12/28/2009 at 01:00 AM EST
After a year full of scoops—from her sitdown with Whitney Houston to her chat with Sarah Palin (for which she earned her best ratings in two years)—Oprah
saved her biggest news for the end of the year. On Nov. 20 she announced that "after much prayer and months of careful thought, I decided that next season, season 25, will be the last season of the Oprah Winfrey Show.
" Calling her hour-long chatfest "a miraculous opportunity," Oprah
, 55, promised she's not leaving the spotlight forever. As the chairman of the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is set to launch in 2011, Winfrey will have "a million surprises" for fans, says her pal Nate Berkus. "Oprah
will always have a voice."