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Published: 5/26/2011

Winfrey's farewell

The topic of the first broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show on Sept. 8, 1986, was “marrying the right person.” One episode into its hugely successful 25-year run, the show had found its voice.

It was therapeutic, emotionally open, and curious. So was its host, an African-American entrepreneurial dynamo.

The show aired its last program in syndication yesterday. For Ms. Winfrey, a billionaire who made television, movies, and book publishing her domains of influence and transformation, it has been a remarkable run.

Her ascent to the top of daytime entertainment has been driven by her ability to anticipate her largely female audiences’ moods and desires. Though her program began as a conventional talk show featuring tabloid subjects such as suburban swingers and popular diets, Ms. Winfrey understood that she could achieve high ratings with more-enlightened fare than brawling Nazis and sex addicts.

In the 1990s, Ms. Winfrey refocused her show to embrace New Age philosophies and guests. She launched her book club, injecting the publishing industry with adrenaline and massive sales.

She introduced “Dr. Phil” and Mehmet Oz to the nation, spinning those talents into more daytime talk produced by her company. She became a TV executive with a golden touch.

Ms. Winfrey ended her show with lower ratings, although her numbers still set the industry standard. She is turning her attention to the Oprah Winfrey Network, to develop a new generation of programming on cable TV

Far from retiring, Ms. Winfrey is taking on new challenges. Although her fans will miss her familiar show, they eagerly await her next incarnation.



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