Bill Anderson

VP & General Manager - KRQE

If you asked someone for business advice and personal relationship advice, would you expect this answer?? - “Proverbs: ‘A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.’ There’s something more valuable about a person’s word, their reputation, than great riches. It’s extremely biblical to want to be a truth-teller, it also happens to be a thing that drives business - to have a reputation for pursuing the truth. I think the truth is valued by everybody, and it’s in short supply.” 

This was told to me by New Mexico’s own, Bill Anderson. Bill started as a production intern in television in 1979, and has been the President, Station Manager, GM, and Director of Production, and more for many companies over the years. His career as a broadcast TV general manager fired off with his success in creating Flood Aid: Broadcast Across America in 1993. Flood Aid would end up raising $8.5M in one night, and Bill would earn an Emmy from it too. Today he’s the VP and General Manager of KRQE, a company he has been with for over 20 years. (Bill is so humble that I know he would try and make this sound less accomplished - but I love getting to talk about it!)

Bill is a living example of how someone so accomplished and powerful can embody a kind of selfless dedication to something bigger than himself - be that business, or promoting the well-being of others. “I think our real power comes from trying to do the right thing,” he said, “because we’re trying to change the world.” And Bill plans on how his co-workers will be able to carry on the vision they have at KRQE even after he is gone: “I’m always supposed to be developing leaders - my own exit strategy. Even if it’s decades away… I’m really energized by the thought, and what a privilege it is, for someone to say “I will work for you.” There’s an exchange of a promise - that if it all goes well, “I’m going to give you half my life, in a day, in a week, in a career, and for that I want you to fight for me.” We ask our people “Where do you want to go with us? And don’t be afraid to say ‘not here’.” 

Colt: Is it hard when they say ‘not here’? 

Bill: No. I tell every new employee: ‘you know what would be amazing? If when we’re done working together, whatever that means, whenever that is, if you are so good that I can’t hang on to you because either I can’t afford you, or I can’t put you in a position equal to your talent.’ Then I’ll feel like I did what I said we would do.

Colt: It’s like you owe it to your people that if you were to disappear they could carry on.

Bill: I’m serious about this. Success is succession. 

What amazes me about Bill and the legacy he has built at KRQE is the kind of discipline he has toward doing the right thing for the right reason, and not for fame or wealth or ego. I TRIED to uncover Bill’s driving motivation with my next question —

Colt: If you had a single message you would leave with your viewers what would you tell them? 

Bill: I don’t know… I’m not that important. Honestly, I… Everything I really care about is in our news promos. I’m not ducking your question or trying to fake some kind of humility. I’m just saying really: Nobody cares. 

Colt: I’ve never had someone respond that way. 

Bill: I would rather use that time to prove - because people are so cynical - that we really mean it. We’re not perfect, but we’re really aiming for it. We’re trying to have courage in our journalism. My way of proceeding through business is: rational planning, emotional execution. People get those backwards. It becomes emotional decision making, and the egos of managers. I’ve surrounded myself with gunslingers. And what I mean by that is that me, and everyone else, are getting shot at 24/7 from different angles. But I have people I work with who see the world like I do - which is to not take your eye off the target. 

The ending of our talk was my favorite: 

Colt: I don’t know if you remember when we met a couple years ago, and you gave me a tour of the station. 

Bill: Oh of course! Are you kiddin’ me? — I’m a fan of your show. 

*Colt blushes*

Colt: I remember doing the walkthrough with you and you talking about gunfire coming from each direction…and focusing on just one thing… And you still brought it up again today.

Bill: I still mean it.