Read Nikki Finke's blow-by-blow account of Oprah's decisionmaking, plus a comment Oprah allegedly made regarding Southern California vs. Chicago:
THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW started out as an imitation of the interviews-plus-let-audience-ask-some-questions format which made Phil Donahue a success. And, in the early seasons, Oprah exuded an Everywoman appeal (at one point, the show used the song "I'm Every Woman" for its theme) which made it easy for audiences to identify with her.
As the years went on, Oprah became super-rich and the self-important, lording-it-over-everyone aspects of newfound superwealth permeated the show (with a low point being her on-air scolding of the Paris department store Hermes for apparently not knowing who she was). Also there was her tendency to lapse into a sort of vocalese (JUUUUULIIIIIA ROOOBBEEEERRRTTTSSS!)--with her delivery of the line "I'm having a Martha Moment!" (prior to Martha Stewart's jail time and her Mark Burnett-assisted comeback as a rival daytime host) being particularly memorable in the wrong way.
Having said that, the show had its moments of insight/watchable guests-and-experts over its two-plus decades. And, through the Book Club, viewers were exposed to both writers they weren't familiar with plus great novels they may not have read otherwise.
So let's see what the Discovery-affiliated Oprah Winfrey Network will offer longtime fans/newcomers in 2011.