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The Ben Hoover Back Story

JOB SEARCH GONE AWRY LED TO CONTROVERSIAL DECISION NOT TO RENEW TV ANCHOR’S CONTRACT Ok … so we finally got it.  “It” being the back story surrounding the controversial dismissal of WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) news anchor Ben Hoover. (And yes, for a story we don’t especially…

JOB SEARCH GONE AWRY LED TO CONTROVERSIAL DECISION NOT TO RENEW TV ANCHOR’S CONTRACT

Ok … so we finally got it.  “It” being the back story surrounding the controversial dismissal of WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) news anchor Ben Hoover.

(And yes, for a story we don’t especially care about, we are writing an awful lot about it … we get that).

Ready?

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, the long and winding road leading to the station’s decision to bail on Hoover began weeks ago when he applied for another anchor position within the Raycom Media family of networks (Raycom is the corporate parent of WIS and more than four dozen other local television stations across the country).

Not only did Hoover inform his bosses at WIS of his intention to test new the free agency waters, our sources say he was conducting interviews with their blessing.

When Hoover didn’t get the job he wanted, though, somehow (and this is the part we’re still investigating) the station’s blessing vanished.

Acrimony quickly ensued.

“When he announced his last day would be Friday, they then told him not to come in on Friday,” a source close to the station told us.

What happened?  It’s not immediately clear, although the blame for the fiasco is falling squarely on the shoulders of WIS general manager Donita Todd – who is reportedly loathed by employees at the station.

“She set him up,” another source close to WIS said of Todd. “Told him it was fine and then back-stabbed him.”

A colleague of Hoover’s described him as the “whole package.”

“Great look. Excellent broadcast writer. Sharp news judgment. Team player. Loyal friend,” the colleague said.

Hoover reportedly has a one-year non-compete clause in his contract with WIS, meaning he could not broadcast with one of the station’s local competitors until next July.  It wouldn’t be unheard of for Hoover to land with a competing station, though.  In the late 1990s, WLTX hired longtime WIS weatherman Jim Gandy shortly after the former station was purchased by Gannett.

Despite his local popularity, this website has taken a dim view of Hoover – although in fairness that’s mostly due to the pro-establishment, anti-taxpayer bent of his former employer.

“The station is nothing but a rolling commercial for South Carolina’s failed status quo,” we wrote earlier this week.  “In other words its leaders believe every government program is ‘good,’ any cut to government is ‘bad’ and any statement handed down from a pandering politician like Nikki Haley or Lindsey Graham should be taken as gospel.”

(Pic: via FB)

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82 comments

Robert July 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Non-competes don’t apply if you are terminated. And, in SC, as a right to work state, non-competes are very hard to enforce, but costly to fight.

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Ben Whoever July 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

An jury would find against Donita Todd.

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Mike at the Beach July 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm

You could read “hard to enforce” as “damn near impossible to enforce” in SC…

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Norma Scok July 8, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Proving damages is the hard part. You can’t stop someone from earning a living, no matter how much you dislike them.

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Viewer July 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

If a non compete is signed at the time of hire or if compensation is given to sign it can hold up in SC. I am sure WIS hasa well paid law team to cover their butts.

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Hoover’s contract was not renewed, which means his contract expired and his non-compete also expired. If the employer terminates the contract, they can not prevent the employee from finding suitable employment even with a competitor.

I know two people who have been sued for violating the non-compete clause in their contract. Both won their cases. SC is a right-to-work state.

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FrankPoole61 July 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm

How do you know that the noncompete expired when the contract expired? Have you read Hoover’s contract?

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George Singleton July 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Completely untrue.
Non-compete periods extend beyond the contract regardless of termination, resignation or non-renewal. It is clearly written that way and signed by the person (in this case Ben Hoover) voluntarily, so even in right to work states, these non-competes, especially in media are very easily enforced. Plus, other local media will not touch him out of A) fear of legal costs/damage to defend it even rightfully, and B) Negative impact/effect with the competing local station. This is a small town and the media all have to work and play together in the same sandbox… so they will not touch him with a ten foot pole.
Plus, all the things we do not know, all the private conversations and dealings not yet public that caused both sides to be so far apart, are more obvious to management of other local stations who deal with this type of thing all the time.

