Hillary Howard, Reporter, Co-anchor, WTOP, and “It’s Academic” Host on what it means to her to host “It’s Academic” ~
“I really am. It’s an honor to be a part of a legacy program with those wonderful people who produce it, and the kids. And that we’re giving props to education. Knowledge is sacrosanct.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town. We have the distinct pleasure today to be a part of, and talking to the most important female, I think, on television
in Washington, but we’re also at the studios of my favorite radio station, WTOP. All news, all the time. I love it.
Andy Ockershausen: Hillary Howard, welcome to Our Town.
Hillary Howard: Andy, you flatter me. Clearly, I’m not the most important woman in DC TV, but that’s very kind.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re the most important one on this station.
Hillary Howard: Oh, well that’s very, very kind as well. I can’t say that, but thank you.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, I know. Timing is everything, Hillary, and you’re at the most valuable time. That’s when the most people hear you, and then that makes you the most important. This station is so powerful. You don’t want to hear this, but I’ll tell you anyway. I remember WJSV, it was 1500. That was the forerunner. It was owned by the Washington Post, and there was a chance … This is a long story, but I’ll make it short. CBS wanted to have a Washington TV outlet. They didn’t have one. They approached the Washington Star to make Channel 7 an affiliate, and the guy at Channel 7 said, “I’m not leaving ABC. They started me and I’m sticking with them.”
That loyalty doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all about money. But that was the Star, that was our hometown newspaper. We’re so glad that you decided … You’re obviously a New Yorker.
On New York | The Bronx | Brooklyn
Hillary Howard: I am from New York, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: The city?
Hillary Howard: Born in the Bronx, raised in the ‘burbs, and then went back to Manhattan for a while.
Andy Ockershausen: Manhattan is happening again. I mean, people tell me now.
Hillary Howard: It’s Brooklyn, baby.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, it happened. I’ve been traveling back and forth to New York for business and pleasure for years and years and years, and I’ve never heard so much adulation as New York’s getting.
Hillary Howard: I’ve got to tell you, my parents are from Brooklyn. My dad grew up in Bushwick.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my.
Hillary Howard: It was … I used to vacation there in the 70s at my grandmother’s house. It was a tough neighborhood. It’s not anymore. I mean, it’s unbelievable how Brooklyn’s changed.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. A lot of the millennials have moved into Brooklyn, I understand. Along the water, when you get along the water it’s a fortune. They used to live over in Jersey, but they’ve come back to the city. That’s what I’m told.
Hillary Howard: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andy Ockershausen: The trains and so forth, but New York is so exciting.
Andy Ockershausen: You went to grammar school in New York, and high school.
Hillary Howard: In the ‘burbs.
Andy Ockershausen: And then went to NYU. Now, that is important to me. That’s the epitome of New York City, is NYU.
Oneonta College and NYU
Hillary Howard: My heart’s in the Village, and it always was. But it was a great place to go to school for broadcasting. It’s interesting, because my first school, I went to a state school in New York called Oneonta. I went there for two years, and then I transferred to NYU. One of my friends from Oneonta …
Andy Ockershausen: Is that school in Olean?
Hillary Howard: Oneonta? Is in the beautiful Susquehanna Valley of New York.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Hillary Howard: Kind of midway between Albany … So, my friend from Oneonta asked if it really mattered that I went to NYU. Was my education that much better? And I really thought about it. After a lot of consideration, I’m like, you know what, not really. Because, I had great professors at Oneonta. The difference was access to opportunity. In New York, if you’re going to NYU, I had professors who were producers at NBC News, I worked at RKO Radio Network, I worked at Winns Radio. So, you know, it was the access to opportunity, to interning at 30 Rock, all of those things that could never have happened if I stayed in a small school.
Andy Ockershausen: Opportunity knocks at those schools. For whatever reason, it does. WTOP to me is great call letters. NYU is great call letters, too. When you find somebody that goes to that school, they have to have a good brain. I guess now it’s probably expensive.
Hillary Howard: It was easier to get in then. It was easier to get in then.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s a private school, right? It’s not a part of the city?
Hillary Howard: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. True. That’s it, yes.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s amazing. And then you have the SUNYs and so forth, but they’re all upstate. So that, you get … You’re connected in New York. Connected with 30 Rock and people. Where did that lead you to?
Making Connections in Broadcasting
Hillary Howard: I made a lot of connections which was wonderful, and I learned a lot. For example, RKO Radio Network, which was relatively short-lived.
