The following obituary celebrating Art’s incredible life and storied career was provided by the Eckman Family, anchored by his wife of 46 years, Donna Haines Eckman, his daughters, Christine Eckman and Kara Eckman Mecke, his son-in-law, Ralph Mecke, and grandchildren, Alastair and Cedric Mecke.
ARTHUR GEORGE ECKMAN
(1942 – 2023)
Sports Broadcaster/Commentator, humanitarian, husband, father, grandfather and friend ARTHUR G. ECKMAN (Art) died on November 4, 2023, at the age of 81. Born in Salem, Oregon, in April 1942, Art was the son of Harriett Wiseman Eckman and Bruce Page Eckman.
Known for his rich, deep, and often said to be ‘God-like’ voice, Art’s professional career spanned more than 55 years in the sports world for which he provided broadcasting and reporting services for over 20 different kinds of sports. If there was a ball involved, whether a football, basketball, baseball, bowling ball, or golf ball or if there was an engine involved, from a motorcycle to a motor boat, Art had the knowledge, wherewithal, skills and history to write or talk about it. Bottom line, Art loved sports and was a sports enthusiast and historian.
Art was a 1965 graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and began his career working in the newsroom at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon. From news he segued into sports, becoming the Sports Director at KATU-TV and KEX radio where he called play-by-play for Oregon State football, basketball and triple-A baseball, twice earning the Oregon Sportscaster of the Year award.
From Portland, Art began broadcasting for the San Diego Rockets, which after one year, moved to Houston and became known as the Houston Rockets. Art served as Director of Broadcasting for the Houston Rockets for five years doing play-by-play radio and TV, including broadcasting two NBA All-Star games on network radio.
After Houston, Art worked at KSFO-Radio as Sports Director/Anchor and as a play-by-play Announcer for the San Francisco Giants and Stanford University. From 1976 to 1978, Art was the Sports Director/Anchor for KRON-TV, broadcasting for the Oakland Raiders pre-season football play-by-play and was Co-host of the Kenny Stabler Show. It was here that he was honored with the Kennedy Foundation National Award for producing a series featuring athletes with developmental disabilities.
In 1978, Art moved his family from San Francisco to Atlanta to become the Sports Director/Anchor for WXIA-TV until 1991. While at WXIA-TV, Art provided daily coverage of Falcons, Hawks, Flames and Braves games as well as for area colleges, universities and amateur sports. He also provided special coverage of Super Bowls, Collegiate Bowls, Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, Heavyweight Championship fights, Final Fours, The Masters, plus major golf, tennis, gymnastics and track and field events.
At this point in Art’s distinguished career, his professional path took him on a host of adventures where he was honored with many awards and acclamations including receiving the Man of the Year award from the Edward R. Murrow School of Broadcasting at Washington State University in 2015.
Among his many broadcasting duties, Art did play-by-play radio and television for the Atlanta Dream/WNBA; was host announcer, producer and writer for auto and boat racing; was Sportscaster/writer for ESPN and ESPN2 for such events as the Chick-fil-A Bowl Preview Show (hosting with Lee Corso and Bill Curry), was play-by-play announcer for webcast/radio and television for Supercross/Motocross, did the MotoWorld weekly magazine show serving as anchor, editor, writer and producer and was pit announcer for AMA Road Racing and CART Indy Cars. Additionally with ESPN and ESPN 2, Art called play-by-play for Formula One Tunnel-Boat Series, was reporter and host of the Suzuki Great Outdoors program, broadcasted for Unlimited Hydros and Off-Shore Boat Race Services including providing play-by-play for Wide World of Sports. He provided commentary for Full Contact Karate, the Great Britain Rugby League, Water Skiing, Pro Beach Volleyball, Pro Snow Skiing and the US Squash Open. He was the play-by-play announcer for replays of ACC football and basketball games.
Art was radio and television announcer for the Atlanta Hawks, the ACC Basketball-Jefferson Pilot, the ACC Football-Raycom series, the ACC Volleyball and Women’s basketball packages, the Atlanta Thunder World Team Tennis, Grand Prix Cycling WATL, Georgia and Florida All-Star High School Football, Metro Conference Basketball packages; and was host of the Bill Curry, Bobby Ross and Bobby Cremins TV shows.
One of Art’s favorite college teams was Georgia Tech where Art served as host of the WSB Radio Tailgate Show, was a sideline reporter for WGST, and did play-by-play for WGST Tech basketball. He also hosted American Sports Radio Network’s Final Four show with Al McGuire; was a reporter for Sports By-Line USA, nationwide syndicated talk show. He reported from Wimbledon, the French Open and the Monaco Grand Prix. He provided Atlanta Attack Indoor Soccer play-by-play and WGZC radio morning drive-time sports reports.
In addition to a full-time sports career, Art was familiar with the corporate world, lending his voice and expertise to numerous commercials, special promotions and videos. He was fond of writing and authored numerous feature articles to various publishers and companies.
In the latter part of his sports career, Art took special interest in working with Kennesaw State University in helping to further develop and expand its athletic department. At Kennesaw, Art served as Assistant Athletic Director and Media Relations liaison and consultant. He enjoyed instructing staff and students/athletes on dealing with the media, including crisis control, and he supervised the Sports Information Department among other tasks.
Another one of Art’s great loves was working with young athletes and corporate executives on how to better understand their roles with the media. Consequently, he developed a series of seminars to help many people build positive images and communicate with the media.
In addition to his love of sports, Art was known for his humanitarian efforts. For over 35 years, he served on the Board of Directors for InCommunity (formerly known as enAble of Georgia) – a system of 20 group homes for mentally handicapped and autistic adults. He was former chairman of the federally mandated Advisory Board for Special Education for the state of Georgia. And for nine years, Art served on the Board of Directors for Georgia Special Olympics. He was a founding member of the Georgia Autism Society, and, for 13 years, was Director of a high school student/athlete awards program in which he visited as many as 50 schools, charities and service groups each year. Art served as President and was one of 23 men honored with a lifetime membership in the Touchdown Club of Atlanta and served as a member of the Naismith basketball awards committee. In 2010, Art was inducted in the Portland Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame.
Art is survived by his wife, Donna Haines Eckman, as well as two daughters, Christine Eckman and Kara Eckman Mecke along with Kara’s husband Ralph Mecke and their two children, Alastair and Cedric Mecke.
Plans for a Celebration of Life service will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 10, 2023, at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30305. In memory of Art’s life and in lieu of flowers, the family suggests that a donation be made to InCommunity. InComunity, is a non-profit organization that provides support to individuals with developmental disabilities. Over the years, this organization has been a significant part of the Eckman family as its staff has helped Christine Eckman thrive in her community.