Hartman given chance to see Hall differently
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
June 07, 2012 01:20 AM | 1264 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Hartman’s career in sports spanned more than four decades in Atlanta and around the state prior to his retirement in 2008.

In that time, he received several regional Emmy Awards for excellence in broadcasting, and he was honored as the Georgia Sportscaster of the Year.

Hartman’s resume includes reports from Super Bowls, multiple World Series, college football bowl games and the 1996 Summer Olympics.

He’s also spent time as host of several Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and he was a member of its hall of fame selection committee.

Now, Hartman will be the one talked about.

The east Cobb resident was selected for induction into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, with the ceremony set for Saturday at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.

“I’ve worked with the committee on who goes into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, and I’ve spent time hosting the event,” Hartman said. “For me to be honored this way is unexpected and flattering. I know the caliber of people that have been inducted into the Hall, and to be included in the group of coaches and players and people that I’ve covered all of these years is like — wow. I’m just flattered.”

Born and raised in Athens, Hartman’s career began in 1965 as a senior at Athens High School. Upon realizing that he wasn’t going to start at quarterback for the school’s football team, he got a job working for the Athens Banner-Herald, served as sports editor of his school’s newspaper and was the public address announcer for the Athens High football team.

As a freshman at Georgia in 1966, Hartman covered the Bulldogs for the Atlanta Constitution and worked for two radio stations. He graduated from Georgia in 1970 and, just days later, took over for Bill Curry as an anchor on the WAGA-TV sports desk at age 21.

After spending eight months at WAGA, Hartman served in the Air Force and spent nearly two years at Hill Air Force Base in Utah before returning to be an assistant sports information director at Georgia in 1973.

The next year, he rejoined the WAGA staff as the station’s weekend sports anchor and remained there for 22 years before moving to WSB-TV. It was with Atlanta’s ABC affiliate that he worked for another 13 years before retiring.

“I worked at Channel 2 and lived in Buckhead, which was close to the television station,” Hartman said. “The year before I retired, I moved here to Cobb County, and I must say, I learned to feel for the Cobb residents who have to drive from here to north Atlanta and Buckhead.”

In retirement, Hartman has worked at WAGA on a part-time basis, covering the station’s weekly game of the week during the high school football season.

“I love high school football,” Hartman said. “I’ve been in broadcasting 39 years if you include my high school work during retirement. I’ll be 64 next month, and I’m probably one of the few granddads on the sidelines for games. It’s been great fun covering the games in the fall.”

Hartman’s fondest sports memories include the Atlanta Braves’ 1991 season, being on the field at the 1981 Sugar Bowl when Georgia won the national championship and watching Georgia win its first NCAA tennis championship in 1985.

“Those years are all special in their own way,” he said. “I had been covering the Braves since 1974, when they were nothing, and to see the team do well, and watch the way the city went crazy for them and transform during their 1991 season, was exciting.

“The tennis championship was incredible, too. I was in tears when they won. I worked for (then-coach) Dan Magill when I was in school, so to see the team go from a good Southeastern team to a national champion was a joy.”

Hartman has also found joy in having longevity in a profession driven by ratings.

“I guess I’ve found a way all of these years to appeal to the audience,” he said. “I’ve found a way to survive, and people have enjoyed watching and listening to me.”
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