Oprah Winfrey's the best friend and editor at large of "O" magazine doesn't know what's next for the talk show queen, and while she understands that fans are saddened about the ending of the show, she says they shouldn't be sad for Winfrey herself.
"After 25 years, it's just time to go while you're on top," Gayle King said on "Good Morning America" today. "It really was as simple as that and, maybe have a semblance of a life.
"Hey listen, no pity party for Oprah, because she has a great life, does wonderful things, but you know, at the end of the day it really is her life …," she added.
Winfrey, who built a billion-dollar media empire, announced last week that she would end her hugely popular afternoon talk show in 2011, after a 25-season run.
In the emotional address to her loyal viewers at a taping of her show on Friday, Winfrey said the time was right.
"Twenty-five years feels right in my bones, and it feels right in my spirit. It's the perfect number -- the exact right time," she said.
King said she wasn't sure what was next for her friend.
"I don't even think she knows," she said, of Oprah's future after the show. "She's riding off from 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' as we know it, but she's not riding off into the sunset."
As for the speculation about who will replace the talk show queen, King said there was "no replacement" for her friend.
"She is so much a part of the culture that we have to come up with a new model, a new way of doing things ...," King said, adding when asked that she didn't see herself filling Oprah's shoes. "I'm happy because I know for her it's the right decision … she's so at peace with it."
Winfrey's plans to end her show have left her many fans devastated. But executives in industries ranging from publishing to television to mom-and-pop stationery stores are also feeling a bit teary-eyed -- because, aside from being a TV mega-celebrity, Oprah Winfrey has been a big moneymaker for a lot of people.
"It definitely has a huge impact. I don't think stations will be closing up business, but there is concern," said Marc Berman, a television analyst with Mediaweek. The impact will primarily be felt at ABC, because the syndicated talk show aired predominantly on local ABC stations across the country.
Last week the program averaged 6.5 million viewers, making it the No. 1 daytime television talk show. Many viewers tended to stick around to watch the local news on the ABC stations on which Oprah aired. That meant bigger audiences for the news shows, which meant more revenue from ad sales.
Publishing World Reeling at Loss of Book Club
If the post-Oprah television landscape is in a state of flux, the publishing industry is positively reeling at the thought that Oprah's Book Club may not survive the talk show's demise.
In 1996, the book club started as a small feature on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Constance Sayre was a publishing executive at the time.
"I remember the first book. Nobody knew what to make of it, and I think they sold 750,000 copies, and everybody in publishing positively stuttered," said Sayre.
Sayre, now at Market Partners International, a book-publishing consulting firm, said it's hard to overestimate the impact of the "Oprah Effect" on the bottom line. "It means a lot no matter who you are, whether you are Random House or someone much smaller. … If you took those sales away, some of the publishers may not make any profit," said Sayre.
Oprah's Touch Affects Music, Other Industries
Sales of one of the book club selections would routinely hit the hundreds of thousands as the titles shot up a variety of best seller lists. "This is going to make a lot of people unhappy," said Sayre.
There will be unhappy people in the music industry too. According to Keith Caulfield, a senior chart manager at Billboard magazine, when the Black Eyed Peas performed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show's" season opener this year, its album sales jumped 29 percent. And when Whitney Houston gave a two-part interview to Oprah, her album sales shot up 77 percent.
And Oprah's Midas touch affected business both large and small.
Felix Doolittle, based in Newton, Mass., is a small stationery company. Co-owner Loren Sklar remembers the day the company heard that Oprah Winfrey had picked Felix Doolittle as her all-time favorite stationery. "When we were picked, it's hard to describe, you really do feel plucked out of the great masses and you have this light shine on you. It's something everyone in business dreams of," said Sklar.
Sklar said the imprimatur of an Oprah pick is unlike anything else, because Oprah's fans are so loyal.
Doolittle was first named to one of O magazine's gift lists more than a year ago. That selection translated immediately into sales and became a marketing tool the company could use on its Web site and Facebook page.