Oprah Winfrey opens Harpo Studios
Photo: Paul Natkin/Contributor

January 15, 1990

Winfrey’s decision to ditch WLS-TV marked the moment she became more than just America’s most beloved TV personality. She was a mogul now. Film production (Beloved, Precious, Selma), made-for-TV movies (Tuesdays With Morrie, Their Eyes Were Watching God), radio, and of course The Oprah Winfrey Show — the West Loop studio’s Emmy-winning production crews turned out premium content that would help make her the country’s first Black female billionaire — and one of its most prodigiously generous philanthropists.

From the Archives

December 2008 issue
Photo: Michael Zajakowski

Eighteen years after Winfrey founded her studio, her empire had grown to include books, magazines, satellite radio, and a soon-to-launch cable network. She had already left Chicago for California when Marcia Froelke Coburn wrote this December 2008 appraisal.

“Winfrey is confronting a pivotal and complicated time. But a T-shirt sold in Winfrey’s store, across the street from her Harpo Studios headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop, might hold a key to the future. It reads, ‘Become More of Yourself.’ And that is what Oprah Winfrey has always done.”