T Dog’s Think Tank: A tribute to Oprah Winfrey

After 25 years on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show – one of television’s most successful daytime programs – rides into the sunset. Her final show airs on September 9, 2011 as the world gathers around their sets to say so long to one of TV’s most successful shows. So in honor, The T Dog Media Blog honors and salutes Oprah Winfrey for her achievements in television and contributing a lot to the City of Chicago.

So, yours truly posted my loving tribute to the Queen of Talk on Marc Berman’s PI Feedback Forum, ran by Mediaweek Magazine. Here is most of what I said (to read the tribute, click and scroll down to the fourth post on the page):

“I remember back in 2005 when the founder of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing (John H. Johnson)- the publisher of African-American-targeted magazines Ebony and Jet, died and Oprah did not attend his funeral – which I thought was very disrespectful. The two magazines covered her a lot and this is the way she pays them back?

Not only that, IMHO, I feel Oprah has not done enough to help African-Americans like myself and other minorities to break into the television and media businesses. She has contributed very little to Chicago’s African-American community – to my knowledge, she has not done any interviews with the city’s four black radio stations, at least in the last decade or so. Every time I happen to stumble on to her show on TV, I hardly see a minority face in the studio audience. So it wasn’t surprising when her announcement was greeted with mostly yawns in the African-American community.

In addition, she hasn’t done much to contribute to the local television and radio community either. You think you had a hard time trying to get an interview with Oprah? So has Robert Feder, Maureen Ryan, Phil Rosenthal, Steve Johnson, the late Allan Johnson, and other local TV critics and reporters during her tenure here. One thing that irritated me was when she threw her big party on Michigan Ave. last September, she only did interviews with the syndicated tabloid shows, NOT the local media who have been covering her over the years. She talks all this bullshit about how much she loves Chicago and never really shows it.

I respect and appreciate all Oprah has done for the city I live in, but I wish she did a whole lot more – like acknowledge South Siders like me even existed. She’s done nothing for us.”

Well…. what did you expect? (After all, THIS IS The T Dog Media Blog.)

While yours truly has appreciated what Oprah Winfrey has done for Chicago’s image – and is especially proud of her becoming the first African-American female to successfully helm a talk show and an empire amassing millions,  I wished she spent more time in Chicago’s African-American community – not to mention helping more minorities break into the media business. It’s disappointing to say the least. When was the last time she appeared in the Bud Billiken parade? Or appeared on any black radio station in Chicago?

And on top of that, she has contributed little to the local media community here – whom she has fed off the backs of for years (and no, throwing a few crumbs at the Museum of Broadcast Communications doesn’t count.)  So it didn’t surprise me in the least when she did not attend Johnson Publishing Company founder John H. Johnson’s funeral, which was attended by dignitaries such as Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, Dick Gregory, Diahann Carroll, former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Richard Daley. Ms. Winfrey said she was vacationing in Hawaii, but word of his death never reached her. If she was more connected with the local media community here, she would have known sooner.

And don’t let Big Media fool you to thinking Ms. Winfrey has universal support in the African-American community – she doesn’t. I know many people who have told me personally that they don’t like her.

So when you hear and watch these tributes to Oprah Winfrey over the next year or so, think about what I said. Oprah is leaving, but to us in Chicago’s African-American community – and the local media community – it was like she was never here.