Jim Thacker


In the early years of local television, it was common for on-air people
 to do live commercials for a program’s sponsor. Here, popular
 WSAZ-TV sports director Jim Thacker tells his
viewers all about Wiedemann’s beer.


HUNTINGTON — Born in Chicago, Jim Thacker grew up in Henderson, Kentucky.
There he got his first job as a radio announcer at the tender age of 15. He later
 broadcast schoolboy sports in Kentucky, then came to Huntington in the
early 1950s. He first worked at radio station WPLH, but then
switched to WSAZ in order to break into a
new medium — television.

He broadcast Marshall University football and basketball games and
 did two daily sports reports (at 6 and 11 p.m.) on WSAZ-TV.

Thacker left Huntington in 1967 to help usher in the era of televised
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball. From 1968 through
1981, Thacker was sports anchor for WBTV in Charlotte.

In the 1970s, he joined with college basketball analyst Billy
 Packer to form the popular “Thacker and Packer”
 broadcast duo for ACC games.

After his days at the ACC and WBTV, Thacker did freelance work for
 CBS sports, broadcasting a wide range of sporting events, including
Sun Belt basketball games, the NCAA basketball tournament,
 ESPN college football, NASCAR, the Masters
 and other golf tournaments.

The 64-year-old Thacker died in 1992 after suffering a stroke.

The legendary Bos Johnson was the news director at WSAZ-TV
 when Thacker was the station’s sports director. Remembering
 his late friend and former co-worker, Johnson hailed
Thacker as “a consummate professional. He had
a really quick mind and a great voice, and he
 knew sports. That’s an unbeatable combination.”

“But what I really respected most about Jim,” Johnson
said, “is that he never got in the way of the game.
The game was the important thing. Not
his personality or his views.”


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on March. 16, 2021.


[ Back ]