As the countdown to the last Oprah show continues, with her very last original show airing tomorrow, many are asking "What next?" I'm not sure that anyone thought that she would simply hang up her microphone and sail off in the sunset, although if that's what she decided to do, she would have earned the down time. Where does one go after paving the road for African-Americans, being a leader among woman, launching and sustaining an award-winning show, initiating a bill which also bares your name (the "Oprah Bill" was signed into law, launching a database for registered child abusers), starting a production company, radio station channel and magazine; winning multiple achievement awards, lifetime awards, more than 45 Emmy's (before removing the show from the running in 2000) and literally changing the lives of hundreds upon thousands of people?
If you're Oprah Winfrey, you keep on going...
The last show is a complete surprise to the viewers. Everyone on the Harpo staff has been tight-lipped, down to the question of whether the show will be taped or air live. A 30-second commercial spot will cost advertisers $1 million.
The Certainties, the projects which will continue:
OWN: In 2008, Harpo and Discovery Network announced plans to create OWN, which stands for the Oprah Winfrey Network. January 1, 2011, the network was launched and brought into the homes to 80 million viewers. the network runs the last season of the Oprah show and select specials, including a Behind the Scenes look at the Oprah show.
O, the Oprah Magazine: Launched in 2000 with Hearst Magazines, O has been credited as the most successful magazine launch in history.
Oprah & Friends: A radio show on XM Satellite Oprah & Friends, first aired in 2006 and three years later, an Oprah channel was launched, bringing episodes to listeners around the clock.
The Uncertainties, the answers which will come in time:
- Run for office or enter the presidential race?
- Spend more time working with charitable endeavors?
- Write her own book?
While I admire all that Oprah has achieved in her lifetime, what I most connect with is her ability and desire to always stay the course, staying true to herself and to her mission of timely, touching and truthful topics. In the 90's the Oprah Show saw a decline in their ratings in the shadow of Ricky Lake and Jerry Springer, two shows that had rising ratings as they brought in risqué guests and showcased tabloid topics. But Oprah stayed true to her mission, reporting on "clean-cut" topics and maintaining dignity. And it paid off as the ratings once again climbed and eventually surpassed every show on daytime TV.
The lesson? Stay YOUR course.
On yesterday's show, Dakota Fanning called Oprah's voice "the soundtrack of our lives" as she paraded out onto the stage with other girls her age, all of whom Oprah had touched in one way or another, in effect changing their lives. Tom Hanks said at the beginning of the show, “Twenty-five years have come and gone so fast.” Twenty-five years the likes of which will never come again, at least in my lifetime.