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Oprah began her broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville while still in high school. At the age of 19, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to anchor the news at Nashville's WTVF-TV. She then relocated to Baltimore's WJZ-TV to co-anchor the "Six O'Clock News" and later went on to become co-host of its local talk show, People Are Talking.

In 1984, Oprah moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV's morning talk show, AM Chicago, which became the number one local talk show—surpassing ratings for Donahue—just one month after she began. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. It entered national syndication in 1986, becoming the highest-rated talk show in television history. In 1988, she established Harpo Studios, making her the third woman in the American entertainment industry (after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball) to own her own studio.

Produced by Oprah's Harpo Studios, The Oprah Winfrey Show entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for 25 years. The show reached more than 40 million viewers a week in the United States as the top-rated talk show and was licensed to 150 countries internationally.

In 2008, Oprah and Discovery Communications announced plans to create OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah's heart and creative instincts inform the brand—and the magnetism of the channel. Oprah provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications. The network debuted on January 1, 2011 and is available in 85 million homes. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com. Effective July 2011, Oprah assumed the positions of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer for the network.

Oprah's Lifeclass is a true multi-platform experience with million of students from over 200 countries around the world engaging with Oprah on-air, online and via social media. In the popular series, Oprah and handpicked experts interact with fans worldwide in inspiring conversations about principles that guide our lives. The series, which is also live streamed at Oprah.com and Facebook, features a digital classroom with course work to accompany episode themes.

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