Don Shelby

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Don Shelby
Shelby in 2014
Donald Gilbert Shelby

(1947-05-27) May 27, 1947 (age 76)
Occupation(s)Investigative journalist, news anchor
TelevisionWCCO-TV News anchor
ChildrenAshley, Lacy, Delta[1]
  • Lacy Shelby[2] (mother)
AwardsEmmy, Peabody, Columbia DuPont Citation, Scripps-Howard Award, Society of Professional Journalists Distinguished Service Award

Donald Gilbert Shelby (born May 27, 1947)[3] is a retired American journalist who was a news anchor on WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota for much of his career. He is regarded as an experienced investigative journalist, as his work has earned two Peabody awards and three Emmy Awards.[3][1][4] He also has won the other three top journalism awards of the United States, including the Columbia DuPont Citation, the Scripps-Howard Award and the Society of Professional Journalists Distinguished Service Award.[3]

Early life[edit]

Shelby was born and raised in Royerton, Indiana, near Muncie.[1][5] He was a high school basketball standout.[5] He attended the University of Cincinnati for two years, but left to enlist in the United States Air Force.[5][6] He met his wife, Barbara, when he was stationed at Boling Air Force base in Washington, D.C., where Barbara worked as a secretary.[1][5] Shelby was honorably discharged in 1972 after serving four years.[5] He worked in Charleston, South Carolina and Houston, Texas before arriving in Minneapolis.[5]


Shelby joined WCCO-TV in the summer of 1978 as a news reporter.[5] After continued work as a reporter, Shelby began assuming anchor responsibilities in greater capacity, eventually assuming the primary anchor chair from Dave Moore. Shelby was the chief architect behind WCCO's "I-Team" segment, which spotlighted current issues, both local and on a larger world scale, with rigorous investigative journalism. After suffering a mild stroke in early 2004, Shelby returned to news reading duties by the end of that year. In 2009, Shelby was reported to make US$1 Million, before taking a 10% pay cut in 2010 to help WCCO trim costs.[6] Shelby retired from television after his final WCCO-TV newscast on November 22, 2010.[7][5] During a Minnesota-themed segment of The Late Show with David Letterman, the camera cut to the WCCO newsroom. Don Shelby turned to WCCO co-anchor Amelia Santaniello and said, "Amelia, I have a gopher in my pants and his name is Carlos."[8]

"Good To Know"[edit]

In February 2006, Shelby began hosting a series of video essay segments entitled "In The Know" (later renamed "Good To Know"), during the station's 10:00 newscast.[9] These segments sometimes touched on political, religious and other topics, usually with the same pointed journalistic style of Shelby's earlier "I-Team" efforts.

WCCO-AM radio[edit]

From 2000 through 2009, Shelby undertook a dual responsibility of hosting an afternoon radio show on WCCO (AM) which ended at 6:00, immediately after which he anchored the TV newscast (also simulcast on radio). He partnered on the radio with WCCO radio news anchor Jeff McKinney. In June 2009, Monday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya took over the 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time slot, with Shelby moving to the early afternoon drive, then sharing the microphone with Michelle from 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.[10][11] Shelby's final radio show took place on December 11, 2009.[12][13]

Community work[edit]

Shelby has played an active role in the preservation and maintenance of the Mississippi River. Through his WCCO-TV segment entitled "Project Energy", Shelby has investigated energy conservation, renewable energy, and alternative fuels.[14] Shelby has also given his time as an on-air representative for a number of pledge drives on behalf of the local PBS station TPT (KTCA), as well as narrated the third installment of "Lost Twin Cities", a TPT produced documentary. He appeared in "America Unearthed".[15]

Stage Acting[edit]

Don appeared in the Lab Theater's production of Rocky Horror, appearing with numerous Guthrie actors in a performance of 8 at the Varsity Theater in 2011.[16] He was a featured actor in Safe at Home at the Mixed Blood Theatre.[16] He has performed the character of Mark Twain more than 200 times, in shows at performing arts centers throughout the state of Minnesota.[16] He also has performed as Mark Twain in New Orleans and aboard the Delta Queen Riverboat on the Mississippi River in St. Louis.[16] In November 2022, Shelby acted in “Love Letters” with Nancy Nelson at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.[17]


  • Emmy (2010 - Best Anchor, 2021 - Narrator)[18][19]
  • Peabody (1984[20] and 1997[21])
  • Columbia DuPont Citation
  • Scripps-Howard Award
  • Society of Professional Journalists Distinguished Service Award
  • Distinguished Minnesotan (2009)[22]

Personal life[edit]

Known to many in the Minnesota community as a "jack-of-all-trades," Shelby has many hobbies, including, among other things, beekeeping. Shelby has been an enthusiastic fan of women's basketball. He is a resident of Excelsior, Minnesota, in a farmhouse certified LEED Platinum.[23][24][25]


His first book, The Season Never Ends: Wins, Losses, and the Wisdom of the Game, was published on August 30, 2011. It features a foreword by former University of Minnesota men's basketball head coach Tubby Smith and endorsements from NBA analyst Ahmad Rashad and author Will Weaver.


