"Captain" Herb Emory, the longtime WSB Radio and Channel 2 Action News traffic reporter who started helping Atlanta-area drivers navigate to and from work and everywhere in between in 1971, died Saturday.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office told WSB that Emory stopped to help at a car accident on South Burnt Hickory Road when he suddenly fell ill. He was transported to WellStar Douglas Hospital where he later died.
His former radio colleagues all cited his impassioned love for radio, NASCAR and community involvement. He spent many hours a week in a helicopter hovering over metro Atlanta’s frustrating traffic with a chipper, empathetic voice.
“I’m stunned,” said Condace Pressley, assistant program director, said. “I’m genuinely shaken. He lived what he did. He always wanted to do more.”
Emory had recently hosted a recent Traffic Trooper luncheon for about 50 traffic reporting volunteers in the WSB headquarters cafeteria.
“He made sure everyone in that room left with a prize,” she said. “A small way to thank them for what they do.”
She said Emory hosted more charity events than any other WSB personality by a long shot. She had asked him recently for his calendar and counted 83 personal appearances in 2013 alone. For years, he held annual Toys for Tots fundraisers.
Clark Howard, on the air today, said, “He died of a heart attack, which is so ironic. This was a man who had more heart than anyone who I’ve ever had the privilege to know.”
Emory watched over the interstates during the week and hosted special traffic and NASCAR broadcast programs with his wife, Karen Emory.
Captain Herb hosted and produced the WSB Speed Shop auto racing from 1993 until 2011.
Emory previously was a News/Traffic reporter from 1978 through 1991 with WQXI-AM, 94Q-Star 94, Georgia Network News.
Emory said he earned the title of captain when before his first broadcast on WSB, the manager told him to introduce himself as Colonel Herb Emory. After figuring out that it was too hard to say, he was given the name Captain Herb Emory instead.
He was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the inaugural Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award in 2012.
Emory moved to Atlanta in 1971 from his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Emory’s father was a volunteer pit crew member for Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Sr.’s dad, in the 1960s.
Statement from Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan:
Herb Emory was Douglas County through and through, even though he came from the hills of North Carolina. He loved us, and we loved him. He was proud to live in Douglas County, and we were proud to have him here. He was involved in many aspects of our community, particularly those involving children, the military and veterans. He would not say "no" to a request to serve or help his fellow man, and, more often than not, did it without being asked. On Saturday, he heard the accident occur, called it in to Douglas County E911, and then went outside to lend any help that he could. He passed away helping others. That was Herb Emory - always serving his community. He will be greatly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to Karen and his family, to the WSB television and radio family, and to everyone he touched.