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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

I never dated Oprah

Posted April 15, 2010 11:24 a.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2010 11:33 a.m. EDT

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.