FOR A TASTE OF TV, CIRCA 1948... Following the toe-in-water probings of cyberspace by journalists such as Michael Kinsley, former NBC news-hound Linda Ellerbee is taking to the World Wide Web with her new talk show, Encarta on the Record (http://www.microsoft.com/encarta). Kicking off with a live cybercast on Feb. 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET, the interview program offers several levels of sophistication, from low-tech written transcripts to snazzy live photo updates and an audio feed. Users can submit questions, participate in polls, and access background material. "It's the closest thing to television on the Internet," says Ellerbee, 51, who now produces the Nickelodeon kids' TV show Nick News.
What brings you to the Net?
You can look at this project as a combination of the familiar and the new. We're using what's familiar—a talk show, me—to take things to a new door with the Internet. It's not our goal to push the technical envelope, but to make this as accessible as possible.
How big an audience do you expect?
Nobody thinks this is going to get better ratings than Oprah
. The Net is where TV was in the late '40s. In 1948 there were 2 million television sets in this country. Today there are 96 million.
Do you go online yourself?
Yes, I frequent an AOL chat group of breast cancer survivors. By exchanging our experiences, we are able to be more informed. I also found my son a golden retriever through the Net, but unlike the dog of a friend of mine, he doesn't have his own home page.