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Published: Monday, 1/20/2003

Thill is back on air today as WTOL anchor

In the television news business, the saying goes something like this:

You don't want to be the person who replaces a legend. It's better to be the person who replaces the person who replaced a legend.

Got that? Former WTOL-TV, Channel 11, news anchor Bill Hormann can relate. He replaced a local legend, Jeff Heitz, and was fired 22 months later.

Today, we'll be introduced -- or reintroduced, depending on how long you've watched WTOL newscasts -- to Hormann's replacement. He is Terry Thill, who returns to WTOL after an absence of more than 17 years. From 1981 to 1985, he anchored the station's noon newscast and served as a reporter for the Heitz-anchored 6 p.m. newscast. (Heitz, now retired, anchored the station's evening newscasts from 1974 until Jan. 15, 2001.)

Terry Thill: Experienced. Terry Thill: Experienced.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

Thill, 50, most recently spent more than eight years at Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, WLWT, where he served as a weekend anchor. (His on-air name in Cincinnati was “Terry Daniels.” A consultant suggested the name change. In Toledo, he'll revert to Thill, which, he said, is “my `real' name.”)

Thill's first TV job was at KELO, in his hometown of Sioux Falls, S.D. He left there in 1981 for WTOL. He made career stops in Grand Rapids, Mich., Raleigh, and Boise before returning to Ohio in 1994.

What's the biggest difference between the Terry Thill of the early 1980s and the Terry Thill of 2003? “Experience,” he said. “I picked up valuable knowledge from every city and part of the country I worked in. I believe a good anchor/reporter has to know at least a little bit about a whole lot.”

While in Cincinnati, he gained network-level experience. He was a regular contributor to NBC's News Channel, the service that feeds to all NBC stations around the country. Among his assignments: The Iowa septuplets; the school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark.; the 2000 Presidential election; and the 2001 terrorist attacks. “I've done `live' reports for stations in New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, and every place in between,” he said.

Thill describes his delivery as “professional” and said that he's looking forward to sharing the anchor desk at 6 and 11 p.m. with Chrys Peterson.

Peterson, who started at WTOL in 1994, said: “Certainly, it takes time to develop a co-anchor partnership and rhythm on the air, but I think Terry and I will complement each other. We are very different in our delivery and style, but in ways I think will be complementary to each other.”

They'll have only 10 days to mesh before their first major test. The next four-week ratings period begins on Jan. 30.

RADIO RATINGS: Results of Arbitron's fall survey (Sept. 19 to Dec. 11) are expected to arrive at local radio stations within the next week. Preliminary numbers suggest that WKKO-FM (99.9) has strengthened its grip on No. 1.



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