This was posted Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Former CBS Atlanta sports anchor Mark Harmon is now employed, thanks to a local sports marketing entrepreneur who was already considering him for a job.
Vince Thompson, who runs sports marketing firm Melt, had been talking to Harmon by phone about a potential position. But after he saw my story regarding Harmon's wife's illness and his house burning down March 4, Thompson called Harmon this morning and gave him a spot in his company starting Monday, March 13.
"His story just grabbed my heart," Thompson said. "I have been a big fan of his work, just being in the sports scene as long as I have. I knew he was a good man and good journalist. He has high values."
Harmon was shocked but grateful at the same time. "He's taking a leap of faith," Harmon said. "It just blows me away. We've never even met face to face."
A sports anchor and reporter for what is now the CBS affiliate from 1992 to 2009, Harmon joined Georgia Public Broadcasting in 2010 and became full-time sports director in 2012. But in December, 2016, GPB informed him they had to let him go because the station was no longer covering high school basketball. He was already grappling with his wife Margaret suffering from congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. The accidental house fire March 4 stressed her out even more but Harmon said she's doing better.
On Monday, two days after the fire, Harmon's friend Simeon Smith posted a GoFundMe page for Harmon and has raised $25,000 so far to help Harmon pay for medical supplies for his wife and other immediate needs before home insurance kicks in.
When Thompson read about Harmon's plight, he said it reminded him of Job in the bible. At first, he planned to contribute money on the GoFundMe site but then thought, "What am I waiting for? I need to do the right thing and figure out the rest later. He's a great journalist who will make a great contribution to my business."
He said he is advancing Harmon his first month's salary upfront to help him out.
Harmon said he had met with William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pate passed Harmon's name over to Thompson.
Thompson said he considers Pate a mentor and took Pate's recommendation seriously.
The Alabama native started Melt, an independent sports marketing company, in 2000 and has grown it to 100 employees with 30 clients including Coca Cola, Caterpillar, Kia, Aaron's and InterContinental. He specializes in college sports sponsorships for events such as the Final Four.
"It's been a whirlwind," Harmon said. "I'll be ready to go Monday. I told Margaret, 'This is day four of the Team Harmon bounce back. We're bouncing back!' "