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Columbus says goodbye to Oprah

After 25 years on air and about 4,560 episodes, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is coming to an end.

Fans, celebrities, previous show guests and friends and family of Oprah Winfrey filled Chicago’s United Center Tuesday for the taping of the “The Oprah Winfrey Show” finale which will air today.

Celebrities and viewers paid tribute to Oprah during the two-part event, “Surprise, Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular,” last Monday and Tuesday.

Some of Winfrey’s most notable guests for the episodes included Tom Hanks, Diane Sawyer, Tom Cruise, Madonna, Halle Berry and one of Winfrey’s all-time favorite guests, Jacqui Saburido.

Saburido was a young woman from Venezuela who traveled to Texas in 1999 to study English and survived being hit by a drunk driver. In an online farewell video, Winfrey said Saburido’s story encompassed everything her show has stood for the past 25 years.

Frank Willson, director of operations at 10TV, said Winfrey has provided great programming for years.

“We’re sad to see her go, but we’re enthused with the show we’ll be putting in its place,” he said.

Beginning on Sept. 12, the medical talk show “The Dr. Oz Show” will be taking the 4 p.m. daily time slot on 10TV.

Stephen Coan, a second-year in economics, said he thinks it would be interesting to see how the audience changes as Winfrey’s show is replaced.

“He’s (Dr. Oz) a medical guy,” Coan said. “It’ll be interesting to see how much that would drop off. It’s more specific than what Oprah did.”

Winfrey’s youngest former guests and viewers paid tribute to her impact on their lives.

Members of the U.S. military also filmed messages of thanks. Women from around the world sent in videos sharing what Winfrey’s work meant to them, and fans were encouraged to sign “Oprah’s Farewell Season Guest Book” on her website.

Musicians such as Josh Groban, Beyonce and Rascal Flatts made special performances. Celebrity guests shared stories and personal tales of their times with Winfrey.

The loss of Oprah might have some impact on ratings for the WBNS station, Willson said.

“Change is difficult,” Willson said. “Whenever there is a change in the market, it takes a long time for a viewer to follow that change. We are going to use every property in our company to make sure that we can promote the fact that ‘Dr. Oz’ is moving over to Channel 10.”

While a loss of ratings could result in loss of revenue, Willson said it was impossible to predict if they would lose money at this point.

Ann Fisher, host and executive producer of “All Sides with Ann Fisher” on WOSU 89.7 FM, said she never had a chance to watch the show but she thinks ratings will definitely go down.

“I don’t think anyone can replace her,” Fisher said. “Unless they hire me, of course.”

While Willson said 10TV was disappointed in the show ending, it was not surprised. He said he thinks Winfrey will continue to be relevant.

“She is still far and away the No. 1 program at 4 (p.m.),” Willson said. “She has the ability of getting any A-list star or leader or whatever. If she wants them on the show, they will be on the show. I think she will continue to be relevant for years.”

Now that her daytime talk show is over, Winfrey is pursuing her own television network called OWN, which stands for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Lamma Johnson, a first-year in English, said she thinks Winfrey’s new station may affect others when it comes to ratings.

“Ratings might also go down once she gets her own network and people are tuning into that instead of other stations,” Johnson said.

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