Former WIS evening news anchor Ben Hoover will be missing from Columbia’s airwaves for at least a year -- and he might have signed off for good.
Hoover, who was released from Columbia’s NBC affiliate after his final broadcast on July 4, told The State that he is looking for employment “both in and out of TV at this point.”
If he does return to broadcast, local viewers won’t see Hoover behind the news desk for at least a year due to a non-compete clause in his contract with WIS.
A non-compete clause bars an employee from entering a similar trade that competes with the party issuing the contract. For Hoover, that trade would be anything TV, radio or cable related.
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“Because of that non-compete, I can’t do what I was doing for WIS at another station for a whole year,” Hoover said. “It’s really all kind of still being worked out as far as what I can and can’t do, but as of right now that non-compete is in effect.”
Non-compete clauses are based on the premise that in the event of an employee’s termination or resignation, the employee might begin working for a competitor, possibly exploiting their former employer’s confidential information and trade secrets.
The clause has made Hoover’s job hunt that much more difficult.
“I’ve had some bites from some different media outlets both inside and outside the market, and (the non-compete clause) restrains you from doing a lot of different things, but it’s just the life of TV, I guess.”
Hoover still doesn’t know what the future holds for him and his family, but he hopes to return to a station in Columbia when the one-year broadcast suspension is lifted.
“You know, this is our home. We’ve been here for six years. We have our roots here. We’re very settled, so we’d like for that to happen,” he said.
Hoover spoke to a few dozen patrons on Tuesday at an International Association of Business Communicators mini-conference centered around how to “Leverage Your Communication Power” at the Palmetto Club.
He spoke of a story he did last year on Eliza O’Neill, a young girl with Sanfilippo Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that slowly degenerates the mind and body. The research for a cure was halted during the government shutdown.
Hoover not only broke the story -- he pushed to make it go viral. After phoning a friend at MSNBC (former WIS anchor Craig Melvin) and getting a professional filmmaker to shoot a video for her gofundme.com page, Hoover got Eliza’s story all the way to the Today Show.
“It feels like you’re doing some good. When I first went over to their house to cover the story, I didn’t do it with the intentions of having a story that would go national,” Hoover said. “It feels good to be able to be that anchor, that reporter that’s able to get out there and tell stories like Eliza’s.”
It’s a feeling that Hoover might not know again.