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Past Television Career

News Stories And Outtakes

     Robert Hilliard, Steve Lee and Bobby Perdue leave KLTV
     Ken Bora Jury Selection - Robert Hilliard Photographer
     Robert Hilliard School Board news story outtakes
     Sailing - Robert Hilliard Reporting
     Stage Violence - Robert Hilliard Reporting
     Tie Spoof with KTBB
     Texas Cyclone - Robert Hilliard Reporting
     Weed Bust In Smith County - Robert Hilliard Reporting
     Past Video Resume for Robert Hilliard

From 1972 until 1986, I was involved in the wonderful world of Television.

Robert Hilliard in 1972 (17 years of age) on the studio set of KLTV News.
Ah the memories!

The days and nights chasing car wrecks, fires and ambulances. The time spent shooting and writing human interest stories. It all began on a dark, stormy night in 1972. Well, it wasn't dark or stormy, but it was August of 1972.

I was hired as a part-time studio camerman at Channel 7, KLTV-TV in Tyler, Texas. I was 17 years old, still in high school and looking for a life of excitement and a promising career. After working for a local grocery chain the previous year, I asked my vocational teacher at John Tyler High School, Tyler, Texas, if there were any exciting jobs available. A couple of months later, I found myself working behind a camera the size of my bedroom in a studio located in a refurbished airplane hanger. Eventually, I worked at just about every job there was at KLTV...Cameraman, Technical Director,

    Robert running studio camera at KLTV (1972).
Newsman, Anchorman and Assistant News Director. I loved every minute of it.

I involved myself in many human interest stories such as the documentary on the New London School Disaster. I met and photographed President Gerald Ford when he visited Tyler. And let's not forget Ronald Reagan, who came to Tyler campaigning for the Presidency. I learned to use a myriad of camera equipment in 16mm film as well as video cameras and videotape. I became friends with and worked alongside a number of dedicated individuals such as Michael and Sandra Brown, Joan Hallmark, Bobby Perdue, Steve Lee, Dena Marks,

Robert shooting a story from a Tyler refinery about the process of producing gasoline (1975).

Barry Hanson, Phil Burks and a host of others. I'm glad I got to know and work alongside all of them.

We all strive to move up the ladder and better ourselves. I certainly was no exception. For a number of years I pursued my dream of working in the Dallas/Ft. Worth television market. I applied at all of the stations and eventually was offered an Editor/Videographer position at KDFW-TV, Channel 4 in Dallas which was the CBS affiliate at the time. I was ecstatic when Channel 4 offered me the job. Now, I had the opportunity to get into the Dallas area and work for a major TV station. My ultimate career dream had always been to work for Belo Broadcasting at WFAA-TV, Channel 8, but that never materialized.

At this same time Bobby Perdue, Steve Lee and I were seriously talking about leaving KLTV to start our own production company in Tyler. So, I had to make a decision. Go with Channel 4 or go with Bobby and Steve. After a lot of soul-searching, I made the decision to leave KLTV and start LPH Productions, Inc. with Bobby and Steve. It was the first independently owned production company in East Texas. As you might have guessed, the name 'LPH' came from Lee, Perdue and Hilliard.

Robert shooting in the Canadian peat bogs for a horticulture show near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (1981).
In 1983, I sold my portion of ownership in LPH to Steve and Bobby and went to work for Texas Publishing Company in Tyler. They owned a low power television station in Cumby, Texas known as Channel 18. Itching to get into the newest craze in television, I went to work in Cumby. Where is Cumby, Texas you ask? Well, it's between Greenville and Sulphur Springs, Texas on Interstate 30. I began with the title of Production Manager, but later, found myself managing the station. Eventually, I was the last employee to report to work. It gets pretty lonely operating a television station by yourself. I did that for a month before I was transferred. There were several people I worked with that I still think about from time-to-time. Jeff Miller, the all-round good guy, Ray Campbell who kept things lively but in check and Donna Simmons, the News Director. Donna had enough energy to keep us all going. I worked with Jim, Terry, Mark, Karen, Chevy, Lisa, Christie and a host of others. Channel 18 went off the air in 1984. The tower, out back has since been dismantled and the building used to house a funeral home. Now, it serves as office space for a construction company.

Promo for Channel 18 mainly to introduce all the staff. (Thanks to Tom Campbell for this video)

Robert directing a live program from the Channel 18 Production Van (1983).
I was then transferred back to Tyler, Texas where I was put in charge of starting a LPTV station called Channel 2, The Rose Channel. Unfortunately, it never made it on the air. Very few people even knew about Channel 2. Lack of money kept us from completing the project. I really hated the fact that we couldn't finish getting that station on the air. It was the first time, I had been allowed to plan a TV station from the ground up and I was looking forward to getting it off and running. Channel 2 had the best of everything in facilities and equipment. For some reason, the Gods of Television frowned on its fruition.

In 1985, after having my fill of LPTV stations, I was offered a job as Station Manager of a new full power TV station that was going on the air in East Texas. KTRG, Channel 56 was to be the new NBC affiliate for Tyler and Longview and showed a lot of promise.

I was hired by the owner, Thomas Robert Gilchrist, (hence the TRG of KTRG) and for a short time, all seemed to be going well. I traveled to New York and helped Thomas Robert negotiate a contract with NBC and I made plans for buying equipment and hiring personnel. Good things always come to an end and this project was no exception. It appeared that Robert Gilchrist had filed for bankruptcy right after he hired me. I wasn't aware of his financial situation until the bankruptcy court sent representatives to the office to seize assets. I was asked by the bankruptcy court to oversee the operations of the TV station and 10 small cable companies that Robert Gilchrist owned until suitable buyers were found to purchase the assets. Buyers did come along eventually and the station made it on the air. You know it today as KETK-TV, Channel 56.

Needless to say, after the Gilchrist bankruptcy, I decided I'd had my fill of television. I felt a change was in order. It was the Spring of 1986 and I was ready for a fresh, new start in a more stable career. I went back to college and received my bachelor's degree in Industrial Technology from The University of Texas at Tyler in 1991. I went on to receive my master's degree in 1997. While attending school, I quickly placed myself into the wonderful world of computers and computer programming and I haven't looked back. For over 30 years, I've worked in the Information Technology field. It's been rewarding and I'm glad I made the change.

Don't get me wrong, the television profession is a good one. There are thousands that work in and love this profession and they are a credit to their craft. May the Angel of the Airwaves be with all of them. As for me? I harbor no regrets. Sometimes destiny has a funny way of letting us know that change is sometimes needed and inevitable.

President Gerald Ford visits Tyler in 1976. Robert Hilliard is filming in the middle, Horace McQueen is reporting at the right.

Robert Hilliard running camera at KLTV, Channel 7.
Circa 1972.

Robert Hilliard and Hal Collins running camera at KLTV, Channel 7.

Robert Hilliard running camera at KLTV, Channel 7.
John Bass (Left) and Ralph Johnson on set.

Robert Hilliard running camera. Studios were located at the corner of Loop 323 and East Erwin.

The Weekender - Behind The Scenes At KLTV
Supplement to the Longview Post dated July 17, 1975

Special thanks to Phil Burks for providing this document


Hilliard Television Montage