The City Magazine Since 1975

The Oprah Effect

The Oprah Effect
September 2019

“I don’t know what to say—unbelievable!” exclaimed Oprah Winfrey as she toured Charleston just two weeks after Hurricane Hugo ravaged the South Carolina coast on September 22, 1989 (30 years ago this month). The popular daytime television star filmed her namesake show at the King Street Palace theater, bringing national attention to the Holy City’s devastation. Clips of Winfrey visiting local residents at their destroyed homes played between live interviews with survivors and Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. (pictured here hugging the host). During the program, Winfrey publicized a toll-free number and encouraged viewers to call and donate to the American Red Cross, which would help fund relief work around the state. After only 24 hours, the organization announced that Winfrey’s fundraising efforts brought in more than $1 million. Such national support helped to rebuild Charleston and get the Lowcountry and its residents back on their feet.


Photograph courtesy of the City of Charleston