Bob Chase was recently honored with one of sport’s most prestigious honors, the Lester Patrick Award for service to hockey. It is fitting he has finally received his long overdue recognition, but there are others who have also made significant contributions to our community who have not been fully recognized. Such a man is Art Saltsberg. Art has served our community in radio and television for five decades.
On Jan. 25, 1978, Art, then news director of WOWO radio (1190-AM), realized the possibility of a catastrophic blizzard crippling Fort Wayne. Instead of going home and letting others worry about it, he rented a room at the Travel Lodge. When his worst fears were realized, he tunneled his way back to the studio and joined the stranded night crew to provide unequalled around-the-clock coverage until reinforcements could arrive. For Art it was entirely typical, just another three days at the office.
Those of us who follow sports, however, will remember Art as the pioneer of the finest sports talk show the area has ever seen and likely ever will see. While WOWO news director, he founded a twice-weekly call-in sports show in 1977 with Ron Gregory. Later, after leaving WOWO, he reprised the show in Auburn before returning to WOWO in November 1985. He and Dean Pantazi became the gold standard for nightly sports talk and, in the judgment of this writer, created the most entertaining sports show in this area’s history.
Art and Dean did it differently. They treated each caller as a welcome guest and refused to belittle them to make themselves look clever or smart as was the custom on most national shows. Their shows were always upbeat, informative and even occasionally spiced with a bit of trivia, in short, always enjoyable.
They worked with a variety of producers and often had to do the legwork themselves despite having full-time careers in other realms. Throughout the history of the program, Sports Talk was must listening for sports fans in the tri-state area. Because of WOWO’s 50,000-watt signal, sports fans across the eastern United States and Canada were grafted into the WOWO sports community.
Art’s powerful voice and smooth delivery are self-evident, but it is his indisputable integrity that still makes him in heavy demand as a commercial spokesman. If Art endorses a product one can be sure he believes in it and uses it himself. While Bob Chase is the unquestioned icon of Fort Wayne sports, let’s not forget the contribution of others such as Art Saltsberg. Thank you, Art, for a job well done.
Each day the tigers watched and waited and hoped. Then it finally happened. Nothing tastes better than a dream come true.