Andy Ockershausen: Right. But I remember it vividly, RKO.
Hillary Howard: It was fabulous, and the talent at that network taught me some of the most valuable lessons in my career. Their approach was conversational, they wrote for broadcast. They weren’t just repurposing wire copy, and making some long, dense sentences with many, many clauses. It was just a very fresh approach to doing the news. Still informative.
Andy Ockershausen: What a great experience for you. They had a great radio company, too. RKO Radio. I think they owned WGMS here for a while. What do you think of that?
Hillary Howard: Oh, wow.
Andy Ockershausen: Way back. So that led you into being an artist, or an artistic, right? NYU?
Hillary Howard: I guess I have a bit of an artistic soul.
Andy Ockershausen: I think you do.
Hillary Howard: I’d say that’s true.
Andy Ockershausen: I watch you doing the weather and I think you’re selling the weather, and I appreciate that. You don’t just do the weather, you sell it.
Poughkeepsie, NY | Cousin Brucie | WABC and Radio 77
Hillary Howard: Back in the day, when I did the weather, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s what I mean. Now you’re selling the news, but that’s another subject. So, I want to talk to you about your career in television. Was it all in Washington? But where you really got your … You went to WAVY in Norfolk, right?
Hillary Howard: I did. I started in radio, in and around New York, so after I left the city I was in Poughkeepsie, NY for a while. Oh, this is a good story.
I worked at a station called WJJB? No, WJBB, in Poughkeepsie, NY. It was owned by Cousin Brucie of WABC fame. Remember him?
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right? Cousin Brucie. Absolutely.
Hillary Howard: He owned a couple of stations in the Hudson Valley.
Andy Ockershausen: He was the morning man at WABC.
Hillary Howard: He might have done afternoons. Now I can’t remember.
Andy Ockershausen: Could be. Drive time guy.
Hillary Howard: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Big voice, big personality.
Andy Ockershausen: That was Radio 77 then. You could hear them all over the world.
Hillary Howard: Yeah, 77. WABC, the music’s on us.
Andy Ockershausen: They went and went and went, right?
Hillary Howard: Yeah, they did.
Hillary Howard: So he owned these stations in the Hudson Valley, and occasionally he would come in and he would jock for a day. So, he came in, he was doing a music show and I was the news person.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Hillary Howard: So I got to do the news with Cousin Brucie, and when I finished, he told me I was good. I will tell you, it was a career highlight. I was like, flying home that night.
Andy Ockershausen: Most people are too young to remember Cousin Brucie, but the impact that 77 Radio and their personalities had was enormous. They were the first real, genuine rocker in the US. Is that not correct? WABC?
Hillary Howard: It was, and is still a legendary station. It used to be, you could walk, I’m not joking, you could walk down the beach from Long Island, through New York, down the Jersey shore and every single blanket would have WABC. And it stayed that way until WPLJ came along on FM and started changing things.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a sister station, too.
Hillary Howard: Was it? I don’t even remember.
Andy Ockershausen: Both of them are owned by ABC.
Hillary Howard: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah. Cousin Brucie and the talent they had was world class. It’s still about talent. I think that’s the secret of WTOP, but that’s another subject.
So that excited you to follow the radio career, but you knew your coming was in television. You’re so attractive. It does still work. Television still … People like to see attractive people. It just happens, Hillary.
Hillary Howard: Well, yes. It’s a little unfortunate, but it’s … that it’s the way it is.
Andy Ockershausen: I keep telling Joe Palka that’s why he’s not on TV.
Hillary Howard: I’m sure he loves you for that.
Andy Ockershausen: He loves me anyway. His wife is so great. I know you’ve worked with her.
Hillary Howard: Yeah, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re going to come back, Hillary. We’re talking to Hillary, Hillary, Hillary Howard about her career, her fabulous career and she’s going be in television, be the number one female television performer to me. This is Our Town.
[Begin GEICO Commercial]
Technology truths, brought to you by GEICO.
Truth: You have 14 login passwords. And you can’t remember any of them.
Doug one. Doug two? Doug is awesome. Doug is awesome one, two, three.
Truth: It’s so easy to switch and save on car insurance at GEICO.com.
Doug is super cool ampersand, underscore, exclamation point, exclamation point, 1985. Knew it!
