Ted Hall is a TV news anchor in Atlanta who used to be in Knoxville. But it’s not his career or awards that have made him well known. It’s the attention he gives a son who’s had an unusual cancer and his efforts to raise awareness of cancer-support groups.
Hall, morning anchor at 11Alive at WXIA, left WBIR-TV Channel 10 as evening anchor in 2006. Both stations are owned by the Gannett Co.
His youngest son, Keaton, 16, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, oliodendroglioma, around the time Hall went to Atlanta. Keaton had surgery then and again in May when a cancerous tumor came back.
“He’s doing really well,” Hall said about his son in a phone interview on May 20. “He lay down for a whole week. And then on day eight, he woke up and wanted to take a walk. He didn’t want me to go with him. I hung back and watched him,” he said.
While Keaton rested most of that day after the walk, his activity has stepped up daily since, Hall said. The prognosis is good.
“They feel they got the entire tumor out this time around. There are two things we don’t know — will it grow back and whether getting the tumor out will stop seizures,” Hall said.
The seizures have prevented Keaton from driving alone, and any parent with a teenager knows how important driving is to that age group.
“He’s been very active, had the lead in a school play and plays guitar in the school’s praise band,” Hall said.
Hall and his wife, Lesa, have two other children, Colby, 23, who just went to Toronto, Canada, to study at a special affects school, learning to make objects like zombies for movies; and Logan, a sophomore at West Georgia College who spent the semester in Costa Rica studying Spanish. All three children were born in Knoxville.
Hall is involved in several charities, mostly to do with children.
“I feel it’s my responsibility. With the position I have in news, it gives me an opportunity to raise awareness for specific groups (like) cancer research, childhood cancer. There is not enough money going to childhood cancer research,” he said.
The charities include Coaches Curing Kids Cancer, the American Cancer Society, The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, Safepath and CASA.
Hall, who turns 50 on June 11, began his broadcasting career in 1983 after attending Bethel College and graduating from Brown Institute, both in Minneapolis, Minn. He was a disc jockey, news and sportscaster and commercial producer at KNAB-AM/FM in Burlington, Colo.
Then he was at the smallest TV station in the country, KLOE, in Goodland, Kan.
“Great people there and a great experience since I had to do a little of everything in the business literally four people on the staff and I was at the bottom,” he said.
Next he went to KWCH in Wichita, Kan., as a morning news anchor and then did reporting in Lawrence and Topeka, Kan., working for CBS Network News and sports reporting for ESPN.
When he came to WBIR in 1988, he was weekend sports anchor and then became the 6 p.m. news anchor, succeeding Bill Williams who had held the post for more than two decades.
He recalls his experience at WBIR as a TV station where the job and work culture are done right.
“It’s the quality of the people there and the tradition. Channel 10 has had them all. When I left it didn’t hurt them at all,” he said.
He stays in touch with Robin Wilhoit, who remains an evening anchor, and Russell Biven and Abby Ham, now morning anchors.
“We stay in touch on family, family situations, work,” Wilhoit said. “Life takes you on so many journeys, twists and turns. At WBIR you can leave but you can always have a way of being reconnected. That’s where social media comes in handy.”
In Atlanta, Hall first anchored the 11 p.m. news slot and then the 6 p.m. news. Now he does the morning anchor shift.
“The hours are ridiculous. A good night I go to bed at 7 p.m. and get up about 2:40 a.m. I try to get to work at 3:45 a.m. with the show at 4:30 a.m.,” he said. He has a 24-mile drive from Marietta.
He doesn’t have a specific beat in addition to the anchor position.
“I tend to do human interest stories, where the viewer says, “Wow, that happens!”