The new podcast, Making Oprah, chronicles how Oprah Winfrey became the most successful woman in television and built an unrivaled media empire.
Jennifer White, host of “Making Oprah” Podcast talked about the highlights in a live Skype interview.
1.What was the overall response of this podcast and were you surprised by the immediate interest people had for it?
I’ve heard from people all over the world about how much they enjoyed the project. People from Australia, New Zealand. It’s been remarkable. I thought there’d be interest in the project but I’m surprised by the number of men and the number of people outside the US that I’ve heard from.
2. There was a lot of work and many hours that went into creating a project like this–what is your proudest moment?
Definitely getting the chance to interview Oprah. The fact that she was so transparent and generous with her time…that makes it a real coup.
3. What surprised you the most about interviewing Oprah and what was that experience like?
She’s a fascinating woman and (obviously) a good talker. It can be awkward when a person who is used to being the interview becomes the interviewee but she was great. I was most surprised by the behind the scenes evolution of the show. The success of Oprah Winfrey Show feels inevitable in retrospect. However, there really were several points when the show could have failed.
4. Explain why daytime talk show pioneer, Phil Donahue was one your favorite interview subjects from this entire project? What’s an interesting take away from that interview?
Phil Donahue is remarkably clear eyed about the differences between him and Oprah. I was surprised by how clearly he understood why Oprah was able to resonate with her audience in a deeper, more meaningful way. His experience as a middle class white guy limited him in certain ways. He had to “grow up” on his show. Oprah didn’t.
5. What do you want people to get from this podcast? What was your intention?
Our intention was to show how the Oprah Winfrey Show evolved over the years and figure out how it became such a juggernaut. The podcast also became a story about how the media landscape evolved and what it meant for television.
6. What did you learn from this project and how does it impact your career moving forward?
Definitely the importance of intention, in big ways and small ways. Whether it’s deciding what I’m trying to accomplish on a given day or in a particular interview, or what my goals are for my career overall, I have to be clear about what I’m trying to do and why. That will definitely stay with me.