When I was but a neat thing, I dimly remember a certain program that aired after all sensible people had gone to bed.
Nobody ever accused me of being sensible, even at that tender age. Anyway!
In 1982, NBC, in a moment of clarity and sanity, debuted a news program for insomniacs. NBC News Overnight, it was called. Though it ran merely an hour (and usually ran at about 2:00 am) it packed a lot of information in.
Moreover, it had a smart, somewhat sarcastic, extremely witty approach to the day's events. Please give us about 10 minutes of your time, and view the debut program, which aired on 6 July 1982. And please .. pay attention. I do not make this request flippantly. I'm serious about it, because this is how witty, smart and fun an American news program could have been:
(all credit must go to YouTube user LATVNews, who wins the award here. And if you caught the name "Tritia Toyota" in the promo just before the program started, here's a PDX connection; she was born here)
Like Lloyd Dobyns (who must be the most underrated news anchor in national TV history) said of the Lunar eclipse which happened to grace the inagural program, "what other progarm ever did that for you?"
Well, no other program even now, as far as I can remember.
Another thing that NBC News Overnight gave me was an enduring affection for Linda Ellerbee. Not only because she was just as witty as her opposite number, but because she formed an opinion of women I hold to this day: intelligent, well-spoken women are hot.
I still have a crush on Linda Ellerbee ca. 1982. If I met her today, I'd still be thrilled.
Sadly, the span of the program was only 367 days (though it was 5 days a week; the show ran from 6 July 82 through 3 December 1983). According to Wikipedia, the duPont Columbia Awards deemed it "possibly the best written and most intelligent news program ever", and that credit remains, in my arrogant opinion. I've been a consumer of many newsers since, ABC World News Now came close in the wit department (especially in the Aaron Brown/Lisa McCree inaugural days) but nothing has ever been as intelligent, no other program has treated its viewers as intelligent, thinking people instead of voids waiting to be filled with whether or not Britney wore her underwear today.
Like I said, NBC News Overnight was not only what broadcast news should have been, it's what news should be now. And that's why some of us bitch about why news is so very sorry today.
And if all that weren't enough, how classy can a news program be that closes with a tagline out of Vonnegut and still doesn't make you feel left out of the loop.
And So It Goes, saith Linda every night. Because of her, I read Vonnegut.
Here's some more '80s goodness. A segment where Lloyd and Linda report on such 80s landmarks as the Dow going above 2,000, and the delivery of the then-new Space Shuttle Challenger being delivered to the Cape. At least this is worth watching for the corn elevator in Iowa collapsing and being caught in the act (and too many 80s-era news nuggets to recount here):
And here's the first part of the last, or 367th, edition of the program, co-anchored by Dobyns's successor, Bill Schechner ... including lovely unemployment numbers sliding from above ten percent to almost eight percent, which pleasantly surprised Ronald Reagan – as Linda said, the news is better that it has been, and that's a fact.:
This is what broadcast news could have been ... and is not.
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