AM Chicago Airs
In 1983, Winfrey relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV's low-rated half-hour morning talk-show, AM Chicago.
The first episode aired on January 2, 1984. 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. It was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, expanded to a full hour, and broadcast nationally beginning September 8, 1986. On her 20th anniversary show, Oprah revealed that movie critic Roger Ebert was the one who persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World. Ebert predicted that she would generate 40 times as much revenue as his television show, At the Movies. Already having surpassed Donahue in the local market, Winfrey's syndicated show quickly doubled his national audience, displacing Donahue as the number one day-time talk show in America. Their much publicized contest was the subject of enormous scrutiny.
Swanson was instrumental in hiring talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey (originally for AM Chicago, later renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show), lead anchor John Drury, who had previously worked at WLS, WBBM and WGN-TV and Floyd Kalber, who had led WMAQ-TV to the top of the ratings in the 1960s.