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Oprah tells viewers she is signing off in 2011

November 20, 2009 | 10:16 am

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Oprah Winfrey
didn't mention her new gig on her talk show today when she told viewers that she is indeed ending her unprecedented run as talk show queen on Sept. 9, 2011.

But her new basic cable network, OWN, (Oprah Winfrey Network) released a statement this morning announcing that her legacy will live on in her 24-hour Discovery Communications venture, which premieres in Jan. 2011 and is based in Burbank. OWN will debut on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel.

"Oprah has been nourishing people through her television show for nearly 25 years, a legacy that has touched millions the world over,” said Christina Norman, CEO of OWN, in a statement.  “She is the life force behind OWN and will be guiding the effort for this completely new 24-hour television experience premiering in January 2011."

Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav also piped in today with a statement: "There is no bigger brand in media than Oprah Winfrey. She has changed the broadcast landscape and how people consume television. Along the way, she impacted our culture and touched us all. We congratulate her and our friends at Harpo for their many achievements, and their years of creating truly ground-breaking television."

But enough about the future. Today, Winfrey focused on the last 20-plus years in remarks she made at the end of today's shows, according to the Chicago Tribune.

After much prayer, and months of careful thought, I've decided that next season -- Season 25 -- will be the last season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show. And over the next couple of days, you may hear a lot of speculation in the press about why I am making this decision now, and that will mostly be conjecture. So I wanted you to hear this directly from me.

Twenty-four years ago, on Sept. 8, 1986, I went live from Chicago to launch the first national "Oprah Winfrey Show." I was beyond excited and as you all might expect, a little nervous. I knew then what a miraculous opportunity I had been given, but I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessings that have led me to this moment with you. [Her voice grows thick with emotion] These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure, and you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives.

And for some of you longtime Oprah viewers, you have literally grown up with me. We've grown together. You've had your families and you've raised your children and you left a spot for me in your morning or your afternoon, depending on when the Oprah show airs in your town. So I just wanted to say that whether you've been here with me from the beginning or you came on board last week, I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear, and your trust in me -- the sharing of your precious time with me every day -- has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.

So here we are, halfway through Season 24 and it still means as much to me to spend an hour with you as it did back in 1986. So why walk away and make next season the last? Here is the real reason. I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it's time to say goodbye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number. The exact right time....

So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me, right through to the final show.

In Los Angeles, you can watch Winfrey tell the audience at 3 p.m. on KABC.

--Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Winfrey announces she's leaving her talk show after 25 years Friday. Credit: Harpo Productions

Related:

The Oprah Effect: Winners and Losers

Oprah to end her show

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