NBC News Overnight
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NBC News Overnight

NBC News Overnight is a television news program on the NBC television network that aired weekday mornings from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. from July 5, 1982 to December 3, 1983 for 367 telecasts. The program was noteworthy because during this era a large majority of TV stations signed off between 1 and 3 a.m., with what few stations that operated 24 hours a day then either running syndicated shows and/or old movies.

Key personalities

NBC News Overnight was the brainchild of NBC News president Reuven Frank, who conceived the show as inexpensive overnight programming after Late Night with David Letterman. The time slot was one that had originally been offered to, and partially occupied by Tom Snyder's Tomorrow, before Snyder quit and ended that program in 1981 (and being replaced by Letterman in Snyder's former timeslot in February 1982). Frank had created the news program Weekend in 1974, and the two programs shared a similar, sometimes ironic outlook on the news. Weekend's co-hosts Lloyd Dobyns and Linda Ellerbee were reunited for the program initially, though Bill Schechner replaced Dobyns in November 1982. Herb Dudnick was the program's first executive producer and was succeeded by Deborah B. Johnson.

Humorous sign offs

During the show's early months the anchors were known for signing off in a humorous fashion. For example, during one installment Dobyns was given a very long, complex word to say and he stumbled over it; at the end of that broadcast the anchor took a moment to praise his writing staff, only to light-heartedly threaten to "take it all back" if they ever included such a word in his scripts again. Dobyns and then Ellerbee closed each show by saying, "And So It Goes." (which had been Dobyns' sign-off on Weekend). It became a bit of a catch-phrase and was the title of her first autobiographical book.

Critical response

NBC News Overnight was widely regarded as one of the smartest television news shows.[1] Appealing to an eclectic audience of college students, nursing mothers, and late shift workers, the show broke the conventional "lowest common denominator" style of most news programs and injected humor into an otherwise boring medium, while providing news analysis usually unseen on other major-network newscasts.[2] TIME named it one of the best programs of 1982, calling it "TV's wittiest, toughest, least snazzy news strip",[3] and, after the program left the air, one of the best programs of 1983.[4] The duPont Columbia Awards awards jury cited NBC News Overnight as "possibly the best written and most intelligent news program ever." [5]


NBC News Overnight was the inspiration for many news shows. From World News Now to Countdown with Keith Olbermann, many have attempted to imitate Overnight's signature style of combining hard news features with incisive commentary and light hearted stories.[6]

The Seven Network in Australia had a similar program with the same name (minus the NBC) airing overnights on weeknights between 1985 and 1989. Clips from NBC News programs would often be shown within the show.


Despite a loyal audience, the show's rather weak ratings, high production cost (the show cost $3.5 million to produce) and corresponding lack of ad revenue led to the show's demise after only a year and a half on the air. After news of this got out, some viewers sent in money help defray the costs of producing the program (all of which was returned). The 367th and final telecast of NBC News Overnight aired on December 3, 1983. The show's timeslot was replaced by either local programming or dead air (if a station had signed off after Late Night With David Letterman). NBC eventually resumed programming the 1:30 time slot when it debuted Later in 1988, which has been succeeded in the 21st century by Last Call and A Little Late.

NBC's next late night newscast, NBC Nightside, premiered in 1991; it would last until 1998; the network has not had a late night newscast since then.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.popmatters.com/column/nbc-news-overnight-and-so-it-went/
  2. ^ John J. O'Connor, "TV View; 'Overnight'-Low-Keyed News for Late, Late Viewing," New York Times, Sept. 12, 1982.
  3. ^ "The Best of 1982," TIME, Jan. 3, 1983.
  4. ^ "The Best of 1983," TIME, Jan. 2, 1984.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Television, 2nd Ed. 2004, Museum of Broadcast Communications, by Fitzroy Dearborn, Horace Newcomb (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton ISBN 1-57958-411-X
  6. ^ "Reuven Frank, RIP," TV Barn, Feb. 7, 2006.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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