Oprah Winfrey Stops by WTVF Nashville for Conference Room Dedication

Oprah Winfrey and the WTVF staff
Oprah Winfrey and the WTVF staff (Image credit: WTVF)

Oprah Winfrey stopped by WTVF Nashville May 5, as the E.W. Scripps station dedicated a conference room to the TV icon, who got her start at the station decades ago. 

Winfrey was in Nashville to do the commencement speech at Tennessee State May 6, and was invited to swing by NewsChannel 5, as WTVF is known, as The Winfrey room was dedicated. 

She was at the station for close to two hours. “The interest in others, the curiosity, the compassion — you see it on TV, but one-on-one, she has every bit of that,” said Lyn Plantinga, WTVF VP and general manager. 

Winfrey began at the station (then WLAC) around 1972, when she was a teenager studying at Tennessee State. Plantinga said Winfrey was the first African-American female anchor in Nashville, starting in that role in 1974. (Winfrey graduated from Tennessee State in 1986, well after her TV career took off.)

When she visited WTVF, Winfrey had a visit from a couple former anchors, Chris Clark and Harry Chapman, who had mentored her. The three caught up for a chat before Winfrey toured the facility and visited the conference room named for her. 

“She was incredibly kind and open and friendly to everyone she met,” said Plantinga. 

The Winfrey is the largest of WTVF’s four conference rooms. Others are named for Nashville-reared women’s suffrage activist Anne Dallas Dudley, for architect Earl Swensson, who designed the WTVF building, and for Jimi Hendrix, who played guitar on the WTVF show Night Train in 1965, in the backup band for an act called Buddy & Stacy when he was a soldier stationed at Fort Campbell. 

Plantinga called Winfrey “the perfect person” to be honored at NewsChannel 5. “She makes an impact and leads with her compassion for others, and that’s absolutely the mission of NewsChannel 5 as well,” she said.

The next day, Winfrey was off to Tennessee State. She spoke for about 20 minutes at Hale Stadium. “You’ll begin to know your own heart and figure out what matters most when you can listen to the still small voice,” Winfrey said. "Every right move I made has come from listening deeply and following that still small voice.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.