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Art Saltsberg, the last of the “WOWO legends”, retires after 50 years

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Art Saltsberg is one-of-a-kind.

At least that's how many of his colleagues at WOWO and Federated Media describe working with him through the decades.

"He's probably the last of our 'legends'", WOWO radio host Pat Miller told us.

In his 20's, Federated Media general sales manager Ben Saurer recalls walking its his first meeting with Art, "What am I going to coach or tell this guy!?"

Kayla Blakeslee, another radio host at WOWO, says her message to Art is. "You're one of the last and final rockstars that we had around here."

His career spanned 50 years, some of it behind a microphone, the rest in sales.

ABC21's Krista Miller had the chance to work with Art for two years during her time at WOWO.

He sat down with her to discuss some of the highlights of his career.

"Back then, it was the 50,000 watt blowtorch, you know, the 'voice of a thousand mainstreets', and one of those main streets was in Winchester, Indiana, where I grew up," Art told Krista.

That was back in 1970, when he was 22-years-old.

"My mother said, 'You had a call from WOWO Radio' and I said, 'Oh, okay, I'll call them back.' And so I did. I hung up the phone and said 'I start work at WOWO in two weeks'" he said.

During that time, WOWO was one of seven radio stations owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting.

Back then, before Satellite radio and streaming services, you could pick up WOWO from Florida, to Maine, even in Canada - and that thrust Art into the spotlight.

"It made me almost an instant celebrity in Winchester, that's for sure," Art said, "so the first day I walked in the station was fascinating, because it was seeing everything I'd listened to for years and years, in real life. Then the first time I opened the mic, why, it was humbling, but it was also pretty scary."

Art was there during WOWO's pinnacle, working with broadcasting legends like Bob Sievers, Jack Underwood, and Jay Gould.

"We'd go and play basketball games for the air races, and we'd sign autographs," Art remembers, still amazed today, "I mean, I couldn't imagine myself at the age of 22 signing autographs, but there I was."

Halfway into his career, Art stepped away from news, to work in sales.

During that time he continued "Sports Talk" with ABC21's own Dean Pantazi.

Art's sports career earned him a spot in the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.

"[Art] always did his homework," Dean said, "He came to that show prepared. He would walk into our show every night. Under his arm would be at least a ream of papers and books and notebooks and everything. It was his reference material, and he carried it with him, and it was this thick!"

Art would make his returned to WOWO, spending the latter half of his career in sales.

"It was a good second career for me, if you will, second radio career" Art described, "I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with my clients and help them with their marketing."

50 years from the day he first opened the microphone, and a few "partial retirements" later, Art is finally closing this chapter.

"What does life look like for you now," Krista asked him.

"That's a good question," Art replied, "I talked to several people about retirement before I did this, and they all said you need a plan, you need to have an idea of how you fill your days, and of course I have no plan yet, because I didn't follow that advice."

His mark on radio in Fort Wayne, and beyond, will last both on the listeners, and himself.

"I get a little bit emotional when I think about it," Art said, "that the time has gone by, but it's probably time for other people to do their thing. I'm just glad I had the chance."

Art, and his colleagues, reflect on a 50-year career.

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is an award-winning journalist and photographer who started his career at ABC21. He is a Michigan native and graduate of Grand Valley State University. Daniel welcomes any story idea. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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