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LIL' BUDDY'S BLOG - Oprah To Leave? What Will It Mean To Chicago When (or If) She Does?

THE CHICAGO IL REAL ESTATE MARKET, AND OTHER THINGS CHICAGO, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A LITTLE WHITE DOG!

Buddy Formal Photograph - With a Big Smile!Hey, hey you dogs!  Sorry for the delayed post this week - things seemed to get too carried away in my Posting Pen this week.  But I'm back, and ready to type!

Oprah Winfrey! 

She's saying she'll be ending production of her world-renown show in 2011.  Leaving Chicago?  Well, that's not known for sure yet.  But if she did, it's likely to leave a big hole in the city, and in the West Side of Chicago Neighborhood where her Harpo Studios, where her show is taped each day, is located.

As reported by Chicago Tribune Reporter Phil Rosenthal in yesterday's Trib, Oprah started her groundbreaking talk show at the Chicago ABC Affiliate - WLS-TV Channel 7 - back in 1984.  At that time, she took over as host for low-rated AM Chicago, and began build ratings and her local audience.  The Oprah Empire, best as this Lil' White Dog can tell, began to build a couple of years later, in 1986, when the show began its national syndicated run.

Team Leader Dean went to one of those early show tapings by mistake, back in 1985.  Walking by the Channel 7 Studios late one spring morning, he was on his way to get a cup of coffee - a morning meeting was canceled.   A man in a blazer, with a megaphone, was recruiting audience members for the morning's show - he needed 15 more, and it was 30 minutes before the taping was to begin.

Dean said, "What the heck?"  He had some time, and watched the show from the studio audience.  He said it was a bit of a scramble for the guy in the blazer to fill the audience - she was not yet popular, even in her home town. 

The show dealt with local politics - a major brewhaha between then Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and old-guard aldermen fighting the fledgling mayor for city power.    Washington was the first African American Mayor of Chicago - and Oprah was just beginning to make her mark here.

As Dean related to this reporting dog, the show did not seem remarkable.  The studio audience watched the show, Oprah thanked them afterward, and everyone left.

That's a far cry from today - where loyal viewers wait weeks or months for tickets, or bid them up via the Internet.  They come from far and wide to see the show taped at Harpo Studios - and, usually, stick around Chicago to see what else it has to offer.

Over the years, Daddy Dean and I have gotten many calls from out of towners asking if we could use our considerable clout to get them a ticket to see O.  Truth be told, this Lil' White Dog has little pull with the Oprah folks at Harpo.

But Winfrey's presence in Chicago has undoubtedly helped improve the image of our city.  She has advocated the city she has called home for so many years - most recently at this year's season premiere - Michigan Avenue was partly closed for this mega-event.  Oprah Fans remember all the fanfare!

Before Oprah, the West Side Chicago Neighborhood where Harpo Studios was located was populated by abandoned retail fixture stores, long-vacated warehouses, and ramshackle apartments.  Today, it is downright chic - nice restaurants, latte shops, several pricey boutiques.   And condos.  Many, many luxury and loft condos - with residents attracted by the newfound allure of the community.

Will Oprah actually leave Chicago, as she debuts here Oprah Winfrey Cable Network (OWN) in 2011?  If she does, will the neighborhood in which her multi-billion dollar operation is headquartered take a hit?   We dogs surely hope not!

In 2009, in a tough economy, the City of Chicago has taken a hit.  Several major trade shows announced plans to move their major conventions elsewhere, outside of town.  And no one involved can deny that everyone involved was shocked when Chicago did not win the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Oprah was one of the major celebrities - along with fellow Chicagoan, President Barack Obama and The First Lady - who pitched for the games.  They didn't succeed, as we all know!

So, Oprah, take this plea from me and my fellow canine compatriots:  Don't Leave Town!  Indeed . . .  we need you!

Even though many of us in the four-pawed set often watch Animal Planet when you're on each morning!

YOUR ACE REPORTER ON FOUR PAWS,

BUDDY HOLLY MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Saturday, November 21, 2009 9:52 PM by Dean's Team
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