The Journal Gazette
Monday, February 18, 2019 1:00 am

Saltsberg calls Hall of Fame honor overwhelming


After 25 years as an on-air personality at WOWO Radio, Art Saltsberg was among those chosen to be inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.

But it wasn't something he was expecting.

“I had hoped that maybe someone would see me as worthy, but it hadn't happened,” Saltsberg said. “I got to be 70 years old and I didn't think it would happen. All of a sudden it did, and I was really overwhelmed by it.”

Saltsberg was listed along with five other honorees in last week's announcement. With the addition of the incoming class, there will be 117 members in the Hall of Fame.

Rita Price was also part of the 2019 Hall of Fame class. She has been on WRSW Warsaw for six decades, spending 46 years covering sports.

Already a member of the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Price said she's amazed when awards come her way.

“I have always loved my work so much, it is a great reward for me daily,” Price said. “I share this with the successful teams, coaches, players, athletic directors and fans that share their talents and encourage me daily.”

The Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association was founded in 1946, and its Hall of Fame program was created 50 years later.

The board meets every July to determine the next year's Hall of Fame honorees.

Criteria they look for include length of career, markets worked in, awards received and a general overview of a person's career.

Fred Inniger, treasurer for the association, said he nominated Saltsberg for his expansive career and impact on the Fort Wayne community.

“He's had such a positive impact on the Fort Wayne sport scene in a variety of ways,” Inniger said. “Simply what a gentleman. This guy has no enemies and has befriended everybody, he helps everybody, he's done everything and he's just a natural for the Hall of Fame.”

Although Saltsberg is mostly known for “Sports Talk,” a former longtime weeknight staple on WOWO, his love for radio and sports came much earlier in life when he was attending Miami University.

Like most college students, Saltsberg was still trying to figure out to do with the rest of his life after graduation. That changed during his junior year, when his uncle bought a radio station in his hometown of Winchester, Indiana.

That summer, he worked various jobs at the station, from talking on air to cleaning the building.

After attending one semester of graduate school at Indiana University, Saltsberg began job hunting in the broadcast business. He sent out 15 applications and heard back from three.

A station from Florida had given a flat-out no, but two other stations were interested. One was located in Windsor, Ontario, and the other was WOWO in Fort Wayne.

Saltsberg traveled to Windsor on a Sunday but had no luck. He interviewed with WOWO that same week on Tuesday, and by Friday, he had a job in the newsroom.

It was February 1970 when Saltsberg started at WOWO, and while he was a news broadcaster, his real interest was sports.

“I was working in the news department, but I made it clear that if I had a chance to do some sports broadcasting, I'd like to do that too,” Saltsberg said.

His chance came just a few years later, when he was asked to assist Dugan Fry in broadcasting the IHSAA basketball tournaments. 

This lasted for much of the decade, up until Saltsberg left the station in 1980 and went to work in television, reporting weekend news and sports for a few years.

He took a break from broadcasting altogether in 1983 and went into marketing, which led him to the Fort Wayne Fury of the Continental Basketball Association. 

In 1985, the radio business called him back, and WOWO offered him his own show, “Sports Talk.” Originally a once-a-week program, Saltsberg pushed to make it a nightly, hourlong show.

WOWO agreed, and Dean Pantazi joined the show as co-host.

The show received good ratings, eventually growing from one hour to two and stayed on Fort Wayne's airwaves for 15 years.

While doing “Sports Talk,” Saltsberg also worked in sales at the station and has been there ever since. He semiretired a few years ago but stills keeps his hand in sports by serving as analyst for Purdue Fort Wayne basketball.

“The fact that I've been in broadcasting in Fort Wayne for almost 50 years is another achievement,” Saltsberg said. “I never expected that would be the case. Like most people, I thought I'd be here for maybe five or 10 years and move on.”

Through the years, he has seen many familiar faces being inducted into the Hall of Fame, including his co-host, Pantazi.

With the honor finally becoming a reality, he can't help but feel humbled as he and five other honorees will be inducted April 7.

“The fact that I would be recognized with the sportscasting and journalistic greats over the years in the state of Indiana, it's really a humbling thing,” Saltsberg said. “I get a little emotional when I talk about it, because I have so much respect for all the people in the ISSA Hall of Fame.”

If you go

What: Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame

When: 2 p.m. April 7

Where: Valle Vista Country Club, Greenwood

Tickets: $30. To order, send a check to Fred Inniger, ISSA Treasurer, 3011 Noble Hawk Drive, Kendallville, IN 46755

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