Dave Platta is an award-winning sportscaster and television journalist in Columbus, Georgia.
It seems I was destined to be a sportscaster from childhood. Growing up in Winthrop Harbor, IL, sports was always front and center. I headed to Southern Illinois University’s nationally-renowned Radio-TV department, working my way up to sports director, running a 30-man department during my final semester.
KHQA in Quincy was my first stop, with the weekend sports job at WIFR in Rockford to follow. I also worked as a sports reporter at WLUK in Green Bay and weekend sports anchor at WGHP in High Point, NC.
Then I got the chance I’d always dreamed of – the opportunity to run a sports department. I came to WTVM in Columbus, Georgia in 1985 with big dreams and big plans. So at age 26, with a supportive wife and a newborn son, I dove in headfirst to do things MY way. My new bosses and I were on the same page, looking for the splash, so there was heavy promotion on my arrival with a big workload dumped on some very willing shoulders.
The centerpiece was “I Challenge Dave,” where viewers would write in and challenge me at their sport. I did just about everything. There was free throw shooting, horseshoes, rappelling, pool, a batting cage challenge versus a high school baseball player named Frank Thomas, darts, kayaking that led to the camera equipment winding up in Uchee Creek when we capsized, and even a couple of duels, one with guns (loaded with blanks) and another with medieval style (wooden) swords. Needless to say, I didn’t win very often, but a good time was had by all and it took on a life of its own.
As the people of the Chattahoochee Valley got to know me, who I am, and what I stand for, they welcomed me and accepted me, my wife, and my sons, and Columbus truly became our home. And what an incredible area it has been to cover sports! Three of the nation’s premier college sports programs have huge fan bases in this area. There are the pro teams from Atlanta, along with minor league sports teams in Columbus over the years – baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer. Add in some great high school sports programs, with the fun of Sports Overtime on Friday nights during the fall, and all the youth sports, especially little league baseball, and you’ve got sportscaster heaven.