Bottom line, Kiss Ben Hoover goodbye in Columbia. He will find other work somewhere else I suspect, but instead of focusing on his contract renewal here, he screwed himself up by spending so much time and effort looking for work somewhere else instead.

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FrankPoole61 July 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Noncompetes can apply if you are terminated. It depends on what your employment contract says. And right-to-work has nothing to do with noncompetes. Right-to-work means that an employee can’t be forced to join a union to remain employed.

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DWalrus July 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm

This is correct. It cost me $75 in attorney fees to defeat one in 1991. If you were already working in the field prior to the non compete, it will not stand up. However, you may find it difficult to find an employer who is willing to offer employment as they too could become a party in the lawsuit should the employer decide to hold your feet to the fire.
Donita Todd needs to be run out of Columbia.

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Gidget the July 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Thing is he wasn’t fired. His 1 year contract was not renewed. That does not count as being fires

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Come to the Upstate July 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Not a local viewer but I have to give it to him. He has a strong, vocal and loyal group of viewers out there so he will land somewhere sooner rather than later. Beautiful girls Ben – surely you are a proud dad. Keep your chin up.

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GreenvilleGirl July 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I wish WYFF would hire him. Carol Goldsmith or Ben Hoover…………..

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Garbage Truck July 9, 2014 at 8:07 am

I was standing behind C. Goldsmith at Stax the other week waiting to pay. Her phone started beeping and for a second I thought she was getting ready to back right over me.

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Ben Whoever July 8, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I think this says alot about Donita Todd:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10101248081781085&set=pb.18413170.-2207520000.1404845012.&type=3&theater

It also reminds us of how freaking hot Katie McKee is.

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Brick Tamland July 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

It’s time to take a dump on Donita. Well nah, she likes that. Let’s just dump Donita instead.

https://www.change.org/petitions/raycom-media-fire-donita-todd-as-general-manager-of-wis-tv

“I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.”

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The Colonel July 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

And a full blown bromance it is!
Will, will you be going for rides in Ben’s Land Rover while listening to Cato tapes?

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Smirks July 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm Reply
The Colonel July 8, 2014 at 6:32 pm

This whole thing would be a lot funnier if his name was Ben Dover. Think about it, “The Ben Dover Back Story”.

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shifty henry July 8, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Damn — that is funny! Reminds me of this one—

———

Two gay roommates wanted to fill in some time.
One says, “Let’s play hide-and-seek. I’ll hide and you look for me. If you can find me I’ll give you a blowjob.”
The other guy asks, “But what if I can’t find you?” —— “I’ll be behind the piano.”

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Walking Around Cola Town July 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I don’t get it? Guy has contract, contract is fulfilled by both parties, contract not renewed. Simple as that. Why are people so freaking upset. Folks lose their jobs every day, some after 30 years… not 6!! and you don’t see a ton of protesting. My sources tell me, the Hoove’s had already sold his house because he was so confident in the other gig. We call that “overconfidence” . Guy does 2 reports that are memorable 1) the homeless thing and 2) walk to work in the snow ….while good, he was frankly just doing his job…just like the guy at Jiffy Lube changing oil.

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm

He sold his house in January 2013, are you so sure that you’ll get a job that you sell your house 18 months before a decision is made?

There hasn’t been a guy working at Jiffy Lube who does anything well.

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walking around columbia July 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm

It was my understanding he never thought he’d get what he was asking and sure enough he did.

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Mike at the Beach July 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Can’t a guy sell his house without leaving town? Pretty sure that happens all of the time if the price is right…

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm

I believe if you sell your house in Columbia, you have to leave. Why do you think there are so many ex-Columbia residents in Lexington?

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Mike at the Beach July 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Granted, but I meant that the sale a year and a half ago wasn’t likely related to some anticipated job-change. It may have simply been a good sale to cash out equity or move to a better neighborhood.

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 10:53 am

I took his point as Hoover could’ve just been moving to Lexington.

edr July 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm

paid 420,000 5.8.09
sold 451,500 1.14.13 after commission thats about a break even deal.
heard he was renting a big house near forest lakes country club

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Mike at the Beach July 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm

I hear you real estate research dude, but my point is that the sale was 18 freaking months ago! That’s one long job interview. He may very well have made a general decision to un-entangle himself for some potential move to be ready for a future opportunity, I just don’t think it was evidence of some secret plot or anything, that’s all. Those guys move around a good bit- they know how that game is played.

shifty henry July 8, 2014 at 6:39 pm

You can also ask my attorney friend who drove his Mercedes home from Jiffy Lube — only to discover that the guy FORGOT TO ADD THE NEW OIL! That cost Jiffy Lube $5,000 for a new motor. Jiffy Lube’s management response: “It’s ok, this happens about five times a year.”

