Celebrating Hamptons Celebrities: Bill Hemmer
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pressed anchor news personality Bill Hemmer into double duty at Fox News Channel. In addition to hosting America’s Newsroom with Dana Perino on weekdays from 9–11 a.m., viewers can now find Hemmer contributing guest spots early in the morning, and during the evening on shows such as Tucker Carlson or Hannity.
“I do a lot of preparation so that nothing surprises me if something happens,” he says. “While I am live on the air, I can manage it because I know something about it to ask the appropriate questions. If I want to cover this right, this takes a lot of study about the detail, watching all sorts of videos online, reading for a long time.”
In his presentations, Hemmer is reluctant to predict and favors reporting.
“I want our audience to know that we have given them a fair and honest assessment on the biggest issues for that day,” he says.
Hemmer was born and raised in Cincinnati and still makes an annual visit there for a special event to benefit the senior center that took care of his grandparents. He hosts the George Knittle Memorial Bayley Place Golf Classic named in honor of his grandfather, George F. Knittle, which benefits Bayley Senior Living. Knittle died at the age of 100 in 2003.
Hemmer’s upbringing was shaped by being a Roman Catholic parochial school student. “At 11 a.m. mass Sunday mornings, all seven Hemmers were in the pew,” he recalls. He continues to practice his Catholic faith.
After graduating from Miami University in Ohio, he began his career in Ohio local television news. He logged several years at CNN before moving to Fox News Channel in 2005.
One circumstance during the Ukraine invasion the past several weeks which had an impact on him.
“I watched a man who walked out of a building, which was just hit with a missile,” Hemmer says. “He was scanning the street with his iPhone. Shrapnel everywhere with several women screaming, just killed, dead, missing limbs. I tried to avoid watching it … it stuck with me for a while.”
“They were the troika when I was growing up,” Hemmer says. “Then there is Christiane Amanpour for her reporting on Yugoslavia during the 1990s.”
Sag Harbor has become Hemmer’s oasis. From Manhattan “which is concrete and steel” he began exploring Southampton and Bridgehampton locations.
“Amagansett and Montauk seemed too far away,” he says. He decided Sag Harbor was the best community.
“The waterway and the harbor are important to me,” he adds. “I like my backyard … my beautiful garden …my complete privacy … my Sag Harbor retreat became a true refuge from the television news grind during COVID.”
His downtime includes unwinding at Sag Harbor spots such as the American Hotel.
A dozen Peconic oysters on the half shell, and a fine beer at the American, and he is in heaven. He can’t say enough about the American Hotel from the staff to the food, including table 51.
“Page at 63 Main Restaurant is great for a burger and televised football,” he notes. “Murf’s Backstreet is good on a Friday night … then there’s The Corner Bar,” although he’s disappointed they no longer have Stella on draft.
Hemmer earned his sailing certificate at the Sag Harbor Sailing School. He joined Barton & Gray Mariners Club during the pandemic.
Is Hemmer reporting on the news from his domicile like many of his contemporaries have done as part of their response to COVID?
“I guess I’m a sucker,” he sighs. “I never left the office. I kept coming in as a personal decision. I tried a few shows from Sag Harbor, and I can’t say I enjoyed it. During COVID cable, the audience has been forgiving allowing us to produce that product. The ratings have been enormous during COVID, and similar for the Ukraine war. I like being around people in the workplace.”