LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
In Georgia, Bobby Ellerbee is a new and unlikely graduate. He took 40 years to get his degree from the University of Georgia. He joins us now from his home, not far from Athens. Thank you for being with us, Mr. Ellerbee.
BOBBY ELLERBEE: Oh, thank you, Linda. It's a pleasure.
WERTHEIMER: Now let me just start by saying this is a kind of perennial story, the older person who goes back to finish the studies they had to set aside. Usually, it's something like a war or a family tragedy that takes people on detour. And in your case, you left for a successful career. And by all accounts, you did just fine and had lots of fun without getting a degree.
ELLERBEE: Well, I started in radio when I was 16 years old because (laughter) my next-door neighbor owned a radio station, and that was (laughter) that was a good thing. And, you know, for 30 years I did live shows every day. And about - in 1987, I came off the air and fell back on something I had always enjoyed, which was writing and producing commercials, and rode that wave the rest of the way.
WERTHEIMER: You made a bit of money doing voiceovers, right?
WERTHEIMER: You are the international voice of Johnnie Walker, the Scotch whiskey.
ELLERBEE: Right, yes.
WERTHEIMER: You had many adventures, hung out with Eartha Kitt and Etta James for your birthday party.
ELLERBEE: Oh, yes. That was quite a night. Been a lot of those along the way.
WERTHEIMER: It sounds like you had a very nice life, a very nice and interesting life. So why did you decide you wanted to go back to college?
ELLERBEE: My mom and dad live here in Georgia and were getting a little older and needed some help, and I came back about 2006. And not long ago, the state of Georgia passed a law that said if you're over 62, you can go back to college free.
WERTHEIMER: Hey. Now, you provide the voice of the sheriff on the adult cartoon "Squidbillies."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SQUIDBILLIES")
ELLERBEE: (As Sheriff) Take a ride with me. Come on, I need to talk to you.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) All right. Shotgun.
ELLERBEE: (As Sheriff) You heard him, Vinnie. Get on in there.
WERTHEIMER: It's about a family of squid who live in the (laughter) hills of North Georgia.
ELLERBEE: Right, right.
WERTHEIMER: Very popular program with your fellow undergrads, I bet you.
ELLERBEE: It is. Our biggest demographic is young males from 18 to 24, 32. And we sure have a lot of them at the University of Georgia, I'll tell you that.
WERTHEIMER: So did you turn a few heads with your voice sounding like the sheriff?
ELLERBEE: I've been known to do that. And I've been online for computer help and the guy said, hey, aren't you the sheriff from "Squidbillies"?
WERTHEIMER: And you say, no, but I sound a lot like him.
ELLERBEE: (Laughter) No, I say, yes I am. How do you like the show?
WERTHEIMER: Did it affect your life on campus to be the sheriff?
ELLERBEE: In a way, yeah. The character is very, very lovable. He's the only one on the show that is. And it makes a connection with me. You know, I'm 65 and my, you know, cohorts there in Georgia are in their early 20s. But as soon as we kind of start to laugh about some of things we do on the show, we're all 20, you know?
WERTHEIMER: Bobby Ellerbee, who plays the sheriff on the cartoon "Squidbillies." He is a recent college graduate. Thank you very much, and congratulations.
ELLERBEE: Thank you very much, Linda. I know my dad would be very proud.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SQUIDBILLIES")
BILLY SHAVER: (Singing) My dreams are all dead and buried. Sometimes I wish the sun would just explode. When God comes and calls me to his kingdom, I'll take all you...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) ...My dreams are all dead and buried.
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