ABC-7 TV reporter and talk show host Linda Carson covered Coretta Scott King during the 1960s civil rights movement, held a microphone near President George Bush at Emma E. Booker Elementary School on Sept. 11 when terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers, and has reported all over the country. And now, more than five decades after she donned a miniskirt to keep a job as weather “girl,” Carson, 78, is still brimming with story ideas and a contract that will keep her on the air until she is in her 80s. Carson, married to the late football coaching legend Bud Carson, has been honored with numerous awards, including an Associated Press Award for her death row interview of serial killer Danny Rolling.
“You won’t be on the air after age 30. That’s what my first TV boss told me. I’m still here and I laugh about it now. There was so much sexism back then. I once had a politician put a $20 bill down my shirt. The only way I could get a TV job was to wear a miniskirt. I did it, but I wouldn’t do it now.”
“Success comes from hard work, sometimes free work. I became a reporter after I told the news director that I’d go out and do a story, for free, of course.”
“If you can’t change it, let it go. I was a one-man band in 2006 and 2007, anchoring the morning news and reporting. I saw so many colleagues leaving in tears because they lost their jobs. Eventually I was the only reporter on the air. I just kept reporting and trying hard through management changes.”
“Just ask. Many of my exclusive interviews happened because I have an ‘aw-shucks’ Southern gal demeanor, and I asked for an interview. I wrote serial killer Danny Rollins and told him I wanted him to tell me how a woman could avoid being raped. He was the nicest guy you’d ever meet. And that was scary. Rollins was good-looking, friendly and he killed nine people. He told me that pure evil exists.”
“Be engaged and interested in other people. Be kind to people; try to put yourself in their shoes, even if they are a mass murderer.”
“You are always replaceable. This is my 12th station. I’ll be here when I’m 84 as long as I can do it. I’m good at what I do, but I’m replaceable.”
“The ‘game’ or the ‘show’ is everything. Be prepared. I was a sports reporter all over the country, including Los Angeles when Bud was coaching the Rams. I would study and know everything about the teams and the game plans for weeks in advance. Bud was all-game, all the time. I was driven. The two careers worked together.”
“Know who you are, not who people say you are. When the Rams had a losing season, Bud was fired. We would sometimes come to the games in a limo, with all these perks, and then just like that, it was all over.”
“Age is a true benefit. I can get away with saying anything. I talk about sex on Suncoast View. Very few subjects are off-limits. It’s a divine group, even when we disagree. We are all very close.”
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