Making Oprah The inside story of a TV revolution. In this new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives, and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show's scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance, and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.
Making Oprah

Making Oprah

From WBEZ

The inside story of a TV revolution. In this new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives, and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show's scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance, and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.More from Making Oprah »

Most Recent Episodes

BONUS: Making Donahue

In our final bonus installment, the Making Oprah production team revisits an extended interview with daytime talk show legend Phil Donahue. His pioneering show, Donahue, aired from 1967 to 1996 and laid the groundwork for Oprah's program. It tackled heady, controversial issues - and landed frothy exclusives with A-list celebrities. Donahue also used his studio audience and callers in ways that were both innovative and intimate. Join host Jenn White, producer Colin McNulty, and executive producer Joel Meyer as they listen back to one of their favorite non-Oprah interview from the dozens of interviews conducted for Making Oprah.

BONUS: Oprah Gets Political

For more than 10 years after the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah deliberately avoided having politicians on her show, particularly during election seasons. In this bonus episode of Making Oprah, host Jenn White talks to Oprah about the role politics played - and didn't play - in the history of the Oprah Winfrey show.

BONUS: Let's Talk About Oprah's Hair

If you look at any image from the Oprah Winfrey Show, you can pretty much figure out what decade it's from by looking at Oprah's hairstyle. In this short bonus episode, host Jenn White talks to Oprah's longtime stylist Andre Walker about the high stakes of doing the hair of the most watched woman on television.

Ep 3: YOU GET A CAR!

In the show's final decade, Oprah and her team staged massive spectacles of increasing grandiosity, from the infamous car giveaway to a 21,000-person flash mob that shut down part of Chicago. "It had become increasingly more difficult to top what you'd done the year before," Oprah told WBEZ's Jenn White. "I mean, to the point where we literally sat in a room saying 'What about outer space?' " That's what we look at now: Oprah living her life at the top, pushing the boundaries of what could be done with the world's most powerful talk show, and why it all had to end after 25 years.

Ep 2: Skinheads And Scented Candles

In the second episode of Making Oprah, we explore how The Oprah Winfrey Show elevated itself out of the heap of trash TV and into a show that intentionally embraced spirituality and positivity. The early years of Oprah's show often relied on sensational, tabloidy topics – cheating husbands, sexy clothes, and murderers. It was not yet the 'Live Your Best Life' Oprah we would come to know and love. "It was during those shows where I just thought, 'What are we doing?' " Oprah tells WBEZ's Jenn White. "This is a platform that is speaking to people, and what are we saying?" As the Oprah Winfrey Show reached maturity — or at least, its college years — the program conducted the on-air experiments that would allow this talk show to become something more than a talk show

Preview WBEZ's New Podcast About The Oprah Winfrey Show

Making Oprah: The Inside Story of a TV Revolution is a public radio podcast — about a daytime talk show. This fall marks 30 years since the national debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Be the first to hear a sneak peek of WBEZ's three-part series featuring interviews with Winfrey, her onetime ratings rival Phil Donahue, former producers and staffers, and TV executives.

Preview WBEZ's New Podcast About The Oprah Winfrey Show

Ep 1: No Strategy, No Plan, No Formula

It was 30 years ago this fall that Oprah Winfrey first said "hellooooo" to a national audience. By the show's finale in 2011, it was aired in 145 countries and watched by more than 40 million viewers a week in the U.S. alone. Today's daytime hosts like Ellen and Dr. Oz? They now average only about a tenth of that. If Oprah mentioned a book title, it became a best-seller. She landed the interviews that no one else could get. Her message of spirituality and empowerment influenced millions. With an hourlong daytime TV show, Oprah built a powerful brand. She made billions. And, as CNN, USA Today, Forbes and Time Magazine all proclaimed, she became the most powerful woman in America. In the first of a three-part podcast series, Oprah and former producers talk with WBEZ's Jenn White about the early, scrappy days of the program. Phil Donahue reflects on Oprah's entry into the daytime talk landscape that he once dominated. Plus, the podcast revisits milestones from the 1980s, like the show's national debut, and some mixed feelings over the show's highest-rated episode ever.

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