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Linda Ellerbee is an outspoken journalist, award-winning television documentary producer, writer and anchor, best-selling author, breast cancer survivor, mom, grandmother and one of the most sought-after speakers in America.
Ellerbee began her career 40 years ago in 1972 at the Associated Press. In 1973, she was hired to be an on-air reporter at KHOU in Houston, Texas. Six months later, she was offered a job at WCBS, New York, as the “hard news” reporter for the 11pm newscast.
In 1975, she moved to NBC (national) News where, as Congressional Correspondent, she spent years covering national politics.
In 1982, she pioneered the late-night news program NBC News Overnight, which she wrote and anchored with Lloyd Dobyns. Overnight was cited by the duPont-Columbia Awards as “possibly the best written and most intelligent news program ever."
In 1986, Ellerbee moved to ABC News to anchor and write Our World, a weekly primetime historical series. Her writing on Our World won her a national News & Documentary Emmy.
In 1987, Ellerbee and Rolfe Tessem, her partner, quit network news to start Lucky Duck Productions, a New York based company that produces news, documentaries and other specials for broadcast and cable.
Lucky Duck Productions began by producing documentaries for PBS. Then, in 1991, Lucky Duck began producing Nick News for Nickelodeon. Ellerbee is Executive Producer, writer and anchor.
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Nick News, the longest running children’s news program in television history. Nick News is watched by more children than watch all other television news shows put together—and has earned honors traditionally associated with adult programming. Known for the respectful and direct way it speaks to children about the important issues of our time, Nick News has collected three Peabody Awards (including one personal Peabody given to Ellerbee for her coverage of the Clinton investigation), a duPont-Columbia Award and nine national Emmys for Outstanding Children’s Program.
In 2009, Nick News received the Edward R. Murrow Award for best Network News Documentary — and made history as the first children’s television program ever to receive this prestigious award.
For the last 20 years, Ellerbee and her work also have been seen all over the television universe, as Lucky Duck Productions has produced and continues to produce specials for ABC, CBS, HBO, PBS, Lifetime, MTV, Logo, A&E, MSNBC, SOAPnet, Animal Planet and TV Land, among others.
In 2004, Ellerbee was honored with another Emmy, this time for her series, When I Was a Girl, which aired on WE: the women’s entertainment network.
Ellerbee’s first book, And So It Goes (published in 1986), a humorous look at television news, became an instant best seller, and a favorite among journalists. Her second book, Move On, published in 1991, containing stories about being a working single mother, a child of the ‘60s, and a woman trying to find some balance in her life, was also a best seller, as was her third book (published in 2005), Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table, a humorous account of her love of travel, talking to (and eating with) strangers, and, according to Ellerbee, “oh, just making trouble in general.”
Her foray into books for children, an eight-part fiction series entitled Get Real (published in 2000) about middle school students who start a school newspaper, won (and continues to win) her raves among young readers.
As a popular and versatile speaker, Ellerbee travels thousands of miles each year, inspiring audiences with her insight, while filling banquet rooms and concert halls with laughter. They come to hear her trademark wit and wisdom on everything from how to survive corporate America with your values intact to how to survive breast cancer and live to laugh about it (also, she often speaks to medical groups concerning healthcare from a patient’s point of view), and, in general, how to accept — even embrace — a changing world, perhaps even making a few changes yourself.
In 2011, Ellerbee was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Children’s Television at the annual Banff International Media Festival.
Also in 2011, at the annual Gracie Awards, Ellerbee received the Tribute Award, the highest honor given by the Alliance for Women in Media. On presenting the Gracie, former CNN anchor Aaron Brown said to a ballroom of a thousand women, “The two most important women in the history of television news are Barbara Walters and Linda Ellerbee. Barbara Walters made it possible for you to be on television news; Linda Ellerbee made it possible for you to be you on television news.”
Although Ellerbee has won most of television’s highest honors, she says it’s her partner, her two children and four grandchildren who’ve brought life’s richest rewards. Her son, Joshua Veselka, is a journalist. Her daughter, Vanessa Veselka, is a novelist. Her grandchildren, Violet, Ruben, Gabriel and Milo, are noisy. Ellerbee lives in New York City and Massachusetts with Rolfe Tessem, her partner in life and work, and their two Greek rescue dogs, Daisy and Dolly.