There was something about Linda. Never mind that her show, NBC News Overnight, was perhaps the most intelligent and entertaining news program that I’ve ever watched. Something about ending my day watching her deliver the news put me to sleep happy.
It was 1982. Late night TV was something very new. I had in the past watched until a loud rendition of the Stars Spangled Banner was played, and the image of the American Flag was replaced by the color bars and the obnoxious, jolting high pitched squeal. Try to sleep after that!
Then, one night in the summer of 1982, at 1:30 AM when David Letterman was over, I didn’t turn off the TV, and on came a brand new news show. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch news so late at night, but this show was different. It was softer, more of a news magazine style, with longer segments, which were possible because of its one-hour length.
Linda was both writer and anchor. She knew what I wanted to watch just before I slept. She was low key, soft spoken. She didn’t have the phony wall-to-wall smile that many news anchors had. She delivered the news mostly in a serious, almost deadpan style. But when something was funny, which it often was, her natural smile came out, and it was charming.
She was a combination of funny, intelligent, entertaining, and comforting. It wasn’t just the quality of the news program. There was something about Linda. I looked forward to ending each day watching her on the TV. The face. The smile. The hair. The glasses.
In ‘82 I was twenty-one. I didn’t date much, and I had never had a romantic relationship. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that one of the things most important to me in a relationship was to end my day with the comfort of my partner, either talking, or listening, or just being there for each other. I didn’t understand it at the time, but ending my day watching Linda fulfilled a good part of that need.
My mother was also a night owl, and she watched Linda too. I remember discussing Linda with her. Being a fan of Linda was one of the things that she and I bonded over. Mom had a Brooklyn accent, which drops and adds Rs, and she would say “Lin-deR EllA-bee”. If there is a heaven and Mom is looking down on me and reading this now, then she is still laughing about that.
People who know me well know that I sometimes have trouble sleeping at night. I’ve read lots of literature about sleep hygiene. It’s good to have a routine. Do something passive. Wind down. Meditate. I had it down pat, back in 1982-1983 when News Overnight was on. Until the executives as NBC decided that ratings were too low and canceled the program.
And so it goes.