Not that he lacks suitors. With his brown eyes, square jaw and habit of alternating between telling stories about, say, his former frat brother Chip and stories about his dear mom, Mr. Hemmer conveys a white-picket-fence charm.
The heartland is full of homebodies who consider him a heartthrob. Andrea McEnaney, a 46-year-old resident of Columbus, Ohio, runs a chat room called Hemmerobilia. “He’s a very nice-looking man,” said Ms. McEnaney. “The majority of the women on there, discussing Bill Hemmer, are middle-aged. We don’t look at him as sexy, but if he propositioned us, we would have to stop and think about it for a minute.”
For the past several years, Ms. McEnaney has been drawing a comic strip called The Adventures of Chad Cleanly, revolving around the tribulations of a character based on Mr. Hemmer. Soon she intends to self-publish a book of the comics along with a foreword sportingly provided by Mr. Hemmer himself.
Back in the restaurant, Mr. Hemmer said that despite his clean-cut image, he’s not averse to getting out into the field when a big news story breaks.
“Even before he got to CNN, he always liked to travel the world,” said Ms. Kagan. “The thing I would always tease Bill about, some people drop names, Bill drops places. ‘Oh, when I was in Bangladesh …’ The more obscure the better.”
Not that he ever gets tired of talking about his hometown, said Ms. Kagan. “One of the first things Bill ever told me,” she recalled, “was that all roads lead to Cincinnati—or as he calls it ‘the Nati.’”
But Mr. Hemmer is comfortable with his decision to stay in the big city. Still, he added: “It’s when you stutter or move with a sense of indecision that you start to feel the pressure of New York around you.”