Balleza's illustrious TV career started as a gamble.
After serving three years in the Marine Corps (including 13 months in Vietnam where he was positioned as a scout/sniper), broadcasting was a degree Balleza's guidance counselor at San Antonio College advised him not to pursue. The reason, at the time in the late 1960s, Balleza says few Hispanics were working in the industry.
"I chose broadcasting anyway because there was no math requirement, and I had flunked algebra twice in high school," Balleza told mikemcguff.com.
Graduating with a degree he never expected to use, Balleza did manage to land a job on the floor crew at his hometown station KSAT San Antonio. And then Balleza says his big break came.
"Stations around the country were looking for minority candidates because activist groups began challenging their licenses based on employment practices," Balleza told me. "My first reporter job was at KRON in San Francisco in May of 1971."
Houston's own KHOU 11 hired the young Balleza as a reporter in 1973.
Balleza moved to KPRC in 1980, following the legendary Ron Stone as main anchor in 1990.
"Looking back, algebra might be the main reason my career will span 50 years when I retire in June of 2021," Balleza joked.
And on that summer five years from now, Houston viewers will say goodbye to another television legend. But hey, maybe we can twist his arm to sign another five year extension!
- KPRC 2 claims top spot in November 2016 sweeps
- KPRC 2 launches new graphics package 2016
KPRC's official release:
KPRC 2 EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH VETERAN EVENING NEWS ANCHOR BILL BALLEZA
Emmy-Winning Journalist’s Career Spans More Than Four Decades
Houston, TX: KPRC 2 is proud to announce longtime news anchor Bill Balleza has renewed his commitment to Houston news viewers with a contract extension into 2021.
Balleza, who joined KPRC 2 in August of 1980, began his career as a reporter at San Francisco’s KRON-TV in July of 1971. With his contract extension, Balleza is set to reach a milestone of 50 years in television broadcasting.
“We are delighted that our viewers can continue to count on Bill, who they’ve known and trusted as a leader in the Houston community for more than 35 years,” said KPRC 2 VP/General Manager, Jerry Martin. “His energy and presence at the anchor desk represents the gold standard in the broadcast industry. I know our viewers join me in my enthusiasm as they welcome Bill into their homes on KPRC 2 News well into the future.”
Balleza anchors KPRC 2 News at 5pm, 6pm and 10pm, Monday through Friday.
“I am so grateful to be part of such a great news organization with such dedicated and caring professionals,” said Balleza. “I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to report news in the most dynamic and diverse city in America. The Houston area is a great place to live, and I’m so proud to have called Houston home for most of my adult life.”
KPRC 2 News at 10 with Bill Balleza, Dominique Sachse, Frank Billingsley and Randy McIlvoy is a consistent ratings leader and scored a dominant victory during the November 2016 Nielsen measurement period with a 2.7 rating representing a full point advantage over the nearest competitor (Adults 25-54 based on Nielsen Live + SD overnights, Monday-Friday for the measurement period of October 27, 2016 through November 23, 2016).
A native Texan, Balleza graduated from San Antonio College. He is a Vietnam veteran who served as a Marine Scout Sniper during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Balleza’s remarkable journalism career has found him covering historic events like the Murrah Federal Building explosion in Oklahoma City, the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the election of Pope Francis and much more. He won an Emmy for his reporting on the deadly fertilizer company explosion in West, TX.