Television and Radio: Anchor Away

Local boy Bill Hemmer sets sail in the seas of CNN

Oct 13, 2004 at 2:06 pm
Elder grad Bill Hemmer jumped from local sportscaster to national anchor with relative ease

Elder High class of '83 and Miami University class of '87, Bill Hemmer moved from reporting sports for WCPO-TV to the world and elsewhere. Recently, the co-host of CNN's American Morning phoned CityBeat from New York City.

CityBeat: This is a fun time to be in the TV news business, isn't it?

Bill Hemmer: We're kicking it. This is election season. We're off and running. It really picked up during the Democratic convention in Boston. This is high season for us.

CB: From where you're sitting, is this the most important election of our lifetime?

BH: Everybody says that it's the most important election of a lifetime or of a generation or that anyone can remember. I tend to think the elections of 1968 and '72 had great significance. The election of 1980 did as well.

I think the times in which we live are very serious. But having said that, I think to make a blanket statement that it's the most important election of a lifetime — perhaps it is, and perhaps it's a bit of an overstatement. I've always thought that it's a dangerous thing when people make predictions in the news business, in this climate, because you're never sure what's around the next corner.

CB: You used to travel a lot in your reporting days. Is it tough spending so much time in the studio?

BH: I love to travel. I love to hit the road. It's the best way to really understand the story. But, I get the best of both worlds on this job. I was in Boston for the (Democratic) convention, back here in New York City for the Republican convention, out in Michigan for two days for an interview with John Kerry. I was on the road for a week during the Reagan funeral and in Baghdad back in January. When the big stories hit, I still get the opportunity to go out.

CB: Do you miss sportscasting?

BH: I think sports gave me a great resource to have the ability to adlib, which is something we need to do on this job daily. Sports teach a person in very direct terms how to think, talk and match it to the video that's on the screen. I think I was able to learn a little bit of that during my days there. Sports anchors do it so well. I have the ability now to pick and choose which events I want to pay attention to. I'm still a big football fan, a big Cincinnati Bengals fan. So instead of having to blanket the country and focus on everything, I can just follow my team.

CB: When you stopped by the Reds broadcast booth for an inning during the series with the New York Mets, Marty Brenneman later joked to listeners "(Bill Hemmer) is the kind of guy you want to give just a little bit of grief to."

BH: Apparently he called me a "vagrant" or a "bum," too (laughs). I showed up with a baseball hat and flip-flops.

CB: You worked at 97X at one point. How did that come about?

BH: My second job. My senior year, I believe it was fall semester. I worked overnights on the weekend. And I knew next to nothing about Alternative Rock music at the time. All my friends told me what music I should play.

CB: Did you become a fan of alternative music?

BH: Kinda sorta. But I'm pretty much old school. I like lyrics more so than music. I'm a word guy. I like Springsteen and Dylan. I like Jack Johnson; I've been listening to him a lot.

CB: Do you miss Cincinnati, now that you've seen the lights of Atlanta and New York City?

BH: Here's how I talk about Cincinnati: It is such a wonderful place to raise a family because the suburbs give you so many options for schools and neighborhoods, both in Cincinnati and in Kentucky. ©