COLUMBIA, SC — WIS on Sunday released a statement about the departure of former anchor Ben Hoover, who told fans he was leaving the station Friday.
Here is the statement:
"During the last several days much has been posted on social media about Ben Hoover's departure from WIS news, much of it erroneous.
However, we simply cannot engage in a public conversation regarding details of Ben's departure from WIS TV. It is a private personnel matter.
We sincerely thank Ben for his service to the station and the community and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
We also want to thank our viewers for their concerns and comments regarding this matter.
We can assure you that WIS remains fully committed to the excellence you have come to expect from this television station over the last 60 years."
About 30 people gathered on the corner of Bull and Gervais Street Friday night outside the WIS studios to protest the decision not to renew Hoover’s contract.
“I don’t know why they didn’t renew his contract,” said Kelli Feathers, one of the many who turned out to show her support for Hoover. “And then to not give him the opportunity to have his last broadcast is why we came out.”
After Thursday’s evening broadcast, Hoover informed his Facebook readers that Friday would be his last day on the air at channel 10. But Hoover was noticeably absent from the WIS lineup Friday night.
“Recently, I was informed by station managers that they did not wish to renew my contract,” he wrote on Thursday.
He admitted that the decision by WIS not to renew his contract took him unawares.
“I wish I was in a position to announce the next opportunity for my family and me. But, to be honest, I didn't see this one coming.
So, as we like to say on the news, you'll have to stay tuned. And, maybe say a little prayer for my family and me.”
Reaction to the news flowed quickly in comments to his posting with praise of his work and condemnation of management’s decision. By Friday evening a protest to coincide with the station’s 10:30 broadcast had been organized.
As drivers heading down Gervais Street honked horns or yelled out windows in support, people gathered on the sidewalk talked about the chemistry Hoover had with fellow anchor Judi Gatson.
Longtime WIS watchers Paula Hite and Carol Sloop, of Irmo, said they both enjoyed the way they played off each other.
“I think it’s sad the way it’s been handled,” said Sloop of the decision not to renew Hoover’s contract. “But the amount of support that’s out here tonight is amazing.”
Calls and emails from The State to WIS general manager Donita Todd went unreturned Friday. The statement was posted on WIS's web page mid-afternoon Sunday.
Follow the discussion on Ben Hoover's Facebook page
A KeepBenHoover facebook page took form after the announcement.: Keep Ben Hoover