Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

I never dated Oprah

Posted April 15, 2010

I want to make one thing perfectly clear. John Tesh and I were roommates. But I never dated Oprah. 

John and I shared a Raleigh apartment back in the 1970s. We lived at Meredith Village off Lake Boone Trail. John had just left school at N.C. State where he was a soccer player. I had recently graduated from UNC. I helped train John for his first radio job. We were members of the 20-20 News Team at WKIX. With no experience, John managed to land a part-time job based solely on his height. He was 6’6” and program director Pat Patterson needed a center for the Kix Kagers basketball team. 

With his square jawed good lucks and boyish charm, John gained the attention of television news directors. After a brief stint as an evening anchor in the Triangle John took off for a top anchor job in Orlando. I remember getting a phone call the morning after he arrived in Florida. Someone had stolen his U-Haul trailer at the Days Inn where spent the night. Everything he owned was gone. He was heartbroken but determined to make things work in Florida. After lighting up the ratings in Orlando John received a lucrative offer from WSMV in Nashville. This is where he met rookie reporter Oprah Winfrey. John admitted this week that the two had a romantic relationship while in Nashville. 

While I never visited John in Tennessee, I did see him in New York where he landed his next job in television. We had a great time seeing the city together and dining at some cool restaurants. Here in the Big Apple John rekindled his love for music and, following a long stint as co-host of Entertainment Tonight, began to pursue a full-time musical career. In 1996, while on tour, John invited me to play with him on stage at Walnut Creek in Raleigh. That was the catalyst for my own big plunge into music. Several years ago John agreed to join me and my group Lorica for a benefit concert for the Alzheimer’s Association in Raleigh. 

I asked John to join me for the Bill Leslie & Lorica concert in Cary Saturday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with the Concert Singers of Cary. John said he’d love to make it but is too busy answering reporters’ questions about Oprah. No worries, John. You were still a great roommate and one of my best friends of all-time.


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  • rabrantley Apr 19, 2010

    GoldenLover, Pat Patterson is indeed still with us and can be heard on Saturdays from 10am until 6pm on the radion at 570AM - check it out: he still does the Fundermont Airlines ads!
    Bill, I didn't know you ever worked at WKIX. I am enjoying its resurgence on 850AM and am hoping that Pat Patterson will be going over to KIX when the format changes at 570AM in a few weeks.

  • zamboniman Apr 15, 2010

    My wife and I saw the concert in '96. First time we saw Bill "live",all my wife said when Bill came out on stage was "hello Bill Leslie". When John went out in to the audience while performing, he stopped right where we were sitting. My wife got to do a little dancing with John, she was in 7th. heaven the rest of the night. I met Oprah years ago when she was a reporter for WJZ in Baltimore. Shes really changed since then.

  • bleslie Apr 15, 2010

    Great blog idea, Lisa! Thanks. And I appreciate all the kind comments. I was just having fun with John being in the news this week. He always liked publicity - good or bad. CD sales soared!

  • lseltmann Apr 15, 2010

    I saw that concert of John's in 1996. It was a great show and I thought it was cool when you walked out to join him.

  • blytle Apr 15, 2010

    Great story, Bill. You had me going for a minute after you said you'd invited John Tesh to appear in Saturday's concert. I've been a fan of his music for many years. That would have been quite a treat. However, I'm just as excited about seeing you perform!!

  • iamyeary Apr 15, 2010

    Yesterday I was going to ask you that same question! I knew that you were friends with John for many years and wondered if you knew the truth. Why did it take so long for them to admit it?
    Oprah likes to talk so much about herself...:-)

  • LMRA Apr 15, 2010

    This brings up an interesting question. Has anyone ever dated or turned down a date with someone before they were famous (or infamous?). In high school I turned down a date with Boomer (Norman) Esiason - the ex-NFL quarterback and now football analyst. He was the quarterback at our rival high school and I guess I was being 'true to my school.' Look where that got me?????

    I think the story is priceless Bill . . . thanks for sharing!


  • GoldenLover Apr 15, 2010

    Boy, Pat Patterson's name brings back some great memories of good old AM radio. I loved his morning show. His ads for "Fundermont Airlines" always cracked me up. "Fundermont Airlines. You won't even know you're off the ground, because you're not". Is Pat still with us? I have heard anything about him since I met him at his restaurant on Creedmoor Rd.

  • HockeyRules Apr 15, 2010

    "How did Fox's story on Opoo get to be about you?"

    I don't think this is anything other than Bill recollecting about a friendship from way back. Not sure what the problem is with him doing that.

  • UNCfuturealumi Apr 15, 2010

    A great story. Nothing is sweeter than a true friend.




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