Ellie Dylan

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Ellie Dylan
Born: (1952-09-08) September 8, 1952 (age 65) Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S
Residence: New York City, New York, U.S
Occupation: Founder, Sky U and Skyshapers Foundation
Children: Sky Dylan-Robbins
Web Site: http://www.skyu.tv

Ellie Dylan (born Elinor Angel Helman September 8, 1952) is currently the President and Founder of The Skyshapers Foundation (dba Skyshapers University) and the CEO, President and Founder of SKY U, LLC. Both Companies are involved with motivating children to excel.

Dylan began her career in radio as a college disc jockey and rose to become ‘the most listened to female disc jockey in the United States’ on NBC Radio:[1] First, by taking her 7:00pm to midnight time shift on WMAQ Radio from 17th place in the ratings to the number-one rated show in Chicago;[2] Then, as the first female to do an afternoon drive shift on AM Radio in a major market. Dylan became the first woman to hold a morning drive time position on AM Radio in a major market at WNBC Radio in New York City.[3]

Dylan next moved to television as the Host and Producer of “You!,” a weekly television series on WABC-TV in New York City. Her program grew into a solid ratings success following Dylan’s initial telecast, which was nominated for three Emmy Awards.[4] Her “You!” show went on to win an Emmy Award and became number one in the ratings.[5]

Dylan later established Skyshapers University and Sky U to develop and produce multimedia programs to motivate elementary school-age children to excel. Over 7.5 million children and more than 10,000 schools across America have participated in Skyshapers University programs.[6]

Early life[edit]

Ellie Dylan was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but spent her formative years in Columbus, GA. She later explained that growing up in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement had a profound impact on her life.[7]

Dylan left Georgia to attend Tulane University in New Orleans and spent her junior year abroad at the University of London.[7] Returning to New Orleans, Dylan graduated with honors, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, from Tulane and was accepted by Tulane’s Law School.[7]

Dylan relates that during those college years, she experienced two life-changing events which shaped her future. The first occurred when her freshman English professor gave Dylan an “F” on a major paper she had written, explaining that she would continue to fail Dylan until she worked at her full potential. (This professor later bestowed the honor of Phi Beta Kappa on Dylan upon her graduation in the top percentile of her class at Tulane in 1974.)

During her college years, Dylan was also a disc jockey on WTUL, the Tulane campus radio station,[8] where she played music from The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, etc. and began to discover the power of the media to create change.

Dylan relates that her passion for radio became such that on every college vacation she attempted to get a job at a “real radio station” in her hometown, only to be told time after time “Women are not on the radio.”

Finally, the summer before she was to begin law school, Dylan was hired to do radio shows on WWRH-FM and WPNX-AM in her hometown.[8] There she posed pointed questions to the likes of David Duke, Grand Dragon of the KKK., and Lester Maddox, controversial Georgia Governor, who is reported to have walked off her show. Thereafter, a local radio station employee told Dylan “You’ll never make it in radio. Because you’re different.”[7]

Soon after, Dylan heard about a nationwide talent search for ‘The Queen of Country Music’ from WMAQ Radio (the NBC-owned Chicago radio station, which covers 38 states and Canada). Dylan sent in a three-minute biographical tape backed by Earl Scruggs banjo picking. Again, Dylan was “different” and won the talent search.[9]

Career and Success[edit]

Radio (1975-78)[edit]

In 1975, Dylan moved to Chicago and accepted the job as ‘The Queen of Country Music’ at WMAQ Radio, a hefty salary, and a new surname [7] (after her favorite musician, Bob Dylan).[10] By June of that year, Dylan was on the cover of the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, which called her “82 pounds and 50,000 watts of down-home disc jockey.” In her two years at WMAQ, Dylan turned her 7:00pm to midnight shift into the number-one rated music show in Chicago.[2] She then became the first woman to do an afternoon drive shift on AM radio in a major market, and doubled the ratings in the 3-7pm slot.[8]

By September, 1977, Dylan joined WNBC, NBC’s flagship radio station in New York, as the first woman to hold a morning drive time shift on AM Radio in a major market.[10] There, she replaced radio host, Don Imus. Although Imus had a loyal following, Dylan in her first rating book increased WNBC’s morning audience and became the most listened-to female disc jockey in the United States.[11] It didn't last though, as the switch to a more streamlined format was short-lived and Ellie was gone from WNBC within a few months.

Television (1978-85)[edit]

But Dylan itched to broaden her horizons and set her sights on television, explaining that she wanted to “create a kind of ‘reality show’ that is honest, clear, and alive.”[4]

On Saturday, September 30, 1978, Ellie Dylan’s “You!” show premiered on WABC-TV in New York and was subsequently nominated for three Emmy Awards. Called “one of the best rating increase stories ever” by WABC-TV, in February 1979, Ellie Dylan’s “You!” show became number one in the ratings and “the hottest show in New York television” and won an Emmy Award.[12]

By 1980, Dylan also began hosting and producing a series of one-hour “Ellie Dylan Specials” in her first departure from the “You!” format.[4] Stints on other television programs followed: “Kids are People, Too,” “The Love Report”[13] and later, “The Today Show.”

