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A Day Of One's OWN: One Man Watches Oprah's Network

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A Day Of One's OWN: One Man Watches Oprah's Network


A Day Of One's OWN: One Man Watches Oprah's Network

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Oprah Winfrey has admitted she could do a better job with her new cable network called OWN. It's had disappointing ratings since it started in January. Now that her daily talk show is over, Winfrey says she's going to focus her attention on making OWN successful. Television critic Eric Deggans wanted to figure out why OWN is struggling, so he spent a day watching the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Mr. ERIC DEGGANS (TV critic, St. Petersburg Times): This may be the most harrowing assignment I have ever tackled for NPR.

Ms. OPRAH WINFREY (TV personality): Hello everybody. Thank you for welcoming me and OWN into your home.

Mr. DEGGANS: Now, I consider myself a confident guy, but its a little scary: entering a world where my concerns are among the least considered in the universe.�

Unidentified Woman: We're all talking offensive Speedos. We've all seen that guy on the beach.

Mr. DEGGANS: At 8 A.M., I turned on OWN expecting to plunge into living my best life. Instead, I got an old Dr. Phil episode.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Dr. Phil")

Dr. PHIL MCGRAW (Psychologist): Tell your story, how do you feel about being here today.

Mr. DEGGANS: Then a rerun of "What Not to Wear."�

(Soundbite of TV show, "What Not to Wear")

Unidentified Man: The mom jean, which is if you don't know, a high rise, light washed, tapered leg jean that makes your butt look like a football field.

Mr. DEGGANS: Turns out, the queen of all medias channel doesnt really get started with new content until 10 A.M. strike one in this game. But when 10 rolls around...

Ms. WINFREY: Here she is, Gayle King.

(Soundbite of music)

Group: (Singing) G-A-Y-L-E...

Mr. DEGGANS: Best friend Gayle Kings live talk show is introduced by the queen herself, maybe because shes always been the next best thing to Oprah, anyway.

Her show is simulcast on Sirius XM satellite radio. But in trying to straddle two mediums, King masters neither - too laid back for morning television and too visual for radio. And Kings gushing interview with celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito made this male intruder feel even more uncomfortable.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Gayle King Show")

Mr. ROCCO DISPIRITO (Chef): How many things do men do that are maternal and generous and are meant to take care of other people? There are a few things, right?

Ms. GAYLE KING (TV personality): Yeah.

Mr. DISPIRITO: But when you cook for someone you're being sensitive.

Ms. KING: That's what it is.

Mr. DISPIRITO: You're doing what moms do.

Ms. KING: I love it. Yeah.

Mr. DISPIRITO: That's really attractive.

Mr. DEGGANS: No, Rocco. Guys cook because they want to eat.�

(Soundbite of music)

Heres where I realized some of the channels most compelling daytime programming was commercials for their big showcase series.�

(Soundbite of TV show, "Finding Sarah")

Ms. SARAH FERGUSON (Former duchess of York): Dear diary, what on earth have I done with my life?

Mr. DEGGANS: "Finding Sarah" features former Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson striving to recover from divorce and worldwide personal scandal.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Finding Sarah")

Ms. FERGUSON: We appear to be not broken, but we're broken. And I am broken.

Mr. DEGGANS: OK. To a guy, it sounds like a bad Dateline NBC episode. But I got a certain catty thrill watching a woman who was the Kate Middleton of her day suffer through scream therapy with a Native American shaman and counseling sessions with Dr. Phil.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Finding Sarah")

Ms. FERGUSON: I've got to this. Otherwise I will die.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DEGGANS: My own favorite OWN show is "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes." This is where cameras go backstage during Winfreys final season on broadcast TV, exposing the hosts boundless ego and relentless perfectionism.�

Heres a conversation OK, a teeny bit of an argument between Winfrey and King on what to wear in their final appearance together.��

(Soundbite of TV show, "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes)

Ms. WINFREY: Gayle, it's the Oprah Winfrey show. I can wear whatever I want.

Ms. KING: Yeah, I think it's better that either we both should've worn jeans. I think we should be kind - I'm serious that we should look kind of similar.

Mr. DEGGANS: After my day soaking up the OWN spirit, this much is clear: the channel needs more Oprah and more distinctive programming.�But even handicapped by my Y chromosome, I see how OWN can work by sticking to Winfreys celebrity-gilded, self-empowerment brand.

Wonder when that channel will start?

INSKEEP: Eric Deggans is the TV and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times.

It's NPR News.

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