Before he retired a few years ago, Bill Ratliff was the consummate anchorman. He had the anchorman voice, the anchorman clothes, the anchorman look ... but don't be fooled ... he was no Ron Burgundy.
Bill was much more.
I met him 30 years ago when we partnered with Channel 8 and joined the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Bill and I traveled to Salt Lake City to meet with the folks who put the national show together.
We went to workshops and learned about everything from telethon production to volunteer management. Bill sat in talent sessions to hear from other local anchors about interview techniques. He was patient and professional. I'm sure he knew everything they taught but pretended he heard it for the first time.
It wasn't all work.
One morning after a night of drinking a wee bit too much, Bill and I went to eat breakfast in the hotel bar. We squeezed into the bar stools that were placed tightly against the bar and loudly complained about how dumb it was to build a bar with stools that gave you no room to move.
One of the waitresses came over to talk to us when she heard how uncomfortable we were. "Sir?" She told Bill, "If you stand up, you can pull these stools out so that you can have more room."
"Thank you ma'am," Bill said sheepishly. "We were ... um ... just about to do that."
Bill Ratliff died on Monday. He was 63. Rest in peace, my friend.