Emeritus Bill Williams was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame on Tuesday
For 23 years Bill was the most trusted journalist in East Tennessee. He delivered the news with honesty, accuracy and integrity.
His familiar voice shared the news of the day with East Tennessee viewers for nearly three decades. But Bill's start in broadcast news began 600 miles away in Jefferson City and Columbia, Missouri. There he learned the business and honed his craft, becoming not just a journalist, but a storyteller.
Then one phone call in 1977 changed the course of Bill's life and the face of East Tennessee television.
"Accepted the job sight unseen. He'd (the news director) seen me, on tape. But I had never seen the station. No idea what I was walking into," Bill said.
In those early days at Channel 10, Bill did it all.
He anchored the news but behind the scenes, he directed the news coverage, wrote stories, spliced film footage and taught young journalist the in's and out's of the business.
Bill focused on telling the news his way: Get it right. Tell the truth. Don't sensationalize.
And over the next two decades, he would set the standard and break new ground in broadcasting.
He helped welcome the world to Knoxville at the 1982 world's fair.
Bill was the first journalist in Knoxville to be live via satellite when he covered the 1983 Congressional hearings into the Butcher banking scandal.
"My what a wonderful, marvelous thing. Here I am in Washington, and people in Knoxville can see me, hear me," he said. "Of course, it's old hat now."
At the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco, he set a new precedent for political coverage in Knoxville.
"We worked ourselves to death. 16, 18 hours a day. We did three live shots a day, and this was back when live was something unique, and rather extraordinary," he said.
Daily, Bill covered stories of change, challenge, heartache and hope.
In 1980, Monday's Child was born. Bill featured children who needed a forever home.
By the end, close to 1,500 kids were profiled, with more than a thousand of them found a family.
In the mid-'90s, Bill found another way to touch lives.
His reports on the pockets of poverty in the mountains of Appalachia inspired the Mission of Hope.
What began as an effort to bring Christmas to those struggling families is now a year-long campaign to help them live a better life.
Bill retired from the news desk in 2000. A lot has changed since then. The way we get our news and gather our news today is immediate and interactive.
But Bill's career, his message and his legacy are as relevant today as it was when he came to WBIR in 1977.
"We have to have people who still ask questions, still sort out the truth, write the truth, deliver the message. You have to have people who know the message is the most important thing. Not the messenger."