"I wasn't allowed to talk to the customers, and can you imagine for me?" she says. "That was very, very, very hard."
Then, at 16, she landed a job that paid her to talk. A Nashville radio station, WVOL, hired Oprah to read the news on the air, which she says she loved.
This gig helped Oprah get her big break. In 1973, Oprah was a 19-year-old sophomore in college when she got a call that changed her life. "I remember leaving class to go take a phone call from Channel 5's Chris Clark," she says.
Chris, a television news reporter, says he remembers Oprah as a well-spoken, poised young woman. When she came in for an interview, Chris says he asked her two questions: "Can you run a camera, and can you write a news story?"
"I think I lied and said, 'Sure I can,'" Oprah says.
Well, it wasn't long before Chris realized she could do neither, but by then, he'd seen her come alive on camera. "What you see in Oprah today is what I saw so many years ago," he says. "Oprah, you had the magic to communicate on television, and that is natural born. You just can't learn that. You can't develop that. You got it or you don't got it."
The first time Oprah was on television, she says it felt like the most natural thing in the world. "It just felt like breathing," she says. "It felt like this is where I'm supposed to be."