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In 1983, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV's low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago. Within months after Winfrey took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.The movie critic Roger Ebert persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World.Her frustrated mother once again sent her to live with Vernon in Nashville, Tennessee, although this time she did not take her back.Vernon was strict but encouraging, and made her education a priority.
Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, By the mid-1990s, she had reinvented her show with a focus on literature, self-improvement, and spirituality.
She began attending Lincoln High School, Milwaukee; but after early success in the Upward Bound program, was transferred to the affluent suburban Nicolet High School, where she says her poverty was constantly rubbed in her face as she rode the bus to school with fellow African-Americans, some of whom were servants of her classmates' families.
She began to steal money from her mother in an effort to keep up with her free-spending peers, to lie to and argue with her mother, and to go out with older boys.
Ebert predicted that she would generate 40 times as much revenue as his television show, At the Movies.
Winfrey's syndicated show brought in double Donahue's national audience, displacing Donahue as the number-one daytime talk show in America.