OPRAH EXPANDS EMPIRE

Media maven inks $55 million deal with XM Radio

Oprah Winfrey is already the queen of multimedia, with a syndicated television show and consumer magazines in her empire. Get ready for her reign to head into the stratosphere with her newly inked three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio.

The new channel, Oprah and Friends, will feature a show co-hosted by Winfrey pal Gayle King and other original content from Harpo Radio, a new division of Winfrey’s Harpo Productions Inc. Topics will include self-improvement, fitness, and current events. Listeners can expect to hear many of Winfrey’s more popular guest experts from the television show, including psychologist and author Dr. Robin Smith and super-designer Nate Berkus.

The deal could not have come at a better time for XM. Rival satellite radio operator, Sirius Satellite Radio, received tons of publicity and a huge influx of subscribers after signing shock jock Howard Stern. Sirius says its subscriber base jumped from 700,000 before the Stern deal was announced to 3.3 million. XM is the industry leader with more than 6 million subscribers.

Partnering with Winfrey gives XM a counterweight to Stern’s popularity without the controversy that surrounds Stern’s show. “One of the reasons I agreed to do this is because I believe that they are the brand leader in satellite radio and that the folks at XM share the same kind of commitment to providing quality and diverse content to the audience as I do,” said Winfrey in a media call.

Moving into satellite radio is a logical step for Winfrey’s empire. However, she insists it was more than just a business decision. “This is a full circle moment for me and for Harpo’s history, because not many people know I started out in radio-local radio-when I was still a sophomore in high school and that led to my career in television,” said Winfrey.

“Oprah is a cultural force,” says David Butler, director of corporate affairs for XM. “Everyone here is thrilled to have her working with us.”
Oprah and Friends will hit the airwaves in September.

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