Everyone had to get their start somewhere — even the biggest media mogul in the world.
Over four decades ago, way back in 1974, Oprah Winfrey was a 20-year-old high school graduate still working on her Bachelor’s degree at Tennessee State University when she landed a job at Nashville’s CBS affiliate.
This week, newscaster Chris Conte — who currently works at the NewsChannel5 station — shared a photo of an old memo announcing that Oprah had joind the team.
Flashback: Nashville’s NewsChannel5 reporter Chris Conte tweeted the photo of the decades-old internal memo on WCLA-TV letterhead
Then and now: It announced that Oprah, then just 20 years old, was joining the Eyewitness News team staff as a news reporter
Big deal! She also the African-American TV correspondent at the station, and the youngest person to co-anchor the news there
Chris tweeted a photo of the memo, which was written on WLAC-TV letterhead by news anchor Chris Clark and addressed to the staff.
It is dated January 21, 1974, just days after Oprah — now 65 — turned 20.
‘This will introduce Oprah Winfrey who is joining our staff as a news reporter,’ the typewritten note says.
‘Oprah is a graduate of East High School where she received many honors including membership in the Society of Outstanding American High School Students.
‘More recently, she has served as a newscaster for WVOL radio. She is also working on her Bachelor’s Degree at Tennessee State University.
Up-and-comer: Oprah had previously had a reporter job on the radio and was still working on her degree
Double duty: She got the call about the job while earning her Bachelor’s Degree at Tennessee State University
‘I am sure you will all join with me in making Oprah welcome to the Eyewitness News Team.’
The memo proves that Oprah was exceptional from early on, scoring a radio and TV reporter job before even graduating from college.
She was also the African-American TV correspondent at the station, and the youngest person to co-anchor the news there.
It was a big deal for Oprah, who learned that she’d been hired before the end of 1973, when she was still just 19.
‘I remember leaving class to go take a phone call from Channel 5’s Chris Clark,’ she said, according to Oprah.com.
‘I remember leaving class to go take a phone call from Channel 5’s Chris Clark,’ Oprah said
Star quality: Oprah was an anchor, the youngest ever at the station, with Vic Mason
‘It just felt like breathing,’ Oprah said of being on camera. ‘It felt like this is where I’m supposed to be’
Chris said she was well-spoken and poised, and he hired her because she said she could run a camera and write a news story — which, it turns out, she didn’t.
He eventually figured that out, but it didn’t matter: She was a star.
‘What you see in Oprah today is what I saw so many years ago,’ he said. ‘Oprah, you had the magic to communicate on television, and that is natural born. You just can’t learn that. You can’t develop that. You got it or you don’t got it.’
‘It just felt like breathing,’ Oprah said of being on camera. ‘It felt like this is where I’m supposed to be.’