Bud Kennedy

Fort Worth faceoff: Tamron Hall’s show premieres, but she’s up against Kelly Clarkson

She went from Stop Six & Fort Worth to New York and TV: Now it’s the ‘Tamron Hall’ show

The former 'Today' host sets out to unify a divided nation and launch her own Disney syndicated variety show.
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The former 'Today' host sets out to unify a divided nation and launch her own Disney syndicated variety show.

Tamron Hall grew up in Fort Worth, on one of the toughest streets in the city’s vicious 1980s crime wave.

Now, she has her own TV show.

From her days as a star student and track sprinter at Polytechnic High School to a career as an NBC news anchor, her life is an incredible story of persistence and spirit.

Beginning Sept. 9, she will tell her story and her guests’ daily on “Tamron Hall.”

Coincidentally, it premieres on KTVT/Channel 11 here opposite Fort Worth-born singer Kelly Clarkson’s new show on KXAS/Channel 5.

Both have roots and relatives in Fort Worth and Burleson. Both have national TV shows.

“There’s room at the table for another Texan,” Hall said on a recent trip home, adding that she and Clarkson both bring a “diverse” voice.

When Hall said diverse, she didn’t mean race.

“It’s geography!” said Hall, 48, on a recent visit to KTVT, her old station.

“I went to college in Philadelphia. That’s 1,528 miles from my parents’ front step in Stop Six,” her home neighborhood.

“I ran into people who had never met a Texan. We started having conversations.”

That spurred the show’s slogan: “Talk That Brings Us Together.”

“All of us talk about being Cowboys or Rangers fans, or whether we had barbecue or Mexican food for lunch,” she said.

“But there’s all this other stuff we think we can’t talk about.”

Hall has plenty to say. She’s the new mom of a 4-month-old with husband Steve Greener, a film producer.

Her show is produced by fellow Texan Bill Geddie, co-creator of “The View.” It’s distributed by Disney.

“We’re doing fashion,” she said. “We’re doing motherhood. We’re doing life.”

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On a homecoming visit to KTVT/Channel 11, Tamron Hall teared up when reporter Steve Pickett showed her coverage of the 1997 Jarrell tornado. KTVT/Channel 11, @CBSDFW

I’m embarrassed to say this, but the Star-Telegram has written about Hall only a handful of times.

She grew up on Stalcup Road in Stop Six, dangerous gang territory in the 1980s.

Her Army veteran stepfather, the late Clarence “Sarge” Newton, kept an eye on Hall and her siblings as a school campus monitor. Her mother, Mary, worked for the Tandy Corp. and taught elementary school.

With that family at home, it figures that one of the big influences in her life was a teacher.

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In 2016, Tamron Hall co-anchored NBC Today with Billy Bush, Al Roker and (here) guest Kate McKinnon. NBC Peter Kramer/NBC

English and drama teacher Ernestine Rose shaped the future of more than one journalist, civic leader who came through Polytechnic in the 1980s.

“Everybody said Ms. Rose was the toughest teacher in the building — impossible to deal with,” Hall said.

Rose turned literature classes into a drama lesson. She set Langston Hughes’ poems to a rap beat.

“She was this most loving and insightful teacher — she taught me to open my eyes,” Hall said.

“She taught the same things I want to bring to the show — how you can have sensibility and worldliness without being elitist.”

Hall swung past Poly on the visit home, but school was out for summer.

She comes home to see family members, and sometimes for services at Beth Eden Baptist Church.

And for Tex-Mex food.

“I am a Tex-Mex and Mexican food snob,” she said with a grin.

“I am against all Mexican food sold outside the state of Texas.”

Sounds like a good show.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 16 Texas Legislature sessions. First on the scene of a 1988 DFW Airport crash, he interviewed passengers running from the burning plane. He made his first appearance in the paper before he was born: He was sold for $600 in the adoption classifieds.
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