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 9:06 pm

And they say attorney’s are smart. Apparently not smart enough not to take their car to Jiffy Lube.

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Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

That’s why Jiffy Lube has insurance.

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Brenda Wright July 10, 2014 at 9:46 pm

The owner of the house he rented sold the house.

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easterndumbfuckastan July 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I think it’s more of a straw that broke the camels back kind of thing. There has been lots of talk around and about town for the last several years about the revolving door at WIS-TV and the bleeding of talent since Donita took over in 2008. Ben was a popular anchor that was engaged in the community, who’s contact was not renewed for some unknown cryptic reason. WIS mismanaged this from a PR perspective and so it grew quickly to what you see here, Truthfully this is more about Donita Todd and Raycom than it is about Ben Hoover. We would like a strong news station in Columbia again and we don’t currently have that.

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Non-compete clauses are damn near worthless in a right to work state such as South Carolina. When you add in the fact that he was let go and did not quit, WIS can not keep him from working when they’re the ones who are responsible for him not working. Even if they tried to sue him for going to another local station and if they won the damage to the reputation at this point wouldn’t be worth it nor would the money gained by such a suit.

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FrankPoole61 July 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Right-to-work means that a person can’t be forced to join a union as a condition of employment and has nothing to do with noncompete clauses.

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Ms. Lindsey July 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I’m not gay(most of the time), but damn, that’s one good looking man.

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GrandTango July 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

My theory about FITS hit count must be accurate.
Why else would he go through so much trouble to keep posting about a story he is too stupid to get the political and cultural ramifications of?

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Maybe you should try his tried and true theory over on your blog, God knows you need the help.

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GrandTango July 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm

LMAO…Smirks and Squishy are like that little runt guy, with Scott Farkas, on A Chrsitmas Story….He’s on this page: http://slorober.blogspot.com/2011/12/scut-or-farkus.html

FITS’ll show you, bo. You Get em FITS….please.. .
You show him..
I love your hate…I LOVE IT…

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Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

So tell us Emily, do you spend more time on your blog or on Will’s blog?

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GrandTango July 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I LOVE coming on here to comment. Always have.

And at this point I’m only doing a limited amount on my Blog. There are additions and upgrades I will implement. It is but an infant right now. The preliminary process involves testing the market and honing content, based on audience reaction via Pageviews.

Then, there are the next steps. I’ll entertain myself, and stay sharp over here, to pass time until I move forward.
Thanks for your interest, and I hope that answers your question.

Squishy123 July 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm

So we’ll be seeing a Going Out of Business sign soon.

shifty henry July 8, 2014 at 11:44 pm

(A)… “It is but an infant right now. The preliminary process involves testing the market and honing content, based on audience reaction.”

———

That sounds to me like GT is changing diapers, having the baby poo analyzed for content and aroma, and then forcing his audience (no, lets make that his family) to give their opinions on said aroma and content.

(B).. ” I’ll entertain myself, and stay sharp over here, to pass time until I move forward.”
——–
That image is not only disturbing, but also creepy.

JohnQ July 9, 2014 at 7:46 am

Tis’ but an abortion of a website, not an infant.

To think T is a woman. Hard to believe such vile words and thoughts could come from a female. I’m going to have to reevaluate the pedestal I have placed women on.

That thing must have never been laid with that mouth. I wouldn’t wipe my ass with it.

No wonder T is so foul.

GrandTango July 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

Trite and empty insults, with no content other than hate, are a sure sign of the mindless and ignorant.

And in reality, that is what most of you are. You express contempt, w/o ever giving a basis for it, other than you are leftwing dolts, who are told to hate whatever is not like you.

GrandTango July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

There will be no abortions in the Tango media empire. We are Fu@K1n6 prolife. The retarded down syndrome blog with no legs and rectal cranial inversion will be kept alive on life support for many years until god calls her back home.

