WSB radio’s program director Pete Spriggs retiring after 19 years

He brought Eric Von Haessler, Erick Erickson and Mark Arum into the fold

Originally posted Wednesday, February 12, 2020 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Pete Spriggs, program director for 95.5 WSB Atlanta's News & Talk, is retiring after 19 years at the helm.

Spriggs oversaw major changes in the line-up and the addition of an FM signal in 2010. (Most listeners now use the FM signal instead of the AM750 one.) He managed the departure of Neal Boortz and brought in new talk talent such as Erick Erickson, Eric Von Haessler and Mark Arum. He also snagged Rush Limbaugh from rival WGST.

“WSB will go down in history as one of the greatest radio stations in the world, and I’m humbled to have been the program director there for 19 years,” Spriggs said in a press release.

WSB has been No. 1 in the ratings in recent years and won a coveted Marconi Award for best news/talk station in the nation in 2015.

Spriggs’ final day at work is set for Feb. 28.

"He cares about the people there," said Doug Turnbull, WSB traffic reporter who joined the station as an intern in 2004. "He knew it's the people who make the product. I can attest to the amount of time he invested in my career. He was like a father to me. By putting an emphasis on people, he made just about anybody who was graced with his presence feel special. He made the top performers want to run through a wall to achieve the goals he set. It's what put WSB at the top."

Condace Pressley, who became the director of community and public service for WSB-TV in 2018, worked with him for 17 years as the assistant program director. "He was an absolute joy," she said. "He and I made a great team."

She said she was impressed how Spriggs was able to navigate loss at the station, including the untimely deaths of Mike KavanaghRoyal Marshall and Capt. Herb Emory over the years.

“These personalities were so ingrained in our community,” Pressley said, “yet he was able to keep the team together and continue to win and honor their memories.”

Pressley was inducted last year into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and asked Spriggs to introduce her. “He stood without notes and spoke from his heart, with his eyes filled with tears,” she recalled. “It was one of the greatest moments of my career to have my friends and family hear him say such nice things about me.”

Pressley isn’t much of a crier and she said he had her weeping with joy. “My heart,” she said, “was so full.”

She also loves that Spriggs is leaving “on his own cadence and on his own terms. He’s earned that.”

Mark Arum, early evening host for WSB, was a traffic reporter when Spriggs arrived in late 2000. Within two weeks, Arum had asked Spriggs that he wanted to do a sports talk show. "Why don't you do a show this Sunday?" Spriggs offered to him.

From there, Arum (while continuing to do traffic) did pre and post-game shows for the Braves and Hawks. He then segued into his own talk show, which Spriggs had him test out on a Connecticut station before giving him a shot on WSB. Arum is now on air daily from 6 to 8 p.m.

Arum said Spriggs was more a coach than boss, a sentiment echoed by Pressley..

"He could rally the troops individually and in big settings," Arum said. "One thing sticks out: six months into his tenure, we had some breaking news story. The next morning, I came in and there was a handwritten thank-you note from Pete in my mailbox. That made me realize that this is a guy I would go to battle for. I still have the note. He's going out like Barry Sanders!"

Ultimately, Arum said, “he came into a No. 1 station and made it even better. He’s leaving on top.”

Drew Anderssen, senior manager for programming and operations, will take over Spriggs' role. He joined the station about a year ago but has been with the Cox family of radio stations for 20 years.

“Drew’s great,” Arum said. “He has already fit in real well.”