When I went to work for WSB in Atlanta in 1957, Don Heald, whose professional name was Don Elliot, was still doing the noon news on WSB-TV. Since both radio and TV used the same newsroom at the time, I met Don. He could tell I was a little anxious about how I would do on the great “50,000 -watt Voice of the South.” He told me not to worry about it. “Just do your job and everything will be fine.” He switched from news to sales shortly after I got there.
I met Marc Bartlett in the White Columns’ fancy break room. White Columns was the then new building that housed both stations. The building’s facade looked like something out of Gone With the Wind. I got to know him a little because he, who was WSB-TV’s general manager, and the radio station manager, Frank Gaither, would come in the break room and have coffee with the troops most mornings. It was great for employee relations and the only time most of us got to converse with them.
Both Don Heald and Marc Bartlett died last Thursday, Heald, who was 86, at 4:30 in the morning, and Bartlett, who was 98, at 1:30 in the afternoon. This is big news in Georgia broadcasting because these two men were Georgia Broadcasting legends – Heald, because of his decades as vice president and general manager of WSB-TV, and Bartlett, because of his incredible career with Cox Broadcasting, owner of both WSB and WSB-TV.
Bartlett joined WSB in 1930 as a 19-year-old part time studio pianist. Over the years became station manager of WSB, and when WSB-TV went on the air in 1948, he became the TV station’s first station manager. After decades he ended up as Vice President of Cox Broadcasting before retiring.
I got to see both of them at the last WSB Oldtimers reunion, which was about threee years ago. The choice moment at the reunion was when Bartlett sat down at the piano and started playing. Here he was, in his 90’s, doing what he did in 1930 when he started at WSB, playing the piano. That was special.