I've been writing this column every week since November of 2010. From now on, it will never be as good, it will never be as informative, it will never be as helpful. For that I apologize. Just about every week I would consult Captain Herb Emory about what to write in this weekly traffic column. Whether to get quotes from him on an important traffic issue, to ask for his guidance with a reader's question or simply to bounce ideas off of him. This was as much his column as it is mine. He was the true "Gridlock Guy." I was just the lucky soul asked to transcribe his wisdom every week.
Your traffic reports every six minutes on WSB Radio will never be as good, your traffic reports every 10 minutes on WSB-TV will never be as good, this column will never be as good. They can't be. Herb's knowledge, experience, ambition, drive, determination, effort, voice and sense of humor can never be replaced.
The WSB Traffic Team has lost its Dalai Lama, its Albert Einstein, its Michael Jordan, its Muhammad Ali. Captain Herb was the best in the business at his profession. He forgot more about traffic reporting than any other traffic reporter in the country will ever know.
Every other traffic report on every other radio and TV station in the city will never be as good either. It's a widely known fact that other stations and traffic reporters monitored Herb's reports because, well, he was simply the best. He had the best information, he had the most knowledge, he had the most contacts, he had the most accurate and timely traffic reports. There is no disputing this. He was the king.
I was fortunate enough to work with Captain Herb for almost 17 years. When I first started at WSB in 1997, I didn't know the area, I didn't know how to report on traffic, heck, I had never even had a job at a radio station before. Herb literally and figuratively took me under his wing. He told me the proper way to pronounce Ponce de Leon Ave, Albany and Monticello. He made me study maps to learn the roads. He made me get in my car and drive every interstate. He took me up in the chopper and taught me all of the idiosyncrasies of Atlanta traffic.
I will always treasure Captain Herb, the time we spent together and all that he has meant to me.
The City of Atlanta has lost an icon, a pillar, an invaluable resource, and a dear, dear friend. He rode shotgun with millions of commuters over the years making sure folks got to work on time and then got home in time for dinner.
We as traffic reporters in the metro area will try to fill his shoes, but just know traffic reports will never be the same.
He was Mozart, he was John Wayne, he was Dale Earnhardt. He is irreplaceable.