According to Forbes, she is worth $2.8 billion.
That's a lot of net worth.
And how did she get there?
She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi to an unmarried teenage mother. Her early life was one of deprivation and hardship. She didn't get any breaks. She became pregnant at age 14, but her son died. She was sent to live with her biological father, Vernon, in Nashville, Tennessee, where she completed high school. She secured a scholarship to Tennessee State University and, worked in the supermarket and took a part-time job at the local radio station.
So far, impressive, but not remarkable; and if not all that different from any else's start in life, different only in that is was a lot harder than most people experience.
Oprah found her niche in television.
She started in local news in Nashville, then moved to Chicago and got her big break when she was asked to take over WLS-TV's low rated morning talk show, AM Chicago. The rest, as they say in People magazine or U.S., is history.
What did Oprah have that allowed her to climb to such astonishing success?
Well, she had an engaging personality, that's for sure. But I know a lot of people with engaging personalities.
What Oprah really had that almost no one else had, was a TV show.
In 1984, when she took over AM Chicago, TV shows were hard to come by. There just weren't that many of them. And if there is one vehicle to instant stardom in America, it is TV.
Let us consider Kim Kardashian.
Almost by definition.
Net worth? $40 million.
And for doing what, exactly?
I have no idea.
But there it is.
If she had Oprah's personality, it would probably be more, but I think most of us would settle for $40 million. Or $4 million, probably.
And what does Kim Kardashian have that you don't have?
Like Oprah, a TV show. (Oprah now has a whole network).
And why don't you have a TV show?
Because... you haven't been able to convince a network executive that you should have one?
Have you even tried?
So the real reason is that you have not even tried to convince a network executive that you should have your own TV show.
And why not?
Because it did not occur to you? Because you thought it was impossible?
Well... not anymore.
You too can have your own TV talk show... just like Oprah; or your own reality TV show, just like The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
And you don't even need to convince a network executive that they should give it to you. In fact, it is yours for the taking.
Yesterday, YouTube announced that they were getting one billion hits a month.
This is just and astonishing number.
One billion hits a month.
And the Oprah Winfrey Network?
315,000 viewers in prime time. Prime time!
And what does it cost to produce The Oprah Winfrey Show?
$314 million, so far, and still counting, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.
That's a lot.
That's a lot to garner just 315,000 viewers.
It would be cheaper to pay each viewer $1,000 just to watch the commercials on a DVD.
But back to YouTube.
Simon Cowell, no dope, has recently launched his new YouTube Talent Hunt. Says Cowell:
"[YouTube] is the biggest TV channel now in the world," Cowell said. "It's changed everything. It has literally changed the music business -- for the good.
And not just the music business.
YouTube, or more properly, the ability of the Internet to deliver broadcast quality video to two billion homes for free without a network deal or a cable deal pretty much changes everything.
So back to Oprah and the question, 'What has Oprah got that you don't got?'
The answer would be, her own TV network.
But now you know you don't need one.
And you don't need $315 million either.
What do you need?
Well, a camera.
A living room.
And YouTube... or something like that.
And that, pretty much, is that.
Look, television is driven by personalities.
That's all it is.
So stop thinking of YouTube as a place for cats in trees or children biting other children's fingers.
It's the People's Network.
And it's free.
So turn on your camera, invite over your sister in law whose husband abandoned her and crank up the show.
I am sure it will be as good as The Kardashians.
And a lot cheaper to make.
Follow Michael Rosenblum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Rosenblumtv