Oprah Winfrey signs $55 million deal with XM Radio

Television talk show host Oprah Winfrey has signed a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio Holding Inc. to start a new radio channel in September, the Associated Press reported.

In a Feb. 9 press release, Harpo, Inc. announced that the new channel, Oprah & Friends, will feature “a broad range of original programming from Harpo Radio, Inc., including regular segments hosted by popular personalities from The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine, and an exclusive original weekly half-hour reality radio show with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King.”

It will air programs that cater to health, fitness and self-improvement. Personalities such as Dr. Robin Smith, licensed psychologist and author; Dr. Mehmet Oz, noted heart surgeon and co-author of the best-selling book YOU: The Owner’s Manual; and Bob Greene, exercise physiologist and Winfrey’s personal trainer are slated to make special appearances.

“Together with my friends, we look forward to creating programming that will entertain, inform and inspire our listening audience on XM," said Winfrey about the new station.

Victor T. Johnson, a senior majoring in public relations at Howard University is unsure about the benefits of this new radio channel. “I don’t see how it’s going to benefit (Oprah),” he said. “The $55 million is chump change to her.”

Johnson also pointed out that rivalry may have played a part in this new venture for Harpo, Inc. “With Howard Stern beating her to the punch with Sirius, I feel like she is competing with him.”

XM has been in fierce competition with rival company, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. who recently signed a five-year contract with Stern, a controversial radio talk show host, for $600 million.

Despite that expensive agreement, Harpo Productions, Inc. president Tim Bennett is confident that Oprah & Friends will be as successful as Harpo’s other media holdings. "Oprah & Friends will not only complement our existing television, print, film, cable and online properties but will provide new opportunities to extend our brand to XM’s millions of listeners."

Jessica Battle, a junior majoring in math and sculpture at Howard University, thinks the new channel is a good idea. “If there is an audience for it, then I say go for it,” she said. Battle noted that all of Winfrey’s business enterprises to date have been positive ones.

President and Chief Executive Officer of XM Satellite Radio, Hugh Panero, said “Oprah Winfrey is a prolific force in our culture whose unprecedented achievements in television, film, publishing and philanthropy will bring an amazing radio experience to the XM nation of subscribers. We are proud to welcome Oprah and her talented team to the XM family."