Bill Hall and Old Nashville

So, WSMV is bringing Bill Hall back for an interview, just in time for November sweeps. That ought to tell you something. Bill Hall is something of a Nashville icon. Nashville transplants may not understand when the word ‘beloved’ is tossed around whenever Mr. Hall’s name is mentioned. We lifelong Nashvillians (all four of us) understand completely.

Bill (Mr Hall just doesn’t seem right) is a throwback to the “old” Nashville; the one that was smaller and less important than Memphis (and had an inferiority complex about it), the small big town, or the big small town, the one whose tallest building was the L&C tower. Harvey’s, Opryland, Cain Sloan, sold-out Vanderbilt football games: Bill is the symbol of the Nashville in which I grew up. It’s kind of sad he’s been put out to pasture. It’s even sadder that I remember his first day on the Ralph Emery show.

It’s only a matter of time, we’ll see the other old icons go, too. They’ll be replaced by generic anchors who are vying for a shot at CNN. I cannot imagine a Nashville without a Bob Mueller, Anne Holt, Cris Clark, Dan Miller (although we had that for a while), Hope Hines, even Demetria, who as a transplant is still one of the most iconic of Nashville news personalities. I refered to her only by her first name, and you knew who she was: that’s an icon.

No matter where you went away, or for how long, you could come back and these folks were still here waiting. They “were”, and “are” Nashville in that they retain the pleasant, friendly persona that was Old Nashville. We took them for granted. If you could time-lapse video from the 70’s to the present, the passage of time could be marked by the lines on Chris Clark’s face. I am sad that Nashville will, in the not too distant future, just become another mid-sized market, indistiguishable from Indianoplis, Charlotte, Columbus, at least as far as our newscasts go.

One final thing about Bill Hall: he may have been the world’s most preeminent African American redneck, and that may be the biggest reason of all to miss him.

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6 Responses to “Bill Hall and Old Nashville”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Well said, and I think there are still five of us. šŸ˜‰ What would Nashville be without fishing forecasts and Snow Bird?

    You remember sold-out Vanderbilt football games? Thanks for making me feel young. šŸ˜‰

  2. Lynnster Says:

    Aw, we had TV across the river in Henry & Benton Counties back then. Really, we did! Indoor plumbing too!

    I did a post a while back about that whole Channel 4 crew & Snow Bird a while ago after I learned about Paul Eels’ death via SistaSmiff’s blog. There was NEVER anything but Channel 4 news in my home, and my grandparents usually, though they would occasionally watch Chris Clark instead. I mentioned at the time I was writing how Rudy Kalis would always be “the new guy” to me… showing my age, ugh. šŸ™‚

    Thing I always loved about Bill Hall was he was just always so jolly. You just really couldn’t watch him do the weather and not be happy right along with him. Thanks for the reminder, I smiled today again just thinking about him & his jolly self.

  3. John H Says:

    you can tell who is ‘old Nashville’ by the fact that we don’t consider watching anything but Channel 4 news and we’ve met Bill somewhere or other.

    Thanks for the memories.

  4. grandefille Says:

    You can also identify a transplant vs. a native by how they react to Snowbird. Natives hear that little jingle and grin, even if they’re grown. Transplants hear it and start cussing the bird because they have to juggle daycare. (You can also recognize an old-timer because they kinda wig out every time they see a Macy’s ad. My aunt always says, “It’s CASTNER’S! This isn’t New York!”)

    We always knew it was time for the first frost when Bill would warn us to cover up the tomato plants and bring in the pets. I think Miller said something like that the other night, just making conversation before the break, but it wasn’t the same.

    I kept wanting Bill to get snarky with Miller during the interview, like he did occasionally on-air. There was an interesting undercurrent there after Miller came back from exile.

  5. Loonytick Skook Says:

    When Bill said that about bringing in the plants, you knew he would be doing it, too. Because if Bill Hall isn’t fussing over vegetable plants, who is?

    He’s just Southern, through and through. Country without being stupid, which is pretty much the standard character of lifelong locals (Belle Medians excepted). It is sad to see him go, and especially sad to see so little local flavor on the news anymore.

    Although I did notice the other night that Kristin Preisol on Channel Five said “Shebbavuhl” instead of “Shelbyville.” That made me smile.

  6. grandefille Says:

    Shebbavuhl? Dude! I missed it! I knew I liked that girl.

    If she says “Shovel,” y’all, we’ll know she’s infiltrated. Because only natives call it that.


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