PattiAnne July 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm

GT is a woman? Really? That’s just wrong!! I pictured him as a fat, drooling 50-year old virgin living in the basement of his mother’s trailer. And with a nice name like Emily. Not Angus or Duncan? Geez.

MashPotato July 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm

This is why you are not supposed to feed trolls.

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Smirks July 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Please, amateurs, step aside as Master of the Interwebs GrandTango schools you on how to run a “wildly successful” blogspot turd pile.

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EJB July 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm

“WIS general manager Donita Todd – who is reportedly loathed by employees at the station”

She’s also loathed by people that aren’t particularly appreciative of her talking down on people watching her opinion pieces and telling them how they ought to live their lives. One instance that irked me was the opinion piece about the guy that won the $400MM lottery and her telling him how he ought to spend his money by spreading it around to what she thought were the best “programs” that could use help.

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Steven A. Smith July 8, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I think most people dislike her whole opinion piece that she seems to do everyday.

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Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 10:50 am

I think by “most” you meant “all.”

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shifty henry July 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Nice looking kids. But I notice that he is growing a ” Shadow.” Perhaps he is going to step in for Sic at public events, such as the grand openings of combination convenience stores/ gas stations. Like Balsak: “Yes, Shifty, I KNOW that my sign says ‘Open 24 Hours’ — but NOT in a row!”

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Bible Thumper July 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Is that his wife and toddler in high chair in the background?

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shifty henry July 8, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Could be, but then who took the photo?

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Norma Scok July 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Oh who gives a shit?

You’re worried about local news anchors getting canned? Slow news day? RUn out of TRav and talking about (maybe, maybe not) porking our fat and ugly indian guv’ner?

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Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 10:49 am

You obviously.

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Dennis July 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Donita Todd is the one that needs to go. Who told her that she had valid opinions.

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Steven A. Smith July 8, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Agreed

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Columbia News Hack July 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Some kid with high hopes of going to the network is paid minimum wage to write “Perspectives.” She’s usually off getting half-cocked by noon.

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Barry1234 July 8, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hoover stated today on facebook that he was happy at the station and a long term contract was not out of the question- and that he had already filmed promos for future months. So the “out of the blue” nature of this is true apparently.

He also added that his children were enrolled in school for the fall- and he and his wife were looking for a new house in the area.

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Tired and Retired July 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I concur regarding the unenforceability of non compete clauses in South Carolina. If the station did try to enforce it, think how much fun Hoover’s lawyers would have with the WIS statement that “we wish him the best in all of his future endeavors”. Yeah, sure.

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Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 10:49 am

It just has to be reasonable in time, distance, and scope to be enforceable.

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Tired and Retired July 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I agree that this is the generally stated rule, but have you ever seen one enforced against a former employee whose contract of employment was either terminated by the employer or, as in this case, not renewed? I practiced in SC for 38 years and never heard of that happening.

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Jackie Chiles July 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Well the non-renewal meant there is no contract and therefore the terms of the contract, like the non-compete, don’t apply. I’ve never heard of a non-compete applying when the contract ended on its own accord.

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Columbia News Hack July 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

They won’t go to court over it. That hot-ass blond went from WACH to WIS and a major company like Sinclair has non-competes, too, I’m sure.

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ButtPube July 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm

My view is, Donita should let them big ole titties get some air time.

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Manray July 8, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I think Sic has a crush on this guy.

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Thomas July 9, 2014 at 12:17 am

The whole corporate media in Columbia is smarmy milquetoast…except Dawndy Mercer. She is a first class act. I hope and pray she gets her pension and goes back to Indiana to live happily ever after. There is class and there is Indiana class. She has both.

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Brick Tamland July 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

Dawndy and Donita are always ganging up on me. They are big meanies.

“I ate a whole bunch of fibreglass insulation. It wasn’t cotton candy like that guy said… my stomach’s itchy!”

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Squishy123 July 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

https://www.facebook.com/KeepBenHoover

Keep Ben Hoover on WIS shared Ben Hoover’s status.
12 hours agoHere’s what I want you to know.

Right now, I don’t have a new job and I need to make sure future
employers and my community know why I was led to believe that my place
at WIS was secure.

I’ve worked in TV 15 years. I understand and
accept that stations have the right to not renew contracts. Especially
in situations when ratings might be down or the employee did something
wrong, or both sides couldn’t reach a
salary agreement. None of those issues applied to me. In fact when I
asked why my contract wasn’t being renewed station management assured me
I had “done nothing wrong.”

