He never touched paintbrush to canvas, or molded a lump of clay in his hands. He never tried to bend and mold steel to his will, but just because of the way he lived his life, and did his work, Bill Hall was an artist.
Hall, who died yesterday, was the longtime weatherman at WSMV-TV in Nashville. I only worked with him for 5 years, but it was a time I will never forget.
If you didn’t live in Nashville in the early 1980s, then you probably never heard of Bill Hall. If you did live back there, and back then, Bill Hall was kin. He was a member of the family, a treasured friend invited into the homes of tens of thousands of Tennesseans every night.
They loved Bill because he was one of them. One of the most highly rated newscasts during Bill’s tenure was the night he asked viewers how to get a mouse out of his house. His ability to connect through his gentle style and easy humor, made the outpouring of affection at the news of his passing heartwarming, yet totally unsurprising. He was adored.
I used to sit next to Bill, and my co-anchor Dan Miller on the set every night, as a young news anchor learning my craft. They made it seem so easy. It wasn’t. Like any art form, broadcasting always looks simple in the hands of the gifted. The subtleties of performance, and miracle of unselfconscious communication are elusive to most, but not to Dan, and not to Bill. Both of them are gone now, but the lessons they taught me by example, served me well as a newscaster and they still serve me to this day.
Art at its best, is the purest form of connection. It makes you feel, it makes you think, and it leaves you richer for the experience. Bill connected with his audience in a way that somehow left them feeling more at home, even in their own homes.
This is a blog about art, creativity, and inspiration. Bill was certainly creative, and to me, and many, many others he was inspirational. Was he an artist? Well, if great art helps define our humanity, why can’t the humanity with which you live your life rise to the level of art? I think it can, partly because Bill Hall was my friend.