It was Aesop, the ancient Greek sage who submitted: ‘True value is sometimes hidden.’
Many people quietly hold untapped potential waiting for the right opportunity to unleash that potential.
In the case of a 19-year-old, who became the first African American to anchor the news at Nashville’s WTVF-TV, everything could have easily gone downhill because of a demotion per Lowe Jane’s ‘Oprah Winfrey Speaks: Insights from the World’s Most Influential Voice’ book.
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Oprah Winfrey yet to become the global icon she is now, was exceptional at the TV station, moving three years later to the bigger Baltimore market to anchor the six o’clock news for WJZ-TV. Trouble, however, brewed when the producers concluded that her delivery was too emotional for hard news stories.
The Tennessee State University product was taken off the news and relegated to the ‘People Are Talking’ morning talk show to tactfully get rid of her. The move would have devastated most women; having to see their news casting career come to an abrupt end but not Winfrey, who later noted “the minute the first (morning) show was over, I thought, ‘Thank God, I’ve found what I was meant to do. It’s like breathing to me’.”
The new opportunity which was meant as a demotion proved to be the platform to help unlock Oprah’s potential.
‘People Are Talking’ was such a success it beat the other morning talk show, ‘Donahue’ in local markets. She won 100,000 more viewers than Donahue and had taken her show from last place to first in the ratings. Seven years later, Winfrey moved to Chicago to host another talk show, ‘AM Chicago’, on WLS-TV where it became the number one talk show in the city.
When the year concluded, the station decided to rename the program the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Oprah mused “sometimes you don’t choose your career. It chooses you.”
Oprah Gail Winfrey has not looked back since. She hosted ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ 1986 to 2011, airing it for 25 seasons. Then launched her own television network, OWN.
The American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer and philanthropist is the first black female billionaire worth US$2.7 billion as at 2019.
Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S. Her love partner is the educator Stedman Graham.