Oprah is winding down her last season of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and people are beginning to wonder if another superstar will step in to fill the void she leaves. Popeater speculates today that Katie Couric might be the next Oprah. [Source: Shuter, Rob. Can Katie Couric Replace Oprah as Queen of Daytime?, Popeater.com, 1/31/11, downloaded from: http://www.popeater.com/2011/01/31/katie-couric-replace-oprah-daytime-talk/]
But Katie Couric is no Oprah Winfrey, for several indisputable reasons:
1. Oprah Winfrey is viewed primarily as a talk-show host, while Katie Couric is viewed primarily as a news personality. It is a mistake to undervalue the decades of time Oprah has invested in being a talk-show host, and the resulting image she has fostered. Katie Couric might be a very capable news personality, but she simply cannot slide into Oprah’s slot; first she would have to become a day-time television personality, and that would probably take a while. Couric’s career to date has been news-oriented, and news is different from talk.
2. Oprah Winfrey seems nice, while Katie Couric seems mean. I think Couric will forever be tainted by her interview with Sarah Palin. If memory serves, the interview occurred about two months prior to the 2008 Presidential election. Couric completely savaged Palin, which made her popular among some rabid liberals. Most people I talked to, though – regardless of political orientation – thought Couric had been cruel to Palin. While Sarah Palin might not be a nobel laureate, she seems basically nice. Couric, on other hand, seems vicious. And you have to be nice to replace Oprah Winfrey. The Oprah show is all about the comfort of knowing that your host would never intentionally make a guest appear stupid.
3. Oprah Winfrey has millions of loyal fans, while Katie Couric probably does not. The suggestion that Couric replace Oprah implies that Couric has a fan base of millions to substitute for Oprah’s fan base. In fact, there is no evidence to support that idea. It took Oprah decades to build up her following of millions. Given a few decades, maybe Couric could do that (maybe). But there is no chance that Katie Couric will instantly have the number of followers necessary to imitate Oprah. As a result, if Couric launches a new show it is likely to appear like a failure initially.
At the moment, I cannot think of anyone capable of replacing Oprah Winfrey. I think it is far more likely that the existing daytime hosts will each see a slight increase in their viewership as Oprah fans look other places for daytime entertainment. The idea that Katie Couric could step into Oprah’s shoes is extremely hard to swallow, for the reasons listed above.
Shuter, Rob. Can Katie Couric Replace Oprah as Queen of Daytime?, Popeater.com, 1/31/11, downloaded from: http://www.popeater.com/2011/01/31/katie-couric-replace-oprah-daytime-talk/