I'm Spiritual, Dammit

Dear Oprah and Xm Radio: Your subscribers deserve a refund

I am just curious- but does Oprah Winfrey listen to her own radio station?  If she does, how can a woman with such high standards for television and her magazine possibly be okay with the train wreck that has become XM 156?  For a woman who is known for "walking her talk"- I think the message boards on Oprah.com tell a very different story.
The Oprah Winfrey Show: Fridays Live From New York
I never usually read message boards on websites.  Most often, they are swarming with bitter people who have too much spare time.  But the posts on Oprah.com about the demise of her radio station are both intriguing and intelligent.  

Sure these people are angry- but for good reason.  Seems that the folks at XM 156 just took off the original shows a couple of weeks ago, and stuck in repeats of the Oprah television show for the bulk of the day- (10 hours on most days...even MORE on weekends.) Other than Gayle King, sex advice from Dr. Laura Berman, and repeats of Dr. Oz, just about every other host is gone.  And Oprah hasn't given any sort of explanation about this to her listeners.  Not one word. 

As a result, there are hundreds of distraught posts on the Oprah.com message boards- and most of them read like this one:

I am not a blogger type of person and rarely take the time to write in on these topics but I had XM installed in my home so I could listen to Oprah AND Friends 156 anytime day and night.  It was a station where I knew I could get a well rounded, well thought out, informative, fun, inspirational and educational and VARIED program lineup.  Now, I'm seriously considering just cancelling XM altogether.  

Bummed out in Oregon  

The day I was told that Oprah was going into radio a few years ago, I was so relieved.  As a life long Chicagoan, I had become frustrated by talk radio in our town.  I wanted to hear intelligent conversations that were not all about celebrities or locker room humor.  The only female hosts were in their 60's, and nobody ever talked about spirituality.  

Then came "O".  Yay!  I was actually given a subscription to XM for my birthday two years ago because I still had issues with PAYING for radio.  While many of the hosts on XM 156 seemed uncomfortable doing interviews and tossing it to the break, I still had hope.  These were best selling authors and ground breaking spiritual leaders doing original shows every single day.  I looked forward to my little "take aways"- knowing that these educated individuals were going to be on the air having stimulating conversations. 

'Precious' Premiere - 34th Annual Toronto International Film Festival

I think there are only two hosts now on XM 156 who are delivering new shows; Gayle King and Dr. Laura Berman.  To fill the day- these are repeated several times, along with Dr. Oz repeats, and 10 hours a day of Oprah television repeats.  Yes- old Oprah TV shows on the RADIO.  

Now I like Gayle- but I don't need her for 5 hours.  And Dr. Laura spends so much time talking about vibrators, I can never have her on when I'm driving my 3 year old around.  (If you read my blog, you know he's already frequently using the word "dick".)  Dr. Laura talks so often about the sex toys that she sells, I started wondering if she paid for the time on XM.  She literally sounds like an infomercial.  

How on earth is this "living your best life" programming? 

If we wanted your television show, Oprah- we would watch or tivo your television show.  Most of your radio listeners already do this.  We paid for our subscription to XM to hear original radio programs. 

My thought is that she is hoping the listener turmoil will either just go away, or the people she hired will come up with a plan.  But so far- their plans stink.  

Were the original hosts too expensive?  Then scour the country for affordable radio professionals who will interview Oprah's "friends" so they can still contribute without having to come into the studio every day.  What listeners want is inspirational information.  I know several media professionals- (myself included) who have a mission to change the world with inspiring stories.  Oprah gave all of us radio fans hope.  And then she decided to ignore her own product.  We spent our hard earned money in a struggling economy to listen to her and her friends.  And now, we get nothing but silence and repeats.

When Oprah started her magazine, I remember her publicly mentioning that it needed work to be a product that was up to her standards.  She stuck with it and tweaked everything from the inside out.    

So why aren't you doing this on the radio side, Oprah?  You STARTED your career in radio- so don't abandon one of the last platforms we have for long formed conversations.  Talks that don't have to be broken up every 4 minutes with commercials.  You CAN make a difference in radio.  Please show us what you've got.

If not, then I agree with many of the posts on Oprah.com..... that Oprah and XM owes every single subscriber a refund.  We either deserve an effort- or our money back.  You're a business woman, O - you can see that we haven't gotten a return on our investment.  So take the bull by the horns, and make a difference.  Make your listeners proud.  

Otherwise, I'm joining the hundreds of upset XM subscribers and canceling mine by Christmas.  

And now, it's back to the drawing board for what to tune into while driving.  Since I'm no longer listening to XM156, I've been re-familiarizing myself with radio in Chicago.  It's still pretty limited for "spiritual warriors" such as myself.  The two women hosts we had in town were let go- and while they were far from spiritual, just about all that's left now are a bunch of crabby white guys. 

If anyone who programs a radio station in Chicago is reading this, please note:  Women make up half the population.  We are the decision makers of the household and the driving force for advertisers.  The last thing our radio dial needs?      


If we can't count on Oprah- someone else should step up to the plate and bring in some inspiring hosts.  Maybe I'll just have to get a new ipod this year for my birthday and forget about talk radio for good..
After all, music can be inspiring too, dammit!



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1 Comment

KHoffmanNaperville said:

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After WGN dumpd Kathy and Judy, I knew Chicago radio had no interest in my advertising dollars. As much as I liked listening to Steve Cochran, I gave up on the entire station.
The quality of call-in for Gary Meier was deplorable. I think they thought they were calling into "da Loop".
You mission is clear, Jen, Please figure out a way to get "it" done. BTW, I am enjoying your writing tremendously. Keep up the good work.
10 hours ago ยท Delete

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