I know it’s been six and half years since her last show, but every so often, around four in the afternoon, there’s a hole in my soul that only that soft-focus, neutral-tone set and the uplifting, best-life-encouraging things that happened on it until 2009 could possibly fill. The times in my life I was home at four in the afternoon, I was at loose ends one way or another, and Oprah was always there. She got me through my first few miserable days of coming home from middle school before I found something to do after school, through some lonely homesick first weeks of college when everyone seemed to be hanging out without me, and through some frantic job searching in my late 20s, broke and lonely in a brand new city. There was nothing that an hour of favorite things, soul-baring interviews, or a good pay-it-forward campaign episode couldn’t help. Or the Oprah jackpot: a whole hour of talking about one book!
If you find yourself in a weird mood someday at four in the afternoon, it’s more than likely because you also miss Oprah. The world is a cruel and horrible place, and her show is never ever coming back, but here are three podcasts where you can find her:
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: My cable company is weird and I don’t have the OWN channel, but that’s ok! You can listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations for free in podcast form. There are FIFTY of them, some in glorious two-part epic conversations, some taped outside one of Oprah’s mansions so you can hear her magical Oprah birds chirping in the background. Whatever you need for whatever you’re going through, Oprah and her friends have got you covered. I did a little Alanis Morissette for some calm reflection on the nature of celebrity, took it up a notch with some Glennon Doyle for some getting-your-shit-together-after-a-crisis chatting, and then finished with a Brene Brown two-parter on vulnerability. These interviews can be intense, and there are not seven commercial breaks in the last twenty minutes like there were on the Oprah show, so pace yourself and then write in your gratitude journal how happy you are that you found this podcast.
Dear Sugars: The Power of ‘No’ With Oprah Winfrey: I thought my head would explode with joy when The Sugars had Oprah on, especially because they were addressing one of my favorite topics: not doing shit you don’t feel like doing. But I kept it together. This two-part episode addressed two letters: a successful writer who’s being sucked dry by all the things people keep asking her to do that are not writing, and a woman whose family takes advantage of her giving and having-her-own-shit-together nature. Oprah throws down, tells some awesome stories about her family members who sound like that give-me-money character Jenny Slate plays on Parks and Recreation, and drops all her Oprah wisdom on these letter writers. Listen to this podcast and stride confidently in the direction of your not-doing-annoying-shit-you-don’t-want-to-anymore dreams!
Making Oprah: One thing I love about this three-part series is that the host, WBEZ’s Jenn White, is the perfect balance of professional, accomplished journalist who knows how to tell a tightly-edited, deeply researched story and total freaking fangirl. When they started making the series, they didn’t know whether they would get to interview Oprah herself, and when they do get to interview her, White’s joy suffuses every minute of the interview. The story of how the show evolved and the controversies and decision points that changed it along the way is addicting and fascinating, and it will make you miss the show more and need to go back and listen to at least seven Super Soul Conversations, drink a gallon of herbal tea, and Google the Wikipedia list of all the Favorite Things lists real quick before you get on with your life again.