'm thinking of UGG sequined boots.
SUSAN CASEY (EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, O MAGAZINE):Oh, everything we've put in the magazine. In fact, if it's a small business, we'll say to them, are you really ready for what's going to happen? Because there is this sense of trust that Oprah has really conveyed across media. And if something appears in the magazine, the readers assume that it has her mark of approval. That somehow these are all things that they believed she has vetted herself, even though she doesn't always anymore.
We hear from her if there is something that she doesn't feel is right. And I think at this point everybody who's working on the magazine has a very true and deep sense of what she would pick.
MARTIN: So you've been at the helm for two years. What was your mandate taking over? And what's your mission going forward?
CASEY: The real question was how do we make the next 10 years as dynamic as the first? And it's always an evolution. I mean, you need to stay current. Even though the mission has been very true from the beginning, it hasn't changed a lot. It starts to look different, as Oprah looks different, as the world looks different. It was always a magazine that I loved as a reader. It was very cerebral and thoughtful.
My predecessor, Amy Gross, was one of the editors I really admired in the business. She was a Buddhist. And I think a lot of the stories in the magazine reflected this very thoughtful, quiet center that she had. And I think the team that I have now, we're looking around the world and we're thinking, there is so much going on. We really want to be the filter for that. We want to capture a sense of excitement about everything that's possible as it goes forward.
So I think looking at the magazine now you might feel that it's a little more colorful, a little more narrative and possibly a little more action filled.
MARTIN: How do you think the magazine will change without the network television program as a kind of a fact of life, because there was some shared editorial content? For example, there would be extended interviews that Oprah might have on the air. But then an extended Q&A version would also appear in print or, say, a profile - someone might be profiled on the program as well as in the magazine. What changes now that that particular program no longer is on the air?
CASEY: Well, she will continue to do the interviews, which are called O Talks. And they will be in the pages of the magazine regularly. It's funny that we actually don't have a lot of overlap with the TV show. We obviously share DNA. But going forward, we're very excited about OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. There's a great potential for us to do lots of collaborative stuff with them. They're in the process right now of sort of creating themselves. And I think that we can really play a role along with, obviously Oprah when she - after she has one good long vacation - is going to come back and really spend some time with it. And we expect to be a part of that as well.
MARTIN: You're a writer yourself, an author and were also very involved in adventure coverage, wilderness reporting. How would you describe the genre of reporting that I think many people associate with you before you came to OWN?
CASEY: Well, I'm a narrative nonfiction author, but I also - I tend to focus on the ocean in my work. And we're very conscious right now - and you may see more of that in O because I obviously think it's very important for everybody to see more coverage of environmental issues in a really fun and narrative way.
I mean, when we had the oil spill last summer I went down there to go into it to see what it was about. And I wanted to see how O readers would react to that and it was very positive.
MARTIN: Susan Casey, before we let you go, tell us about the June issue.
CASEY: It's really a celebration of all kinds of arcana and highlights from all 25 years. There is a wonderful conversation between Oprah and Gayle just really talking about the beginning and the highlights for them. There is a look behind the absolutely extraordinary production that was "The Oprah Winfrey Show" taking an entire audience to Australia. There are special letters from Oprah, and in particular, let me just warn people, Oprah's - what I know for sure, do not read it without a Kleenex box next to you.
MARTIN: Susan Casey is the Editor-in-Chief of O, the Oprah magazine and she was kind enough to join us from NPR's New York Bureau. Susan Casey, thank you so much for joining us.
CASEY: Thank you.
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