Wednesday, May 25, 2011

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NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey's impact on your finances won't end with her show.

During its 25 years on the air, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" held enormous sway over how its audience chose to spend and save. Most notably, the show regularly counseled viewers on their household finances. But the program also influenced decisions in more indirect ways.

When Winfrey featured a charity on her show, for example, viewers reached for their wallets. On the spending front, her stamp of approval could turn a little-known product into an instant craze. Her power over book sales is legendary.

That impact won't stop with Wednesday's airing of the final episode. Winfrey will continue connecting with audiences through her 5-month-old cable channel, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Although ratings have faltered, Winfrey plans to focus her energies on the fledgling network after her syndicated program wraps. "O, The Oprah Magazine" remains a top seller with a monthly circulation of more than 2 million.

Here are four ways Winfrey and her show impacted finances — and will continue to do so:

Money Matters

The episodes that made the biggest headlines — think Tom Cruise jumping on a couch, or author James Frey in the hot seat — aren't what made Oprah fans so loyal.

Regular viewers tuned in for guidance on the major issues they struggle with day to day, says Suze Orman, the financial guru whose fame can be traced to the show.

"They are watching 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' not to be entertained, but to be transformed," she says.

And money and health are the topics that resonate most with viewers — which is why Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Orman star in "Oprah's All Stars" on OWN.

Orman's own success speaks to Oprah's influence. The show gave Orman a platform to talk frankly about money issues that clearly struck a chord with women.

The partnership between the women is set to continue. Orman will get her own prime-time show on OWN this fall.

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