Oprah Winfrey fans who think of the daytime television queen as a friend aren't the only ones preparing for withdrawal when her show goes off the air next year. Winfrey's real best friend says it will be a loss for her, too.
"I said to Oprah, 'I'm having a hard time. I'm not ready,'" said Winfrey's BFF, Gayle King. "But, you know, I am ready for her. She makes the best decisions for herself. I totally understand why she's doing it. That said, I can't imagine daytime TV without her."
As Winfrey makes plans to end her reign after 25 seasons, King is devoting more time to a different medium. She hosts on Oprah Radio on Sirius XM, a daily show that was recently extended from one hour to two hours.
King likes to keep an open dialogue with her listeners on a variety of subjects ranging from international news to pop culture. Instead of heated debates, she takes a kinder, gentler approach while not shying away from disagreements.
"I don't believe you have to annoy people to get them to listen or for them to like you," she said. "I'm not sitting here trying to be liked ... but I do like to engage in conversation with other people, and I think it's OK to agree to disagree without being nasty to each other."
Radio isn't King's only gig. King also is editor-at-large for O magazine and occasionally appears on Winfrey's syndicated TV show, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which is produced in Chicago.
King has known Winfrey for more than 25 years, and they used to work together in TV news. King says she'll have a to-be-determined role on Winfrey's cable channel, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
"I know I will do something with OWN, but I don't know what that is," she said. "We're trying to figure that out."
As for the idea of replacing Winfrey, King says no one can fill her friend's shoes.
"You'll have to come up with something else. Come up with another model. Come up with another way of doing things," King said. "The Oprah genre as we know it is done and done with her. Now we have to find something else to do and someone else to watch."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.