GEICO, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more. [End GEICO Commercial]
[Begin Commercial] Mike Collins: This is attorney Mike Collins. Come to my seminar and I’ll explain, in plain English, all you need to know about wills, trusts, taxes, probate, and how to keep your money in your family. I’ll show you how to eliminate those dread death-taxes, and avoid the expense and delay of probate. See how our Reservoir Trust can protect your family’s inheritance from lawsuits and the divorce court. Thousands of your neighbors have already attended, so watch the mail for your special invitation, and register now at, mikecollins.com. That’s mikecollins.com.[End Commercial]
Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town, with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and Our Town. Chatting, and I say chatting because that’s what we’re doing, with Hillary Howard, talking about her career. I think we’ve exhausted our radio discussion. Let’s move into Hillary Howard on television. I see the call letters, WAVY in Norfolk. That’s a very famous call letter to me. WAVY.
Long Island – WGBB | Kingston, NY WTZA | Virginia Beach, VA – WAVY
Hillary Howard: It is. Yeah, WAVY TV. WAVY TV 10. Before I was at WAVY, I was in the Hudson Valley. I worked at a TV station in Kingston, NY, called WTZA, from the Tappan Zee to Albany. Channel 69. And that’s how I started doing weather. So, I’d been at another legendary AM, all service AM on Long Island in Merrick, called WGBB. I was there for, I don’t know, maybe about a year when I got this opportunity to do TV in the Catskills, ostensibly.
Andy Ockershausen: You had to move then, of course.
Hillary Howard: I didn’t. I had a rent-controlled apartment in Murray Hill.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my.
Hillary Howard: In the early 80s.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s gold.
Hillary Howard: I was paying 304 bucks for a gorgeous studio in a doorman building, with a little terrace looking out at the Empire State Building. I mean, I used to write socialist poetry. I felt so guilty. It was like, who could afford to live here, you know, on that kind of money. But, I did.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, my God.
Hillary Howard: Yeah. And then, from there I …
Andy Ockershausen: Why did you ever leave? You should have sublet it and you could go back to it when you hit the big time.
Hillary Howard: My sister is still really mad at me. She’s never forgiven me, because my boyfriend at the time was living with me, and when I moved for good, I let him keep the apartment. She’s still pissed.
Andy Ockershausen: He’s still living on your discovery then?
Hillary Howard: Yeah, he eventually moved.
Andy Ockershausen: You could never have found anything like that in Manhattan. You’re a lucky person. Now you’re moving, and you got rid of the apartment by dumping it on your boyfriend.
Hillary Howard: Yeah. No, he was very happy to have that dumped on him.
Andy Ockershausen: I bet he was. And you’re moving south?
Hillary Howard: And I moved south. So, after Channel 69 in Kingston, where I started doing the weather. That’s the story I wanted to tell you.
Hillary Howard: I was hired to be a reporter and a weather person. I was a journalism major, I’d always worked in news, loved news, never ever expected or wanted to do weather, until I had this job.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s a great opportunity for you.
Hillary Howard: It was a great opportunity. It opened all kinds of doors for me. So, I would go to work, I would get an assignment, I’d go out with a photographer. We’d shoot our story. I’d write my story in the car. We’d go back to the station. I’d edit the story.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. You did all the production.
Hillary Howard: Yep. Took a break from editing. I would talk to AccuWeather, they would brief me on the maps. If I didn’t understand a particular thing, they would tell it to me. I’d be like, “Oh, cool.” I’d bring the maps to the art department.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s your training, on air. On the job. It’s incredible.
Hillary Howard: Yeah. On the job. On the job.
Andy Ockershausen: And you’re such a natural with it. Given these opportunities then, did you study? Did you go to weather schools, or just let it happen?
Hillary Howard: No. Well, two things happened. After I left TZA and went to WAVY, I was doing weekend weather at WAVY, and general assignment three days a week, which was perfect. It was great for me. Then I got the job to fill in for Sue Palka.
Andy Ockershausen: Living in Norfolk, or Hampton Roads, or somewhere down there.
Hillary Howard: I was living at a little place called Chicks Beach, next to the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Now it’s all mini-mansions, but back then, I lived in a salty beach bungalow that was half buried in the sand.
Andy Ockershausen: It was heaven. And close to Virginia Beach, of course?
Hillary Howard: Yeah. But I was right on the beach, right on the Chesapeake Bay. I would try swimming with the dolphins every day in the summer.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, my God. Well, this is all giving you an opportunity to spread your wings, to do other things. You’re doing news, you’re doing probably some sports, some weather. Did everything as an assignment reporter.
