You can add radio to Oprah Winfrey’s media empire: The TV host’s new Oprah & Friends channel debuted at 10 a.m. Monday on XM Satellite Radio.
Airing on XM channel 156, Oprah & Friends will feature original programming from Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, including segments hosted by personalities from Winfrey’s TV show and magazine and a weekly show with Winfrey and Gayle King. Many of the shows will be broadcast from a new radio studio in Harpo’s Chicago production headquarters.
Asked if she’s hoping to do for radio what she did for books, Winfrey tells PEOPLE, “I go into everything I do with no expectations. I went into books because I love books. And I’m doing this because I think all of these people have valuable information to share with the world.”
Referring to Beloved, her 1998 film adaptation of the Toni Morrison novel, which failed to meet critical or box-office expectations, Winfrey tells PEOPLE, “I learned my lesson after Beloved. After Beloved came out, I was heartbroken. I was totally depressed. I was eating macaroni and cheese (all the time). Never again. So I have no expectations. Now I put it out there and then see what happens. And I hope for the best.”
“We’ve been practicing for almost a month now with dry runs, so when we launch, we’ll sound polished,” Harpo Radio general manager John Gehron told the Detroit News. “Oprah has wonderful friends. It’s been remarkable working with these people. They’re all bright, fast learners.”
During a short segment about the channel on her TV show last week, Winfrey told the audience, “I hope you get your XM radios.”
The deal with XM is for three years and $55 million. Winfrey will be on the air every week with an hourly show.
Winfrey’s pact with XM is one of the larger deals between a celebrity and a satellite radio station. In January, Howard Stern began broadcasting on XM’s rival, Sirius Satellite Radio, in a deal worth $500 million over five years.
A full programming schedule for Oprah & Friends is expected to be unveiled Monday.
• Reporting by BETH PERRY