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She moved to Baltimore's WJZ-TV in 1976 to co-anchor the six o'clock news.
In 1977, she was removed as co-anchor and worked lower profile positions at the station.
Their much-publicized contest was the subject of enormous scrutiny.
TIME magazine wrote: Few people would have bet on Oprah Winfrey's swift rise to host of the most popular talk show on TV.
In 1983, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV's low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago. Within months after Winfrey took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.
The movie critic Roger Ebert persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World.
As interviewers go, she is no match for, say, Phil Donahue ...
Though criticized for unleashing a confession culture, promoting controversial self-help ideas, Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. Winfrey's biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey (born c.
1933), a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when she was born.
Winfrey became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, and joined her high school speech team at East Nashville High School, placing second in the nation in dramatic interpretation.
She won an oratory contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, a historically black institution, where she studied communication.
She began attending Lincoln High School, Milwaukee; but after early success in the Upward Bound program, was transferred to the affluent suburban Nicolet High School, where she says her poverty was constantly rubbed in her face as she rode the bus to school with fellow African-Americans, some of whom were servants of her classmates' families.