Hillary Howard: Never sports. Sports is the only thing I haven’t done.
Andy Ockershausen: That was experience. You couldn’t pay for that.
Hillary Howard: Nope.
Andy Ockershausen: And they’re paying you a salary, and you’re learning.
Hillary Howard: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: Now, how in the world did you turn that into a trip to a bigger market? Which is what people should do. There’s so many people in our business who didn’t get that opportunity. They don’t get jobs in it. Nobody starts at the top, Hillary. Everybody’s got to pay their dues, in my experience, in broadcasting. Usually from smaller stations. Of course, WAVY’s not a small station.
Hillary Howard: No.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a huge market in a lot of ways.
Hillary Howard: It is. It’s a big, big news market, big news town.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, absolutely. And then you’re getting ready to move to Washington?
Hillary Howard: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you audition?
Moving to Washington DC – Channel 5 – Weather Reporter
Hillary Howard: I did, and I had an agent at the time. Her name was Shirley Barish, who was a wonderful woman, short woman. I met her before I signed a contract with her. Who smoked a lot. When I went to visit her, I never really saw her face, because there was always a veily haze of smoke separating us, and she had this very husky voice. But I really liked her. So, she connected me with the news director at Channel 5, and they hired me to fill in for Sue’s maternity leave, and then eventually do weekends and general assignment reporter three days a week. But, when I started to fill in for Sue, every day before work, and I lived in DC at the time, I would drive out to Camp Springs, MD where the National Weather Service used to be located.
Andy Ockershausen: Know it quite well.
Hillary Howard: And there was a wonderful director of the Weather Service named Jim Belville, who let me come to the map discussions every single day.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Hillary Howard: Yeah. So, I learned a lot.
Andy Ockershausen: You couldn’t buy that.
Hillary Howard: I learned a lot from those guys. And, you know, separately I learned how to decipher guidance and it was wonderful. I love science. I’m kind of a geeky person anyway, so it was good for me.
Andy Ockershausen: But that gives you such a broad background to do news, because you know all of these other things. I don’t think there are many news people that know weather, and you do. That is an asset to the station, to you and to your partner, too, because he can rely on you to have information.
Hillary Howard: Hopefully.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re a team.
Hillary Howard: That’s true.
Andy Ockershausen: And, speaking of teams, did you ever do any sports broadcasting? Women now are doing play-by-play, and I’m so happy for that, because it changes the face of that dumb sport. They’re not only doing color, they’re doing play-by-play. I think FOX did that on one of their telecasts.
No Sports Reporting
Hillary Howard: I would need to know something about sports to be an effective sports caster. I can do it as satire, Andy, very well. But not much more than that.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re so talented, there’s no reason you couldn’t do it, Hillary.
Hillary Howard: Well, again, I’d have to know something.
Andy Ockershausen: I just think it’s wonderful for the industry, and I think it’s wonderful for football, to have women with a very prominent voice, and we need that.
Hillary Howard: I agree.
Andy Ockershausen: And I’ve been enjoying this so much, Hillary. I’m going to be back. This is Andy Ockershausen, this is Our Town.
[Begin Commercials] Tony Cibel: Hi,Tony Cibel here, to tell you about Tony and Joe’s and Nick’s Riverside Grill at Washington Harbour in Georgetown. Spectacular new restaurants. We’ve spent a lot of time rebuilding. You’ll love it, it’s really fantastic. For any information, you can go online to tonyandjoes.com. It’ll be a wonderful experience for the whole family. Call 202-944-4545 to make reservations. Everything is fabulous. You’ve gotta come down and have some wonderful food.
Charles Mann: Hi, I’m Charles Mann. For athletes like me playing every down in a pro game is like getting in a car accident. After years playing football in Washington, my body is broken, I’ve had countless surgeries and joint replacements. I’ve been looking for a non surgical treatment since I ended my career. I heard a radio ad for a seminar about alternative treatment, it’s called “regenerative medicine” which stimulates your own body to heal and repair itself. No surgery, no more pain. That got my attention. I went to the seminar to learn first hand all about it. Now you too can benefit and receive this treatment. This is the same procedure that pro athletes use to quickly and effectively recover from injury. If you are looking to eliminate your pain and arthritis or if you thought surgery was your only option, take the first step like I did, call 410-787-7250. Register for the next seminar and learn more about this breakthrough procedure. Seating is limited, register now by calling 410-787-7250 and start living life again![End Commercials]
Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town, with Andy Ockershausen. Brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. I’m having a wonderful conversation with Hillary Howard. She elicits so many ideas. She’s talking about places and people, it rings so many bells with me, and I like to talk about it. One is, my favorite quiz show, probably ever, was your favorite quiz show too. “It’s Academic” is such a big, big, big part of our culture, I think. I think that has been produced for years, and has been such an important thing for Our Town.
