As we wind down 2009, I have a few words to say about Oprah.
Oprah Winfrey announced she would be leaving the small screen in September of 2011. Her twenty-five years as the Queen of Daytime TV has changed the face of media and celebrity. She showed us a thing or two about how to live and what to read; she has taken us to the doctor, and she has discussed our finances. She has shared fashion, weight-loss and make-up tips, and she has given us fabulous gifts.
Oprah has become everyone's girlfriend. She is the girl next door that you would like to know, that you would listen to. I was so happy when she broadcast her show on late nights because I could watch the show with regularity. I am better for watching some of her programs. I got a greater sense of giving and humanity. I have become healthier and more money-savvy. And I am appreciative of all of the tips across the board; I have even read a couple of the book recommendations, and bought some of the CDs and even seen a few of the movies.
Oprah has introduced us to a host of people from the weird to the wonderful; and she took us behind the scenes on movies sets and inside the homes of the movie stars. She has made everyday people rich by mentioning their names, products or businesses.
She has become America's angel as we have watched her -- up-close and personal -- live her incredible life; she has talked to us about friendship with Gayle and we have even heard about her love life with Mr. Stedman Graham and the love of her dogs.
The Oprah Winfrey story is one that we all must admire. Her story is logically impossible and has demonstrated the fullness of the positive spirit and possibilities.
We have watched her onscreen grow into glamor; we have watched her love as she has shared her problems. We have watched her become rich in more ways than one.
Oprah: The Business Model
Oprah is a phenomenon and someone may be anointed or appointed to fill her time slot, but there simply is no replacing Oprah Winfrey. Her business acumen and sense of timing in most of her endeavors has been exquisite. She knows who she is; she knows her power and what her medium can do. For the first time in her career, she endorsed a political candidate, Barack Obama and perhaps she helped propel him into the White House win. She even went on the campaign trail, taking a risk with her own career.
Oprah has done it right.
She turned her show into a marketing machine. Oprah's recommendation or appearance has meaning and makes money. The thousands of interviews will run as reruns for the next 25 years and she will make another fortune. She revolutionized TV and will probably go on to do some great things behind the scenes as she runs her very own network. She took the idea of a TV show host to another level and has made life better for many.
Her philanthropic deeds are legendary. I think one of her most significant accomplishments has been the building of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She will take another generation to another place and improve the quality of their lives forever. Oprah has been impactful and we will miss her. We have watched her live daily in front of the camera. We have watched her grow as we ourselves have grown. I'm glad I got a chance to watch the girl from Mississippi live an amazing story in public.
I wish she would have gotten more involved in Chicago life and I wish we could have seen her about town more. I wish she would have considered Chicago a major city and attended our events and become more involved in civic life. But you don't have time for everything and her choices have been excellent. Oprah has been a terrific Chicago citizen and if she moves we will feel her absence.
Thanks, Oprah, for making Chicago your home and for showing us some of the many levels of how to do it.
We will miss you.