Reporting Denise Koch
BALTIMORE (WJZ) –The world is celebrating Oprah as she ends her talk show after 25 years. The Oprah Winfrey Show signed off for the final time Wednesday. But many of us at WJZ are remembering the years she spent with us here.
Denise Koch reports the career of the world’s most popular talk show host really took off when she hit the airwaves in Baltimore, and everybody who watched her then knew they were watching someone special.
She may be an international sensation, but Oprah Winfrey’s path to stardom started right here on Television Hill where WJZ made Oprah a household name in Baltimore.
Winfrey came to WJZ from Nashville in 1976 when she was 22. She anchored the 6 p.m.with Jerry Turner, eventually the noon news and co-hosted “People are Talking” with Richard Sher.
Her years on WJZ’s weekday morning talk show put Winfrey on the map. She was willing to share whatever was on her mind.
“If American women are lousy lovers, it is because their partners — American men– are lousy,” Winfrey said then.
“How terrible. I got a hair in mine. I put one of my hairs in it. I’m sorry, go ahead,” said Winfrey another time.
Mornings haven’t been the same since she debuted WJZ’s “Morning Edition” in 1982 with Marty Bass.
When Winfrey left WJZ in 1983, many familiar faces sent her off to Chicago with warm wishes.
“She has made my work a joy, really. My life is a joy because this is generally my life here. I wish her the best, really,” said anchor Jerry Turner.
“Oprah, all I can tell you is the Windy City is aptly named. You better bring your parka,” said Bob Turk.
“Oprah is one of the few human beings in this business that I’ve met–a true genuine person who also has talent,” said anchor Al Sanders.
A few years ago, Oprah Winfrey returned to WJZ.
“I have so many friends here. This is like being home,” she said.
She handed out hugs and took a walk down memory lane with Richard Sher.
“It felt really good driving up the hill. I was kind of disoriented, but as soon as I hit Malden, man, I knew exactly where I was. It’s really good,” said Winfrey. “As you know, this is where I got my stuff here, working with you every day.”