Hillary Howard: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s your baby.
“It’s Academic Quiz Show”
Hillary Howard: I am really thrilled to be a part of that show.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my.
Hillary Howard: I really am. It’s an honor to be a part of a legacy program with those wonderful people who produce it, and the kids. And that we’re giving props to education. Knowledge is sacrosanct.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that Sophie Altman?
Hillary Howard: Sophie Altman started the show, 58 years ago. Almost 58 years ago. We’re in the middle of the 58th season.
Andy Ockershausen: I know her son quite well, Bob. Bobby Altman. But she is a legend in Washington television, because you said, 58 years. What lasts 58 years?
Hillary Howard: Not much.
Andy Ockershausen: The call letters. Even they’ve changed.
Hillary Howard: Well, you know we’re in the Guinness World Records. “It’s Academic” is the longest running TV quiz show on the planet.
Andy Ockershausen: I believe it. And it’s such a big, big quiz. It’s more than just a show. Those kids, to me, and the way they stage it, and the cheerleaders and everything about “It’s Academic” is great. Sophie was a genius to start it, but it’s been expanded greatly over the years.
Hillary Howard: She never expected it to last. She never thought it would last. That’s what her daughter, Susan, told me. Susan Altman’s now the producer along with who’s been there for more than probably 55 years. And even Joel Kemelhor who came on late, he’s almost at 50 years, so they’ve been doing it a long time.
Andy Ockershausen: And the director has been with them for a long time, too?
Hillary Howard: Yeah. Shelly’s been there for a while, but I don’t know how many years.
Andy Ockershausen: Do you still do that at Channel 4? You shoot it at 4?
Hillary Howard: We do, although we’re not going to do it there next year, apparently.
Andy Ockershausen: For a while it wasn’t on 4. It’s been on several stations, you know. Used to be on WTOP-TV, and there was a time when Mac McGarry, that you ran out of a job …
Hillary Howard: I did not, and I’ll tell you what happened. I would never. I loved Mac.
Andy Ockershausen: Nobody is like McGarry.
Hillary Howard: He was intelligent, erudite, hilarious. A gentleman.
Andy Ockershausen: A big jazz fan, did you know that?
Hillary Howard: Yes, I did. My husband and I went to dinner with he and his wife, and they were talking a lot about jazz.
Andy Ockershausen: He was such a legend. Was he the original one?
Hillary Howard: He did it for 50 years.
Andy Ockershausen: I know where they came from, there’s a whole group of guys came down here from Fordham University. Came to work in Washington television. Mac was one of them, and there were a bunch of guys living there on McComb street. They were all legendary broadcasters, and Mac McGarry was such an important part of Our Town. They can never … You replaced him, but he can’t be replaced because he was first.
Hillary Howard: Absolutely. I wouldn’t even have attempted to. Do you know who brought Mac McGarry to Washington?
Andy Ockershausen: Uh-oh. Not Bob Altman.
Hillary Howard: Nope. Do you want to guess? This is going to surprise you, if you don’t know.
Andy Ockershausen: Bill Malone?
Hillary Howard: Nope. Vin Scully.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, Vin. Yeah, I know. He was a Florida brat.
Hillary Howard: Yep, yep. That’s why Mac came to Washington. Vin called him up, said, “There’s this job.” I think it was for the announcing job at WRC.
Andy Ockershausen: I was so broken-hearted when he moved out of the booth. He did one game last year, I think, as a toast to something, but those voices don’t exist anymore. Like Red Barber. You’re too young, but Red Barber was . . .
Hillary Howard: No, I remember. Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Those voices were so important to the teams. Did you watch any of the Yankees and the Red Sox series?
Hillary Howard: I didn’t.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re a New Yorker, that’s blood for you, the Red Sox and the Yankees. But, back to Academic. We had a sponsor here, Giant. Is Giant still the sponsor?
Hillary Howard: It is.
Andy Ockershausen: They’ve been there for 50 years too.
