News anchor returns as Fort Ligonier Days parade emcee
Hometown celebrity news anchor, Bill Brown, will once again take the stage as emcee on the Fort Ligonier Days parade reviewing stand on the Diamond.
“Bill brings so much to the event because he is a local boy, a Ligonier boy,” said Bill Stablein, Fort Ligonier Days committee co-chairman.
Stablein said Brown has a way of adding special information, not listed on the parade script, about the participants because he is from Ligonier.
“Bill talks about his town, his country,” said Stablein.
Stablein said Brown's wife, Kathy, is also an important part of the parade-day routine, ready to inform her husband of any last minute changes in the parade's order.
Brown has emceed the Fort Ligonier Days parade for nearly three decades. He also announced Ligonier Valley High School football games and is the emcee for Santa's Arrival and Diamond Lighting in Ligonier every year on the day after Thanksgiving.
Brown, who works as a caster at news station WJAC-TV, got his start in journalism much younger than most. While attending Ligonier Valley High School in the late 1960s, Brown took on an internship at the Ligonier Echo, where he covered school sporting events and local town meetings.
“It was very exciting for me,” Brown recalls. “I thought ‘this is what I wanted to do.'”
Brown took this initial inspiration and reporting opportunity and set out to unfurl his journalistic aspirations. He attended Penn State University, where he studied broadcast journalism.
He names his Echo editor, Terry Marolt, as a huge support and mentor in helping launch his early career.
“Terry proved to be very helpful; I learned how to cover things,” said Brown.
The two stayed in touch, even after Brown left his Echo post.
“The neat thing about it,” he said, “is that Terry became one of my best friends of all time.”
Brown also worked at the Tribune Review before beginning his on-air career at WJAC.
When comparing the differences between print and broadcast media, Brown still has much regard for his earlier craft.
“On television, we have pictures. In a newspaper, you have to explain; you have to give the whole story,” he said.
Brown's career on screen has certainly blossomed; aside from his casting duties, he has written and produced numerous sports and news specials and has received various awards recognizing his writing and reporting abilities. With such a solid background to buttress him, Brown could have easily sought out career opportunities anywhere, but decided not to abandon his roots. The self described “native son,” having grown up in Ligonier, made it his true lifelong home, along with his wife and daughter, Abby.
Though Brown boasts an impressive resume, and one that continues to grow, he still looks back on his days at the Ligonier Echo with fondness, gratitude and humility.
When asked about those old memories, Brown has nothing but the warmest praise and enthusiasm.
“I really appreciated working at the Echo, even though it was for a short time,” Brown concludes. “It taught me to be tactful and more understanding. It meant a lot to me.”
Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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