It’s the end of an era. The Oprah Winfrey Show will end today after 25 years. In late 2009, the Queen of Daytime (that’s Oprah) announced that she would end her syndicated talk show in September 2011. However, the end date was moved up to May 25. Why? Speculation is that Oprah wants to devote more time to her new TV network, OWN, which has not been the instant success to which Oprah is accustomed.
But the big speculation in the industry is, Who will replace Oprah? That’s the wrong question. The question should be, Can anyone replace Oprah? And I think no.
Oprah has her fans and her detractors, but there is no way to argue with the fact that Oprah is a phenomenon who has built a super-robust brand while going from newscaster to syndicated talk-show host to media mogul and a major influence on America. Simply put, there is no other. And I doubt there will be anyone like her in the near future.
Obviously, anyone working in the talk genre is clamoring for Oprah’s time period that will soon be vacated. Theory is that Oprah’s slot will be split among “talkers” – Ellen and Dr. Oz appear to be the front-runners to grab the available time. Anderson Cooper’s new show is also in position to snatch a few of the markets. I doubt that any of these possess the Oprah pizzazz (or fan base or ratings) to achieve a “second coming of Oprah” effect.
A few more names to toss into the hat: Earlier this week, rumors were rife that Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira would enter the talk-show genre in 2012 after ending their current gigs. And Rosie O’Donnell will return to daytime talk on Oprah’s OWN. But these will be too late to the game to benefit from Oprah’s exit.
It’s really a mixed bag at the moment, and it will take time for the dust to settle, but there will be no “next Oprah.”
So, what do you think? Is there another Oprah out there?