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WLS Looking Live and Local For 'Oprah' Slot

WLS Chicago is working on a live, local show with the working title Morning Rush for when local hero Oprah Winfrey departs broadcast TV next year, reports Chicago media reporter Robert Feder.

WLS airs Oprah at 9 a.m. President/General Manager Emily Barr had thus far been quiet about whether the ABC O&O would create a new program, grab one from the LiveWell HD digital network it contributes programming to, or buy a syndicated program to fill the Oprah slot.

“We’ve got a couple ideas, but we’re not ready to say,” she told me in May. “We’re very excited about the possibilities.”

Feder got a little more from Barr yesterday.

“We’re very excited about the prospect of doing a live, local show,” Barr said. “I think it’s going to be very invigorating.”

Based on a three-minute demo tape using the working title of “Morning Rush” and featuring quick cuts of people and places in and around Chicago, Barr won approval from her ABC bosses to develop the show. “We literally threw it all in there, not knowing exactly what we were going to do, but knowing that we had to show what we’re capable of doing,” she said of the tape. “Nothing has been decided yet in terms of the show’s hosts or set or look or name - except to say that we intend to make it live and local and fun.” One more thing: It’s also expected to feature a studio audience each day.

Stations airing Oprah of course have a huge decision to make about what to slot it in Winfrey’s place, which is typically a lead-in to early evening news. Many were particularly curious about what WLS would do, as the place where the broadcasting legend took root.