Jim Hartz, Channel 4 anchor and Today Show host

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Jim Hartz, a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show for two years in the mid-1970s, who was also a local news anchor in New York and Washington, died April 17 at a Fairfax County hospital. He was 82.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his wife, Alexandra Dickson Hartz.

An old-school newscaster with a deep voice who had hints of his home state of Oklahoma, Mr. Hartz became one of the country’s youngest local news anchors when he joined New York’s WNBC-TV in 1964, when he was 24 years old.

In New York, Mr. Hartz helped make WNBC’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. programs the highest-rated news broadcasts in the city. Broadcasts from the same building that housed NBC News’ national headquarters made a name for themselves as a trusted newsreader and reporter on stage, drawing the attention of network executives.

In addition to local news, Mr. Hartz covered national politics, went abroad to report on the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, and became particularly known for his reporting on science and the space program. From 1966 to 1976, he helped anchor NBC’s space coverage, including the Apollo launches that took the first astronauts to the moon.

His mentor on NBC News was Frank McGee, a veteran reporter and colleague Oklahoman who hosted the “Today” show from 1971 until his death from bone cancer in 1974. When Mr. Hartz was chosen to succeed McGee as co-host of “Today” along with Barbara Walters, he reportedly knocked Tom Brokaw and Tom Snyder out of the job.

He handled a mix of hard news and entertainment stories, and often shared the screen with NBC founders Joe Garagiola and Gene Shalit, the show’s longtime film critic. Sir. Hartz once had a trial interview with former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who complained that the news media were “sympathetic to the Zionist cause” in the coverage of Israel.

Mr. Hartz often said that his favorite assignment on “Today” was a series of visits to all 50 states in the months leading up to 1976’s 200th anniversary.

“It’s one of those things you do not forget,” he said in 2012. “It was a chance to see the country almost as a snapshot.”

In June 1976, Walters left the show “Today,” and when NBC executives reconfigured the program, Mr. Hartz soon replaced as host of Brokaw. He remained for several months in a minor role as a wandering correspondent.

“The show was glamorous on the outside, but inside it’s one of the toughest jobs there is,” said Mr. Hartz to Tulsa World in 2001. “It turned my life upside down.”

In 1977, he came to Washington as a co-author with Jim Vance in the news broadcasts at. 18:00 and at 23:00 on the NBC-owned WRC-TV (Channel 4). He was reportedly paid $ 200,000 a year, the highest salary for any local newscaster at the time.

Jim Vance, Washington’s longest-serving local news anchor, has died at the age of 75

After two years, WRC-TV picked up Gordon Peterson from the rival station Channel 9 (then known as WDVM), and Mr. Hartz’s contract was not renewed.

He later co-hosted, along with Broadway star Mary Martin, on “Over Easy,” a PBS show about graceful aging that originated in San Francisco and featured interviews with celebrities such as comedian Bob Hope and actress Jane Fonda. In the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Hartz had a long tenure as host of the PBS science program “Innovation” and worked on other programs, including a joint PBS broadcast with a Japanese network on Asian news.

In the late 1990s, Mr. Hartz as a visiting researcher at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He became particularly interested in how to increase the scientific literacy of the general public.

He collaborated with NASA scientist Rick Chappell on a book, “Worlds Apart,” which aimed to bridge the gap between scientists and journalists. The authors maintained that misunderstandings on both sides threatened the scientific progress of the United States.

“Apart from scientists who do not speak English and journalists who do not speak science,” wrote Mr. Hartz and Chappell, “there are insecure gatekeepers – editors who decide which stories will be published or produced – and a public that “is ill-equipped to understand the nuance and significance of scientific development. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that the popular support that science once enjoyed is now eroding.”

James LeRoy Hartz was born on February 3, 1940 in Tulsa. His father was an Assembly of God priest, and his mother was a homemaker.

He took pre-medical courses at the University of Tulsa and to help pay for his tuition he began working in radio. He was a speaker on two radio stations before leaving university to become a television reporter for KOTV, the Tulsa CBS affiliate. An NBC producer spotted him on the air and hired him for the network’s station in New York.

“When NBC recruited me as news director at KOTV three decades ago, I moved to New York,” he said in 1994. “The world became my newscast: fighting in the Middle East, space travel, presidential travel.”

His marriage to Norma Tandy ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 42 years, the former Alexandra Dickson of Alexandria, Va .; two daughters from his first marriage, Jana Hartz Maher of Colorado Springs and Nancy Hartz Cole of Reston, Va .; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. A son from his first marriage, John M. Hartz, died in 2015.

In addition to radio and television broadcasts, Mr. Hartz had a PR consulting firm and contributed articles to National Geographic and other publications. He won five Emmy Awards throughout his career and retired in the mid-60s. He was also the longtime chairman of the Will Rogers Memorial Commission, which headed a museum and worked to preserve the legacy of the Oklahoma-born humorist and entertainer.

He said the two most important qualities needed for a TV journalist were an ability to make ad-lib comments for long periods of time and “a strong bladder.”

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