Please allow me to explain what I
meant when I said that I was caught off guard. News management had
recently slated me to do a follow up to “Hope in Hard Times” this coming
November, after my current contract would have expired. They also
planned to have a co-anchor with me in the field at Oliver Gospel
Mission. The week before I learned my contract would not be renewed I
taped station promotions that historically have run for several months.
We were far along in the search for a new house. My children were
enrolled in school for the fall. That’s why I walked in with a folder
with long-term contract options for management to consider. But, I never
had the opportunity to open that folder. There were no negotiations. It
was made clear that management did not wish to renew early on in that
discussion and that I had “done nothing wrong.”

My first
contract with WIS was 5 years. My latest contract was one year in
length. In both cases, both sides had to agree to terms. Some anchors
choose longer contracts. Some choose for even shorter than one year.
It’s a personal decision. Never was I told that a one year contract
would pave the way for my exit. In fact, we agreed to come back together
and discuss longer term options. If I entertained potential advancement
within the company, never did management indicate or communicate that
it would mean I would not be renewed. I have documented on multiple
occasions my happiness with my co-anchors at WIS and my openness to
calling Columbia my forever home. And, never in discussions did they
indicate that my future at WIS was not an option. In fact, I got a very
different response.

I truly appreciate the support from the
community. It helps tremendously to keep me going in this short amount
of time I have to find a new job. So, from where I sit today, I cannot
afford to let vague comments, including those by others outside of the
situation and not privy to the details, leave an impression that what
happened was something that I did or it was just a parting of ways.
That’s simply not true.

My announcement last Thursday was in
line with how I was trained, my high standards of journalism, and with
what’s been a big part of my career – doing the right thing. Viewers
don’t deserve to be caught off guard or wonder for weeks where someone
they’ve seen for 6 years has gone. And, nobody deserves to get half of
the truth. I’ve always put the viewer first. That’s what I will continue
to do. And, it is possible to do that while still being a loyal
employee.

I don’t know where my next job will take my family
and me. I’ve been put in a position to consider anything and everything.
Right now, Columbia is home. And, in order to move on both
professionally and personally I needed to fill in some blanks so that
there would not be any questions that could negatively impact my family
or my pursuit to find another job.

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neighbor July 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

When you think you’re having the worst day of anybody in the world, just remember, there’s a Mr. Todd. Poor guy.

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easterndumbfuckastan July 9, 2014 at 11:27 am

She has children which mean someone had sex with her. I’m going to go puke now, and that’s my perspective.

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Columbia News Hack July 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I’ve met him. He was some kind of network honcho who got kicked to the curb.
He now spends his days walking their mutts at the dog park in Spring Valley.

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Crooner July 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

Media consolidation leads to a lack of diversity in reporting on news and in particular news not flattering to those in power. Which makes internet news outlets and bloggers more important to our democracy. The traditional Fourth Estate has been infiltrated and compromised. Hence your issue with bent of former employer.

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easterndumbfuckastan July 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

Especially a company like Raycom who’s major investor is an arm of a state government. Their majority owner and only source of financing is the Retirement Systems of Alabama of which the Governor of Alabama is the chairman of the board of. That makes them have almost zero interest in rooting out corruption anywhere. Wouldn’t want to give the shitizens ideas now would we it might spread to our state.

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ELCID July 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Non-Compete Employee Contract Clauses are not legal in South Carolina.

Good luck Ben, try Charleston TV stations. Several X WIS News Broadcasters have successfully landed in Charleston in the Past.

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Sandy July 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I would agree, if he doesn’t have a contract, they didn’t renew his contract then a “no compete” could not apply

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Columbia News Hack July 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm

No judge in this town could seat a jury that would side with Raycom..

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Kathy July 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm

One would think Daneta Todd owned WIS? If she doesn’t then why is she still employed at WIS with years of mismanagement and poor decision making under her belt. When Ben Hoover news came across the lines I wrote and will continue to boycott WIS news, and now more so I will continue to boycott until Todd is terminated.

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Realitycheck September 6, 2014 at 8:45 am

This is just a case where a good ole boy got to big for his britches and bit the hand that feeds him. Nothing is promised to you. Welcome to the real world.

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