Literate, Funny, Irreverent: Linda Ellerbee

Oct 31, 2018

Linda Ellerbee is a Peabody and Emmy Award winning journalist who was one of the first women to anchor the national news. Her work at NBC was groundbreaking, followed by her bestselling books, and her important presence for a quarter of a century explaining the news to young people on Nick News.

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Linda Ellerbee is one of our most respected and outspoken broadcast journalists. She has functioned as a network news correspondent, anchor, writer, producer, and heads her own production company, Lucky Duck Productions.

Ellerbee is a symbol for a different type of reporter: literate, funny, irreverent, and never condescending.

As a Texan, she started her TV career at KHOU in Houston in 1972. New York came calling a short time later, landing her at WCBS and by 1976 – she was on to the big leagues: NBC News. She served as an NBC reporter and by 1978 she was co-anchoring "NBC Weekend" on Saturday nights at 10 p.m. fighting "Dallas" and "Fantasy Island" for viewers.

The show was beaten soundly in the ratings and left the airwaves after nearly a year. For Ellerbee, it was back to "NBC Nightly News" until she was named co-anchor of "NBC News Overnight" again with Lloyd Dobyns and later – Bill Schechner. They took the old time-slot of Tom Snyder’s "Tomorrow" show and followed the then brand new – "Late Night with David Letterman."

"Overnight" was widely regarded as one of the smartest news shows on all of television. It appealed to an eclectic audience of college students, nursing mothers, and late shift workers. It was filled with information, wit and even wisdom. It was never boring.

"And so it goes" was Ellerbee’s trademark broadcast tag line and the title of her 1986 bestseller "And So it Goes: Adventures in Television." Though “Overnight” had many loyal fans, it was never a ratings success and was cancelled after only seventeen months. The book “And So it Goes” was a big bestseller – it may also have gotten Ellerbee fired from NBC.

Ellerbee left NBC and went to ABC. She got a cool contract, made some money and began to host – “Our World” a program to go opposite the ratings king of the day, "The Cosby Show."

“Our World” ended after 10-months. When the ABC deal (and the money) ran out – Ellerbee looked to start her own production company - Lucky Duck Productions. To do what she wanted to do – she needed money. So, she did a Maxwell House Commercial. While she did get a certain amount of criticism for being a journalist doing a commercial, it did help get Lucky Duck off the ground – leading to a 25 year stint with Nickelodeon anchoring "Nick News" for kids where no subject was off the table.

Ellerbee spent half her career reporting the news to adults and the other half explaining the news to children. On December 15, 2015 she retired - 43 years after her first job in journalism.