TV Talk
with Television Anchor Ben Hill

  • WTHR anchor Ben Hill sits at his anchor desk as he prepares for the show. Submitted Photo

    “I was pretty young. I am an only child so, and my parents are both avid news viewers and we would grow up watching “NBC Nightly News” with Tom Brockaw. And I just thought it was fascinating how journalists get to travel all over the world, report the news, and growing up as an only child it’s like we would just gather in front of the TV. I was with the adults, so I just really took in the news. Even when I was at school, I’d always want to talk about current events and what was happening in the world, rather than learning math. I always thought these were the things I would use later in my life. I also have had a passion for reading and writing and telling stories and getting to meet people that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet.” 

  • “So, I came from Fox News Station in South Carolina where I was also a morning anchor. In television, you work under contracts, typically when you are an anchor or reporter, which usually are for two to five years. So when you come close to an end of a term, you see if you are seeking growth in your career and if you would like a new challenge. My agent, actually, called and said there was this position here that he’d thought I would be interested in because this station is such a powerhouse and produces a lot of great content. And so, we set up an interview. It was actually the first time I had been to Indy in a few years. We started talking and they told me about their vision about what they wanted the newscast to be and I told them what I thought I could offer. And the rest is history,”Hill said.

    Photo by Alina Husain 

  • When speaking about what it has been like to be watched on TV every morning, Hill said, “I’m not going to lie, it’s a little odd because obviously, they can see you but you can’t see them. But you know, you’re communicating with them in a weird way and that’s why it’s really great to get out in the community and get to meet a lot of the viewers. A lot of (the) time now with social media, they’ll reach out to you on Twitter or Facebook and let you know they are watching and give you feedback on a particular story you reported on. But it is different and I think people just naturally assume because you are on television in front of hundreds of people that you would just be this phenomenal public speaker. But it’s odd cause when you’re sitting in front of the camera and a small floor crew opposed to a crowd of hundreds of people you can’t see their immediate reaction to what you said. When you’re on television you’re hoping you are doing a great job and they are receiving it well.

    While Hill is unable to see viewers as he is filming his news broadcast, he said he enjoys the opportunity to go out into the community and talk to citizens.

    “Oh absolutely (I have met community members). And usually that’s a great thing, especially if they are a fan of yours because you can get feedback and it’s nice to know who you are talking to. Obviously, it would be nearly impossible to meet all our viewers. It’s interesting that meeting a viewer can sometimes even change how you deliver the news or what you chose to report on. Like if they want to hear more about city crime or more about the school systems in Carmel, we can get that feedback and kind of adapt. You don’t want to be so set in your ways that you can’t hear what people want covered,” Hill said. 

    Photo by Alina Husain

  • “(TV) influences me a lot actually. You can’t ever leave the station. I’m always Ben Hill from Channel 13; that never goes away. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. If I’m mowing the grass or out at Walmart picking up groceries, it never changes. It’s funny that if I go out in a suit and tie downtown and no one would know who I am. It’s usually a Saturday morning at 8 a.m. and I have a hat on and I haven’t shaved and someone comes up to me like, “oh, you’re Ben Hill from Channel 13.” And you always have to have this awareness that people are watching and they may know who you are and just to always have proper decorum, Hill said. 

    Photo by Alina Husain

  •  Hill interviews an officer of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department as part of a segment of the news broadcast. Hill frequently conducts interviews as a part of his job at WTHR. Submitted Photo

    While Hill enjoys many aspects of being on TV, his favorite, Hill said, “honestly, it is getting to tell people stories. Getting to share people’s stories. Getting to really have a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the community and getting to share that with others. The industry has changed a lot. It’s much more a two-sided conversation now where we can, especially with social media, communicate with our viewers and find out what they are wanting to be heard. The TV is really just the gateway aspect to communicating with our audience. Being on TV is a small aspect of my day, which is kind of odd because it’s really the one thing people connect me to. A lot of my day, as boring as it may sound, is writing, and reading. People just see the end product of what we spend hours or days working on.

  • Hill sits at a desk similar to the one pictured above each morning on the WTHR set. However, Hill notes that the life of an anchor behind one of these desks is not as glamorous as some perceive it to be.

    Hill said, “(Being on TV has) not necessarily (changed me) and I hope it doesn’t for a lot of people. If you take for example the movie “Anchorman,” there is sometimes a negative connotation with being an anchorman. Tom Brockaw, himself, actually said the biggest oxymoron in America is a humble anchorman.  A lot of people just assume you’re on television, you get recognized, you get paid millions of dollars and just ride around in these fancy cars and go to awesome parties. But there is a lot more to it. It seems a lot more glamorous than it really is. Sometimes the work is without a suit and tie, rolling up your sleeves and working on a story. I really hope it hasn’t changed me.  But of course, when you become this kind of public figure, you have to adjust to circumstances. You can’t just be like, “Oh sorry I can’t answer your question, I’m on the air.” Ultimately you are always kind of on the air and on the spot.” 

    Photo by Alina Husain

  • In regards to his journalistic aspirations, Hill said, “Hopefully to keep growing and get better. I mean, honestly, you can’t ever get stagnant in this industry. This industry, in the past five years, has changed more in my mind than in the past 50. It’s rapid fire. I mean sometimes we get beat on a story, but they get the facts wrong. The old rules of journalism still apply. That’s one of the things that we do that I am a proud of. But the industry is ever evolving, so we have to continually adapt. 

    Photo by Alina Husain