Hillary Howard: Yeah, more than.
Andy Ockershausen: Because, we had a … We, meaning some people and I who were in the broadcast business, Channel 7, we had an arrangement with Giant. We were going to move the show. Giant was paying for it, they could do what they wanted with it, and McGarry would not go along with it. He said, “I am an NBC guy. They’ve been good to me, and if the show moves, so be it, but I don’t want to move to another station.” Boy, that loyalty doesn’t exist anymore. That’s hearsay. The man said. Although, I had the same experience with Willard. Willard never did the weather. He’d be on the weather show, but you could watch and say, “What did he say?” He would talk about everything else.
Anyway, Willard was going to join them, and they were going to join Harden and Weaver. I wanted him to, but he said, “I can’t leave General Sarnoff.” Do you believe that?
Hillary Howard: Wow, that’s something.
Andy Ockershausen: Where’s that loyalty? He met him one day in the station, and they became acquaintances, and he owed his loyalty to General Sarnoff. He said, “I’m not leaving WRC radio.” But that’s the story that you’re living in for me. Hillary, you’ve had such an impact with your show. You’ve taken it to another height, and the kids are so good now. They’re so smart.
Hillary Howard is Tapped for “It’s Academic”
Hillary Howard: They’re so smart. I want to tell you what happened, how I got this job, because it’s a really interesting story.
Andy Ockershausen: I want to hear it, how you ran McGarry off.
Hillary Howard: Oh, stop. No, I didn’t. Yeah, I was like, “Get out, get out.” No, no. I would never. I loved him.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re too sweet for that.
Hillary Howard: I knew him. So, apparently, he wasn’t feeling up to doing the show. He hadn’t been well, and his voice, he didn’t like the sound of his voice.
Andy Ockershausen: He really had problems at the end.
Hillary Howard: Yeah. And he didn’t want to go on without his full voice.
Andy Ockershausen: Great pipes, he called it.
Hillary Howard: Great pipes. He had great pipes. I got a call from, I think I got a call from Susan Altman, and it turned out … Do you know who Bob Kur is?
Andy Ockershausen: Yes, to that.
Hillary Howard: Okay. So, Bob Kurr worked at NBC for his whole career.
Andy Ockershausen: Another legend.
Hillary Howard: I think he worked on maybe Weekend Today. A fabulous reporter, wonderful human being, and because “It’s Academic” was shot at NBC, he had a friendship with these guys. So, when Mac wasn’t doing well, the first person they called was Bob Kur. They asked Bob if he wanted to do the show, because he loved it, and Bob said, “No, no. I’m not going to do it, but why don’t you try Hillary Howard.”
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Hillary Howard: Because Bob and I had co-anchored a show at the very short-lived Washington Post Radio, just downstairs from TOP. They called, and I took it.
Andy Ockershausen: Sophie called you.
Hillary Howard: Susan. Susan did. Sophie had been gone at that point. But, Susan called me, and I started filling in, and then at some point mid-season, Mac decided he wasn’t going to come back.
Andy Ockershausen: His health was deteriorating rapidly, I knew that. A special, special person. So Bob Kur thought of you. You must have done something right, Hillary.
Hillary Howard: Presumably. He’s such a good guy. So, I’m very grateful to Bob for that.
Andy Ockershausen: We should be grateful for Statter, too. He kept you here, didn’t he?
Hillary Howard: Oh, my husband? Dave? Dave Statter? Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Is Dave still in the business?
Hillary Howard: No, he left Channel 9, I forget how many years ago already. Six, seven, eight years ago? And, he has a podcast called Statter911.com. It’s all about fire and EMS issues, because he had been a volunteer firefighter in Prince George’s County before he started reporting.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s a huge part of our economy now, and our culture is these rescue cues. I’m involved with Heroes, Inc. They take care of firefighter’s families and police families, but that’s such an important … I read now, they’re packing up a bunch of kids to send them to … I say kids, they’re in their 20s. They’re sending them down to Florida right now, emergency crews from Fairfax. I think Fairfax goes everywhere.
Hillary Howard: For Hurricane Michael.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. And PG County, they do too.
Hillary Howard: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, we have … I had a lot of friends in PG County and I love their fire department, and your husband is a fortunate man to have you.
Hillary Howard: That’s very kind. I’m lucky to have him.
