* I grew up watching Hugh Hill on Channel 7. I had the opportunity to meet him when I first started out in the early 1990s. He did not disappoint. He asked pointed questions and often seemed to know more about what was going on behind the scenes than many of the reporters who worked the Statehouse full time, even with his occasional pre-broadcast naps in the pressroom kitchen.
Robert Feder has a great obit…
They don’t make reporters like Hugh Hill anymore.
A giant of Chicago journalism for 43 years, he practically invented the role of political reporter on local television news and played it longer and with more gusto than anyone.
Hill, who died Friday at 89, interviewed every U.S. president from Truman to Clinton and covered every Chicago mayor from Daley to Daley. His in-your-face style of interrogation and remarkable institutional memory made him a legend.
* Feder also ran some excerpts from a 1988 interview…
On the key to his success: “I get by because I know what I’m talking about. It’s been my life. I love the business of television news. I think knowledge is power in journalism as well as any other line. If you know more than the next guy, you’re better off, and you’re worth a lot more to the station or to the newspaper you’re working for, And I have more knowledge about the field of politics than anybody in journalism in Chicago. I have an uncanny memory and can remember a lot of things. And I do a hell of a lot of research and a lot of reading. I mean, I work hard.” […]
On working in a young person’s business: ”If there were something I could do that’s as much fun as broadcasting, then I’d go and retire to it. But there is no such thing. This is more fun than I could ever possibly hope for. Sure, it’s a job and you make good money. But I do it because I love it and I wouldn’t ever want to do anything else. It’s very, very tiring and exhausting physically. But mentally, it’s great. It’s an exercise in real journalism. It’s the essence of broadcast journalism.”
In most cities, TV news has always been little more than fluff. Chicago is different, particularly when I was growing up. My parents were always bemused at my fascination with Chicago TV news when I was still in grade school, but I think I recognized then how solid those broadcasts were. Fahey Flynn and Joel Daley were outstanding anchors, and I watched them whenever I could.
But Hugh Hill and Dick Kay (over at Channel 5) made an indelible mark on my young self. I once told that to Dick, but I was always a little intimidated by Hill, so I never got around to telling him what he meant to me growing up. I’m sorry for that now, but it just goes to show you what kind of man he was. People trembled in his wake.
He stomped on the terra.