Multimedia Education (1985-Present)[edit]

Drawing from her past when she was discouraged from becoming a radio disc jockey and then a television host/producer, only to succeed at both, Dylan next set her sights on developing entertainment to motivate children.[14]

In 1986, Dylan started Skyshapers, Inc., a company to produce motivational entertainment products and programs for children.[15] By August 1988, Dylan had also formed a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Skyshapers Foundation to develop and distribute children’s motivational programs and scholarships.[16][17] Along with creating 22 original cartoon characters and an original rock music soundtrack, Dylan put together an advisory board and forged alliances with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a program that would motivate children by giving them “action steps” to reach their dreams.[14]

Government Partnerships[edit]

After seven years of market research and focus groups with children, the Skyshapers Foundation program was endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Antonia Novello. It was federally funded and distributed in 20 percent of elementary schools in America, reaching more than 10,000 schools and 7.5 million children.[6] It became one of the largest programs of its kind the Public Health Service has ever run in American schools.[18]

Over 14 million pieces of SKYSHAPERS materials were distributed to fulfill orders from 10,000 public and private elementary schools, and thousands of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, Scout Troops, churches and synagogue youth groups in the United States.[19] Inspired by the successful response to the Skyshapers Program, Dylan and her team began developing Skyshapers Textbooks and Teacher Editions; the first of which was The Sky Quest Series.

In 1999, Skyshapers became an official vendor for Textbooks and Teachers’ Editions for the New York City Board of Education[20] and Dylan began developing and delivering programs for the New York City School System,[21] the largest in America with over 1 million students in more than 1,400 schools.[22] In 2003, Dylan started SKY U, L.L.C., to serve as the production entity for the marketing and distribution of Skyshapers University products and programs.[23]

Quest For Excellence[edit]

In 2005, Dylan began The SKY U Quest For Excellence initiative in NYC schools, with Sky U and Skyshapers University producing and delivering SKY U Quest For Excellence Live Events for students, Faculty Training Seminars, SKY U Tracker Organizer Systems, SKY U Activity Sets, SKY U Incentive Cards, and Leaders’ Curriculum Sets.[24]

Upcoming Projects[edit]

Dylan plans to continue The Sky U Quest For Excellence initiative in NYC schools and in other school systems across America.[6]


SKYSHAPERS University programs are noted for their colorful cartoon characters and “hip,” positive approach.[6] They employ an intergalactic space theme with upbeat, contemporary music and child-friendly language. As Dylan puts it, “I realized that after ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rogers,’ there is really nothing for the next age group that entertains yet educates. There is truly a void in hip, solid entertainment with a positive lifestyle message…that gives children action steps, rather than a slogan, to achieve excellence and reach their dreams.”[14]


  1. ^ (January 18, 1978) WNBC Radio News Release / (October/November 1977) Arbitron Rating
  2. ^ a b (September 19, 1975) NBC InterDepartment Correspondence; July/August 1975 Arbitron Ratings
  3. ^ (1977) WNBC Radio News Release
  4. ^ a b c (February 1980) WABC-TV Biography
  5. ^ (February 1979) WABC-TV / Nielsen Ratings Report
  6. ^ a b c d (November 9, 1992) Nick Chiles, “Teaching Kids The Sky’s No Limit,” New York Newsday
  7. ^ a b c d e (June 22, 1975) Terry, Clifford, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine Cover Story
  8. ^ a b c (1977) WNBC Radio New Release
  9. ^ Malcolm N. Carter, Not Another Imus
  10. ^ a b Blog Malcolm N. Carter, Not Another Imus
  11. ^ (January 18, 1978) WNBC Radio Press Release
  12. ^ (February 1979) WABC-TV Ratings Success
  13. ^ Yahoo! TV
  14. ^ a b c (October 11, 1992) AP Wire Service Story
  15. ^ Manta.com
  16. ^ (August 15, 1988) State of Delaware Certificate of Incorporation
  17. ^ (June 2, 1995) Department of the Treasury Notice/501(c)(3) status
  18. ^ (March 19, 2004) Dr. Lewis Eigen, CEO, Social and Health Services Letter
  19. ^ (November 22, 1994) Dr. Lewis Eigen, CEO, Social and Health Services Letter
  20. ^ (June 23, 1999) Award of Contract, Board of Education of The City of New York
  21. ^ (November 20, 1998) Board of Education of The City of New York, Community School District 26, Community Superintendent Letter and (January 19, 1999) Board of Education of The City of New York, Director of Student Guidance Services Letter
  22. ^ (2007) New York City Department of Education Schools.nyc.gov
  23. ^ (February 13, 2008) SKY U, L.L.C. State of New York Formation Documents
  24. ^ (September 6, 2005) New York City Department of Education Purchase Order


  • (June 22, 1975) Terry, Clifford, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine Cover Story
  • (February 1980) WABC-TV Biography
  • (October 11, 1992) AP Wire Service Story
  • (November 9, 1992) Nick Chiles, “Teaching Kids The Sky’s No Limit,” New York Newsday
  • (September 1, 2007) Malcolm N. Carter, Associated Press Writer, Not Another Imus Blog