For nearly 40 years, New Orleans tuned in to watch as Angela Hill delivered the news of the day on WWL-TV. Soon, they’ll be able to catch up with the veteran newswoman on their radio dial and call in to talk with her as well.
Less than six months after her retirement from WWL-TV, Hill announced yesterday that she will begin hosting a new radio talk show called “The Open Mind” on WWL 870 AM & 105.3 FM. The show is slated to debut on Sept. 30 and will air weekdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“The whole concept of the show is, let’s keep an open mind and talk about what’s happening in our city, the good, the bad, the ugly,” Hill said. “We’ll cover the serious news everyone is talking about but also the fun stuff. This is a fun town and we want to show that side of it too. It’s wide open.”
Hill said she is most excited for the chance to interact directly with a New Orleans audience through the call-in talk show format.
“That’s the beauty of radio,” she said. “You can pick up the phone and speak your mind and share your stories with me. Frankly, that’s the only way this show will succeed, if people call in.”
“The Open Mind” is taking over the time slot that has long been filled by John “Spud” McConnell’s “Talk Gumbo” show. In a statement, Chris Claus, vice president and New Orleans manager of WWL radio’s parent company Entercom Communications, said, “Spud isn’t going anywhere” and that the station would announce new plans for him on Monday at noon during Garland Robinette’s “The Think Tank” show.
Hill grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, and got her start as a reporter and producer for television stations around south Texas, beginning in 1972. She recalled that at the time, her high-profile role on TV news was still something of an oddity in the small communities where she got her start.
“I was not universally welcomed with open arms,” she said. “Some people just didn’t like the idea of a woman doing the news. The first guy who hired me was taking a chance and I just worked through it.”
But in 1975, WWL-TV recruited the 26-year-old reporter to join its Eyewitness News staff. Within months she was promoted to the news anchor desk, and that is where she built her career and became a household name across the New Orleans area. Hill has earned a trophy case full of industry accolades, including a regional Edward R. Murrow award. She is an inductee to the New Orleans Broadcasting Hall of Fame and has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Press Club of New Orleans. After announcing her retirement from WWL-TV in late March, Hill said she would continue to work with the station to produce special programs and she confirmed that those plans are still on track to begin in 2014.
Hill confessed she would be “nervous and scared” as she gets started with a new broadcast medium, but said all the familiar faces at WWL radio should help. Garland Robinette is both a former WWL-TV anchorman and her ex-husband (the two were married for nine years) and Helen Centanni, the channel’s executive producer, was a producer on “The Angela Show,” a talk show Hill hosted on WWL-TV for seven years.
“It’s like a homecoming to Helen,” Hill said of her new job. “Garland used to joke that he got Helen in the divorce. But now we say it’s like shared custody.”