Oprah To End Show In 2011

Oprah Winfrey is expected to announce Friday that her talk show will end in 2011. Winfrey's production company, Harpo Productions Inc., said she would provide more details on Friday's Oprah Winfrey Show.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Oprah Winfrey is ending her syndicated talk show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")

OPRAH WINFREY: This calls for a drum roll. Cue the drum roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUM ROLL)

WINFREY: All right, open your boxes. Open your boxes, come on. Two, three, you get a car. You get a car.

SIEGEL: After 25 seasons of giveaways, book clubs, tearful guests and celebrity showcases, her last broadcast will be in 2011. That same year is the planned launch of her new cable channel. There's no word if she is moving her talk show to her new channel. But Discovery, her partner in that deal has long expressed interested in that.

Joining us now to talk about this is media correspondent David Folkenflik. And David, first, how surprising is this?

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Well, this really does merit a drum roll. I mean, in recent years you've heard the occasional speculation and curiosity, inquisition, but it's hard to imagine daytime television without Oprah Winfrey. Think of the odyssey she's taken. I mean, she popped from local stints in Baltimore and Chicago and really created her, not only her talk show, but a sense of brand. You know, it's almost a combination these days of President Obama and the Pope in some ways.

But, you know, she reaches an audience that, you know, cuts across not necessarily gender, but cuts across race and income levels. She's an arbiter of many things and it all happens in that daytime hour.

SIEGEL: She's obviously very important to her audience. How important is she to the local stations that carry her show?

FOLKENFLIK: There's no better vehicle through which to deliver viewers to that sort of early evening 5 p.m. newscast that local stations can rely on than Oprah Winfrey. They look at her, she costs a lot of money to pay for her syndicated show and it's worth every penny because they can say, you know what? We're going to have something that leads in and they rely on that, they have for years. They feared her going away for years for just that reason.

SIEGEL: Now, tell us about her new cable venture with Discovery.

FOLKENFLIK: Well, it's called OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Obviously she's somebody who's figured out a way to be her own franchise. She's thought to own her own destiny. But nobody really knew what to make of this thing when, you know, the central force in her enterprise has been the talk show. Now that the talk show is going away from broadcast television, suddenly this could be a game changer for that channel on Discovery.

They're taking what had been, I believe, the Health Discovery Network and they're repurposing it for her. She had already offered them her Web site as something she was bringing to the table. Now I think they'd be very interested to know, could they launch a version of the Oprah Winfrey talk show. Now that she's taking the show off the air, off broadcast stations, it's very possible that she could offer it to them on that channel. And if not, she could be the central creative force turning her attention to that channel to build it up in the way that she did her own show.

SIEGEL: Twenty-five years in daytime talk is an eternity in that business. Daytime television has changed a lot during that time.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet it has. I mean, if you think about some of the key names in daytime talk from early in her career with Phil Donahue, Jerry Springer more recently, and most recently all people like Ellen DeGeneres, they've really all been influenced in some ways and all been reflected by the path and career set by Oprah Winfrey.

SIEGEL: Thank you, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's David Folkenflik on the news that Oprah Winfrey will end her talk show in 2011.

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