NPR logo
New Hosts Jockey To Be The New Oprah
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
New Hosts Jockey To Be The New Oprah


New Hosts Jockey To Be The New Oprah

New Hosts Jockey To Be The New Oprah
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

There are several daytime talk shows starting up, featuring Katie Couric, Steve Harvey and Ricki Lake, among others. TV critic Eric Deggans says they are all still jockeying to be the next Oprah — but there probably won't be another Oprah.


Daytime TV kicks off a new season this week. In the lineup are some new talk shows featuring big names, including Katie Couric, Ricki Lake and comedian and radio host Steve Harvey. TV critic Eric Deggans says they are all chasing after the elusive holy grail of daytime television - the audience that Oprah Winfrey left behind.

ERIC DEGGANS: Remember when Katie Couric sat behind the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News?


KATIE COURIC: Recession fear caused the Dow to plunge...

DEGGANS: Or when she helped guide viewers through the greatest domestic terrorist attack in history on NBC's Today show?


COURIC: Apparently a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center here in New York City. It happened just...

DEGGANS: So why does Katie Couric sound like this now?


COURIC: Jessica Simpson on her body after baby, Jennifer Lopez on dating a younger man. "Fifty Shades of Gray" author E.L. James.

DEGGANS: You could say this is the wheelhouse Couric never should have abandoned. It's an hour of the light-hearted stuff she handled masterfully for 15 years as co-anchor on the Today show.


SHERYL CROW: (Singing) Are you ready for this day?

DEGGANS: Now she's back in daytime with a set that could've been cribbed from the pages of O magazine and a theme song written by Sheryl Crow.


CROW: (Singing) ...moving through a crowded street. You'll find your way.

DEGGANS: Her new program, "Katie," reaches for the talk show crown abdicated last year by Oprah Winfrey, queen of the industry for 25 years. Last year, stars like Anderson Cooper and Nate Berkus tried to fill that void. But Berkus' show was cancelled and Cooper's program has been seriously revamped for this new season. And Katie Couric's not the only one chasing this prize.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: It's the premiere of "The Ricki Lake Show."

DEGGANS: Lake hosted her own daytime show from the mid'90s to 2004. And now she's back.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Revealing conversations.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Being a mom is the hardest job in the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Being a working mom has actually, I think, made me a better mother.

DEGGANS: And her new show is aimed right at the Oprah demographic: middle-aged, middle class, often-white women. They made Winfrey a billionaire and a talk show legend. So it's no wonder Couric, Lake and even "Survivor" host Jeff Probst are wooing that same crowd. But I really don't think it's possible to create a new Oprah.

When Winfrey began building her empire, she had much less competition. Phil Donahue was the king of talk back then. Now, there's "The View," "The Talk," "The Chew," "Good Afternoon America" and a half dozen judge shows led by the new queen of daytime TV.


JUDGE JUDY SHEINDLIN: You are responsible for everything that happened. Do you get it?


SHEINDLIN: Um is not an answer.

DEGGANS: That's right. Judge Judy Sheindlin draws an average 8 million viewers each day. She's now the top-rated talker on daytime TV.

What was always most interesting about Oprah Winfrey's success in daytime, was that she seemed so unlike her fans. At the height of her success, she was an unmarried, childless billionaire of color who somehow knew what her middle aged, middle class white female audience wanted before they did.

You could say the same thing for hosts such as Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil McGraw, Dr. Mehmet Oz and newcomer Steve Harvey. Perhaps because they can see their audience from a distance, they know how to reach them a little better, which might be tough news for Katie Couric and Ricki Lake. Because it's possible those who are best at luring daytime TV's audience are stars standing on the outside looking in.


MONTAGNE: Eric Deggans is TV and Media critic for the Tampa Bay Times.


MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.