A man who possibly had the most famous voice from Valdosta has passed away.
“‘The Troll’ is the most famous voice to ever come from Valdosta, heard by almost any American alive in the 1980s, and few people know who he is,” said Merrill Guice of Valdosta.
William “Bill” Tullis spent 20-plus years at Ted Turner’s WTBS in Atlanta, the cable television station that went nationwide as the Superstation. He also provided early voice work for CNN.
Tullis died Aug. 7, according to A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home, Atlanta. He was 58.
Known by his self-given nickname, “Troll,” Tullis was a native Valdostan, Guice said, graduating from Valdosta High School.
He “used to ride his bike to watch them turn on the plates at WVLD-AM,” Guice said. “He created most of the tapes that ran every day on Valdosta’s first progressive rock station Blue Phrog Radio (now WAAC-FM). He was the first music director for WVVS-FM at Valdosta State.”
Supposedly, by the age of 6, Tullis had already developed an interest in broadcasting, according to a January 2005 Music Morsels article on him.
“I always had the obsession with broadcasting, but I also had a love of music to go along with it,” Tullis said in the article. “I was self taught with everything that I did and was never really an intern because I was always working somewhere. I knew what I wanted to do so early on that I already had my education when it was time to go get a real job.”
Tullis attended military schools as a youth before returning to Valdosta to finish his last year of high school. He enrolled in Valdosta State, where he helped found the college radio station that continues to this day.
In 1974, he left Valdosta for Atlanta.
“To the best of our knowledge, besides running his own state-of-the-art studio, Troll only worked for a really long stretch at two ‘traditional’ employers after WVVS-FM in Valdosta: WPLO-FM, Atlanta’s progressive radio station under the very talented Ed Shane in the ’70s, followed by what would be his decades-long tour de force at Turner Broadcasting (later CNN),” according to a tribute to Tullis on Atlantasidestreets.com
Guice shares a story explaining why Tullis stayed with Turner Broadcasting for so long.
“Tullis decided in the ’80s that he was going to leave Turner Networks and move to California to pursue his dream of being a record producer,” Guice said. “The day he handed in his resignation, Ted Turner called him up to his office, doubled his salary, and told him to stay. Bill went back to his office, thought about it, then called Ted to turn him down. Ted then doubled his salary again. And that’s how Bill came to stay in Atlanta.”
Tullis had many audio-related responsibilities with Turner, but his also became the familiar voice heard during TBS’ station identification, a voice heard by more people as the Superstation became a cable-television staple across the nation.
Still, it was a job with its own unique frustrations. He told Mark E. Waterbury with Music Morsels: “Work is play and play is work. There were a lot of daily challenges, and sometimes it got a bit crazy when someone at CNN would call you at 4 in the morning telling you they needed a piece of music by 8. But I enjoyed working there as much as anyone could enjoy what they have a passion for.”
Tullis spent 26 years with Turner before being part of a downsizing move in 2002. He continued working for Turner but as a free agent. He formed All TV Music, a company that placed music in broadcast and sports organizations.
Through the years, Tullis also produced records, in some cases simply as “Troll,” “The Troll,” or “Dr. Troll.” No one had an immediate explanation for why he called himself Troll, but he is reportedly “The Troll” mentioned in the acknowledgments for the Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Rock and Roll Alternative” album.
More recently, he reportedly endured health problems, according to Atlantasidestreets.com
“Troll existed on the very serious side of smart, effortlessly orbiting in the realm of genius,” according to the Atlantasidestreets.com tribute. “But he was also a very kind, generous man who wore that genius lightly, unobtrusively around others. People enjoyed his company, being with him … around him. The Good Book says it best: ‘He wasn’t puffed up.’”
Funeral services for Tullis were held last week.