When the final episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” airs in syndication this week, it will mark the end of an era in daytime television. No TV personality has had such a profound impact as Winfrey over the past few years.
Several daytime TV talk show hosts owe their own successes to exposure first offered to them on Winfrey’s show. Many authors will also be indebted to the role Oprah played in turning their works into bestsellers with her book club selections. And Winfrey spotlighted a number of important charitable causes through her philanthropic efforts on the show.
Here is a look back at some numbers that represent Winfrey’s impact on the TV and cultural landscape —
Jan. 2, 1984: Oprah Winfrey debuted as host of “AM Chicago,” a morning talk show produced by WLS-TV. It is the third rated talk show when Winfrey is hired in 1983 to take over hosting duties. Within just a few months, it jumped to first place in the ratings.
Sept. 8, 1986: WLS TV relaunched “AM Chicago” under the name “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and syndicated it nationally through King World Productions.
25: The number of years Winfrey’s talk show stayed on the air. Winfrey quickly laid claim to hosting the no. 1 talk show after knocking Phil Donahue from the top spot within a short time.
40 million: Average number of Americans who tuned in to view Winfrey’s show each week. 212 TV stations in the United States carry Winfrey’s show each week.
150: At the conclusion of the show’s 25-year run, it was broadcast in 150 countries worldwide.
28,000: Since 1986, Winfrey has had 28,000 guests on her show.
62 million: A 90-minute interview between Winfrey and pop icon Michael Jackson aired in February 1993 drew 62 million viewers. It was the highest-rated non-Super Bowl prime time telecast aired up to that point in time.
283: Winfrey gave away approximately 283 different items to members of her studio audience during annual installments of her favorite things episodes. Giveaways occurred in other episodes too. During the 2004 season premiere, for example, every member of the studio audience received a new car.
365: The maximum number of people who could fit in the studio audience for a taping of Winfrey’s show. In some cases, special groups of people filled out the studio audience in connection with a cause or issue Oprah focused on for that particular episode.
70: Books selected by Winfrey for her book club. The selections had an immediate effect of boosting sales for the author and driving the book to the top of many bestseller lists. It is estimated that these 70 selections combined to sell 55 million copies after Winfrey selected them.
$51 million: Winfrey has raised more than $51 million for charitable causes through her show. Notable causes include relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina and providing education for impoverished girls in South Africa.
5: The number of former or current U.S. presidents who have been interviewed on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” during its run. Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all appeared on the show after leaving the Oval Office. Barack Obama became the first sitting president to appear on the show when he was a guest in May 2011.
4: Winfrey’s influence on daytime television is evidenced by the number of shows spun off of her own. Dr. Phil McGraw, Rachael Ray, Nate Berkus and Dr. Mehmet Oz all got their starts for their current talk shows by making regular appearances with Winfrey on her program.
“Oprah Winfrey, by the Numbers,” Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2011.
“Oprah Winfrey Biography (1954 -),” Biography.com.
Bob Minzesheimer: “How the Oprah Effect changed publishing,” USA Today, May 22, 2011.