Shelby had two debilitating strokes in 2004, from which he recovered while he was still in his broadcasting career.[26][27] He had another stroke in 2021.[28] In 2016, Shelby shared his story of his recovery from alcohol addiction and reported being 36 years sober since 1980.[29]

Shelby Knot[edit]

Shelby, in his time on television, popularized the Pratt necktie knot, to the extent that it is sometimes referred to as the "Shelby Knot" or "Pratt-Shelby." The knot was created by Jerry Pratt, an employee of the US Chamber of Commerce, who taught it to Shelby in 1986.[30][31] The knot was considered at the time to be "the first new knot for men in over 50 years" by the New York Times. It is speculated that the knot had been in use for a time, but the knot simply had not been documented until Don Shelby made it famous by the help of Jerry Pratt and the Minneapolis clothier Kingford Bavender.[30][31] Kingford Bavender is considered to have coined the term the "Shelby" knot.[32]

In honor of the history of the Shelby Knot and Don Shelby, a bespoke clothier company by the name of King Brothers Clothiers partnered with Mr. Shelby and launched the Shelby Knot Collection of ties in the spring of 2013. Together, Don Shelby and King Brothers Clothiers, selected the designs of the ties that reflected Don's tastes.[32]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kendrick, Julie - Renaissance man. Minnesota Good Age, June 1, 2017
  2. ^ Don Shelby Through The Years. CBS News, November 1, 2010
  3. ^ a b c "Bio: Don Shelby". WCCO. Archived from the original on 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  4. ^ WCCO-TV’s Don Shelby awarded ‘best anchor’ regional Emmy. Twin Pioneer Press, September 25, 2010
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Gustafson, Amy Carlson - Don Shelby prepares to sign off on 32-year career at WCCO-TV. Twin Pioneer Press, November 13, 2010
  6. ^ a b Gihring, Tim - The Last Don. Minnesota Monthly, October 22, 2009
  7. ^ "Recap: Don Shelby's Final Newscast". ?. WCCO. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  8. ^ A Look At Minnesotans' Long History On Letterman. CBS News, May 20, 2015
  9. ^ Don Shelby is Out Standing in His Field. Twin Cities Business, October 11, 2010
  10. ^ Gustafson, Amy Carlson - Michele Tafoya gets WCCO-AM drive-time slot. Pioneer Press, April 19, 2009
  11. ^ "Bio: Michele Tafoya". Personalities. WCCO-AM. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  12. ^ Gustafson, Amy Carlson - After nine years of polite conversation, Don Shelby will switch off his WCCO radio mic today. Twin Pioneer Press, December 6, 2009
  13. ^ Don Shelby signs off on WCCO-AM radio. Twin Pioneer Press, December 11, 2009
  14. ^ "University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment Annual Research Symposium". World Changing Twin Cities. Archived from the original on 2011-05-07. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  15. ^ Pratt, Anna (March 19, 2022) "A real-life 'Da Vinci Code'", Star Tribune. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d Don Shelby and Nancy Nelson to Perform LOVE LETTERS at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters This November. Broadway World Minneapolis.St, Paul, October 6,2022
  17. ^ Preston Rohan - This just in: Don Shelby and Nancy Nelson exchange 'Love Letters' onstage. Star Tribune, November 1, 2022
  18. ^ WCCO-TV’s Don Shelby awarded ‘best anchor’ regional Emmy. Pioneer Press, September 25, 2010
  19. ^ The 2021 UPPER MIDWEST EMMY® AWARDS NOMINEES & RECIPIENTS. National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2021 Lost Twin Cities 5 Twin Cities PBS Multiple, including Don Shelby, Narrator
  20. ^ Peabody Awards Winner profile 1983 Local - I-Team Ambulances Peabody Awards Web site (viewed September 5, 2023)
  21. ^ Peabody Awards Winner profile 1996 Local - One to One: Mentoring. Peabody Awards Web site (viewed September 5, 2023)
  22. ^ WCCO news anchor Don Shelby to receive 2009 Distinguished Minnesotan Award. Bemidji State University, 2009
  23. ^ "Don Shelby Gets Energy Efficient In His Own Home". March 1, 2012 – via WCCO-TV.
  24. ^ Home Green Home: Don Shelby’s sustainable house makes a statement. Minnesota Monthly, march 14, 2012
  25. ^ Hewett, Chris - 8 years after building his green dream home, Don Shelby strives to go even greener. Star Tribune, October 24, 2020
  26. ^ Burger, Kevyn - Get a hobby! Former WCCO anchor Don Shelby shows us why older people need one – or five. Star Tribune, July 21, 2021
  27. ^ Justin, Neal - Shelby, ready to fade to black, ponders life out of 'CCO spotlight. Star Tribune, November 14, 2010
  28. ^ Justin, Neal - How former WCCO anchor Don Shelby learned to speak again Star Tribune, March 12, 2022
  29. ^ David, Rebecca - Don Shelby Shares His Recovery From Alcohol With St. Cloud Alano Society, September 16, 2016
  30. ^ a b "Taking a Tip from a Dapper Fan, Anchorman Don Shelby Makes News with the Knot in His Necktie". People. October 2, 1989. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  31. ^ a b Schmidt, William E. (August 30, 1989). "As Neckwear Goes, This Knot's News". The New York Times – via
  32. ^ a b "King Brothers and Don Shelby: Tied to a Knot". Twin Cities Business. June 2, 2013.

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