A Farewell to WTHR’s Jim Tellus


The local TV world lost a very good GM and an even better guy when WTHR Indianapolis’ Jim Tellus died earlier this month of an apparent heart attack.

I speak with a ton of station general managers in this business, but got to know Jim a lot better than most, because WTHR is something of a model station, and because Jim was always forthright—whether it was positive stuff like the station’s success or a more thorny matter such as The Jay Leno Show’s effect on his late news.

A former news director, Jim always called me back and always offered honest answers to tough questions.

I got to know him a bit two years ago when I was reporting a cover story on NBC affiliates that dominate despite not getting much help in primetime; the story begins with Jim reading off February 2008 sweeps results to his staff, then celebrating alongside them with some dessert trays and other goodies. He got a genuine kick out of sharing the good news with his crew, who he always seemed to credit for WTHR’s success.

“It was one of those times when people didn’t want to head back to their respective corners of the station,” Tellus told me at the time. “They didn’t want to lose the moment.”

More recently, we spoke about the cadre he was sending to Vancouver for the Olympics, as well as Indianapolis’ undying fanaticism for its Colts.

Despite all our phone convos, I never actually met Jim in person. I imagine he was a good guy to work for. I’ll miss his perspective on local television, and I’ll miss his friendship. “This is a family and Jim was certainly an important part of this family,” said Dispatch CEO and NBC affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile on the WTHR site. “Jim just had a real passion for everything he did. We’re just gonna miss him.”