Early last week WHIO channel 7’s Mike Hartsock completed a 41 year run at the Dayton station, first with news, then as Mick Hubert’s sports understudy before becoming Sports Director in 1989. I’ve known the Waynesville native since he broke into broadcasting with WPFB in Middletown at about the same time I was launching with WMVR in Sidney. Our friendship advanced during my ten years as football public address announcer at the University of Dayton (2006-15).
I’ve watched him navigate through changes at both his station and in the industry. For many years he called numerous UD men’s basketball games that his station originated. Over time the number dwindled until there were no more. Another huge change was the eventual elimination of the second sports position which made Mike essentially a one man sports department with some support from news With his departure, I’ll be very interested to see how WHIO staffs sports especially since their main competitor (WDTN2) has two full time pros leading their efforts.
I don’t really have a flowing story to tell about Hartsock but I’ve observed many things I’d like to share with you. I’ll begin with one of his passions and something at which he has excelled, golf. A guy in Mike’s position gets to tee it up at many celebrity-charity events. At one such venture many years ago his playing partner was entertainer Glen Campbell who appeared in their cart before 8am with his clubs and a fifth of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Mike led the way in golf while Glen set the solo pace in consumption. This story remains a Hartsock favorite.
Back in 1987 the Fort Loramie boys were headed to the state basketball title and adopted the song “Small Town” by John Cougar Mellencamp. This was actually a Hartsock brainchild which he used on sportscasts. It caught on quickly but was short circuited by music royalty issues.
For many years the station helicopter, Chopper 7, was used for the sports director to deliver the game ball to select contests. Two that involved Sidney stand out. One night at Greenville the chopper blades became briefly entangled in utility wires near the pressbox, causing some scary moments but nothing more. A few years later in 2004, Hartsock and Chopper 7 delivered the ball to open Sidney Memorial Stadium. I can still see him handing the ball to retired coach Dave Haines.
I always enjoyed spending time with Mike and channel 2 cohort Jack Pohl at Cincinnati Reds spring training. We’d annually watch a UD men’s basketball game at Augie’s near Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona. Hartsock would make notes during the telecast so he could do voice-overs from his hotel room for the 11:20pm sportscast back in Dayton, real evidence of his one man sports department.
Several times over the years Mike contacted me just before 11pm on a Friday night to check Shelby County area pronunciations for his highlight clips. One name we revisited a few times was “Guillozet.” He shot many football playoff highlights at Sidney Memorial Stadium and often praised how we ran our media operation.
I’ll close with a story about my filmmaker nephews. Several years back they asked if I’d play the cameo role of a TV sportscaster in one of their productions. While I was glad they thought of Uncle Dave, I told them that the guy they needed was Mike Hartsock. I explained, “Mike and I both have the voice but he has the look and the lingo. He’s your guy.” They found Mike receptive and Hartsock was flown to New York as part of the deal. It was the right choice. They’ve stayed in touch since.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross became a broadcaster and media member in 1975.