Rank #1: Obama 1: The Man In The Background
Before he was the 44th President, Barack Obama worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. Hear how the city shaped his political ambitions.
Rank #2: Oprah 1: No Strategy, No Plan, No Formula
It was 30 years ago this fall that Oprah Winfrey first said “hellooooo” to a national audience. By the show’s finale in 2011, it was aired in 145 countries and watched by more than 40 million viewers a week in the U.S. alone. Today’s daytime hosts like Ellen and Dr. Oz? They now average only about a tenth of that.
If Oprah mentioned a book title, it became a best-seller. She landed the interviews that no one else could get. Her message of spirituality and empowerment influenced millions.
With an hourlong daytime TV show, Oprah built a powerful brand. She made billions. And, as CNN, USA Today, Forbes and Time Magazine all proclaimed, she became the most powerful woman in America.
In the first of a three-part podcast series, Oprah and former producers talk with WBEZ's Jenn White about the early, scrappy days of the program. Phil Donahue reflects on Oprah's entry into the daytime talk landscape that he once dominated. Plus, the podcast revisits milestones from the 1980s, like the show's national debut, and some mixed feelings over the show's highest-rated episode ever.
Rank #3: Oprah 2: Skinheads And Scented Candles
In the second episode of Making Oprah, we explore how The Oprah Winfrey Show elevated itself out of the heap of trash TV and into a show that intentionally embraced spirituality and positivity.
The early years of Oprah’s show often relied on sensational, tabloidy topics – cheating husbands, sexy clothes, and murderers. It was not yet the ‘Live Your Best Life’ Oprah we would come to know and love.
“It was during those shows where I just thought, ‘What are we doing?’ ” Oprah tells WBEZ’s Jenn White. “This is a platform that is speaking to people, and what are we saying?”
As the Oprah Winfrey Show reached maturity -- or at least, its college years -- the program conducted the on-air experiments that would allow this talk show to become something more than a talk show
Rank #4: Obama 2: Chicago Politics Ain’t Beanbag
When Barack Obama first came to Chicago, a political transformation was happening in the city. Hear how that change inspired him.
Rank #5: Obama 3: You Don’t Say No To Barack
Rank #6: Oprah 3: YOU GET A CAR!
In the show’s final decade, Oprah and her team staged massive spectacles of increasing grandiosity, from the infamous car giveaway to a 21,000-person flash mob that shut down part of Chicago.
“It had become increasingly more difficult to top what you’d done the year before,” Oprah told WBEZ’s Jenn White. “I mean, to the point where we literally sat in a room saying ‘What about outer space?’ ”
That’s what we look at now: Oprah living her life at the top, pushing the boundaries of what could be done with the world’s most powerful talk show, and why it all had to end after 25 years.
Rank #7: Obama 4: Wait Your Turn
In 2000, Barack Obama ran for Congress against a Chicago political legend. It became a contest about race and identity.
Rank #8: Obama 5: Up Or Out
Former president Barack Obama has only lost one election in his life. It was in 2000, and that defeat set him on the course for his eventual U.S. Senate run. Making Obama is a production of listener-supported WBEZ Chicago. Support WBEZ and the future of podcasts like this at https://wbez.org/making
Rank #9: Obama 6: Yes We Can!
Rank #10: Oprah: Preview of Making Oprah
Making Oprah: The Inside Story of a TV Revolution is a public radio podcast -- about a daytime talk show. This fall marks 30 years since the national debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Be the first to hear a sneak peek of WBEZ’s three-part series featuring interviews with Winfrey, her onetime ratings rival Phil Donahue, former producers and staffers, and TV executives.