Andy Ockershausen: Well, Hillary, and you know … Academic, “It’s Academic” has you and has all these wonderful kids, and I used to be able to answer most of the questions. Now, I might as well be in Mars. They’re so smart and so attractive. I like the way these kids come on there dressed. You don’t have anybody that sloughs off on that show, and that’s important.
I used to tell people, you know, if you’re getting a chance, you’ve got to dress the role. To be on Academic must be so important to these young people.
Hillary Howard: I think it is, you know.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s something they can share forever. Well, Hillary, you’re so special. I’m so flattered that you would spend this time with us, because you’re really spending time to our, I hope, 100,000 hits. We don’t know how many we get. The problem with what we’re doing, there’s no way to measure it.
Hillary Howard: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: We know we have an audience, and we know we’ll have a lot of people who want to hear about you, because there’s more to Hillary Howard than the show.
Hillary Howard: Well, that’s just gravy. I’m thrilled that people may be interested enough to listen to me. Thank you very much. But just talking to you about all of this stuff has really made my day.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, well thank you.
Hillary Howard: You’re welcome.
Andy Ockershausen: You can flatter me all you want.
Hillary Howard: Well, hello, big boy.
Andy Ockershausen: My problem is, I’ve been around so long, all my people are dying.
Hillary Howard: Oh, stop.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank God you’re still here with us. I mention the names and the people that you talk about, and they’re so important to our culture, I think, and important to Our Town. And nobody is more important than Hillary Howard.
Hillary Howard: I bet you say that to all your guests, you sweet-talker.
Andy Ockershausen: Only the girls. You don’t mind if I call you a girl.
Hillary Howard: No, please.
Andy Ockershausen: Because you’re a girl to me.
Hillary Howard: Hey, before we go, there were a couple of people I met.
Andy Ockershausen: Wait a minute, where are we going?
Hillary Howard: Well, before we say so long.
Andy Ockershausen: The show might be over, but I’m not.
Sue Palka | Shawn Anderson | WTOP
Hillary Howard: I have to mention a couple of people. We talked about Sue Palka earlier. First of all, she’s a friend and a wonderful person, and really made my transition at Channel 5 so wonderful. We mentioned my partner here at WTOP, Shawn Anderson, I couldn’t do it without him. He carries me every afternoon. And, this station, I didn’t tell you about this station. We talked about my whole career, but I didn’t tell you that of all the places I’ve worked, and there have been many, it is the best shop I’ve ever worked in, with creative, progressive, forward-thinking and kind management. It’s an anomaly and I feel really lucky to work here.
Andy Ockershausen: There’s no secret to being number one.
Hillary Howard: Well, that helps.
Andy Ockershausen: You get the right people, work hard, you can’t miss it, can you?
Hillary Howard: It definitely helps.
Andy Ockershausen: And Joel. Don’t forget Joel. Joel is a wonderful man.
Hillary Howard: He’s incredible. Incredible.
Andy Ockershausen: In spite of not knowing what he’s doing, he’s done a great job. We love him.
Hillary Howard: I’ll tell him.
Andy Ockershausen: And we love you, too. Thank you for thinking of all those people, the people who make this place.
Hillary Howard: Thanks, Andy.
Andy Ockershausen: The call letters are great, but the people make it.
Hillary Howard: That is the truth anywhere.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re going to be talking to Neal Augenstein, and I’ll learn how to pronounce his name, but he’ll be here next.
Hillary Howard: I’m looking at him right now. You called him Mr. Hollywood after you saw his shot, his headshot.
Andy Ockershausen: Hooray for Hollywood.
Hillary Howard: Thank you, Andy.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank you so much, Hillary. You were beautiful.
Hillary Howard: Thanks.
Andy Ockershausen: This has been Our Town, and Hillary Howard has been such a wonderful, wonderful conversationalist. I hope I didn’t interrupt you too much, but God bless you, and keep doing a great job on the radio.
Hillary Howard: God bless you back, Andy. Thanks.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank you. Say hello to Bob for me.
Hillary Howard: Hiya, Bob.
Andy Ockershausen: Thank you.
Hillary Howard: Oh, Bob Marburg? Oh, I thought you meant like, somebody named Bob. Some errant person listening.
Andy Ockershausen: I love the traffic, too.
Hillary Howard: Yeah, he’s amazing.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen and Hillary Howard.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town Season 4, presented by GEICO, our hometown favorite, with your host, Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL Radio in Washington DC, and thanks to GEICO. 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
Tell Us What You Think