Great, a word used so much these days that it lacks impact, doesn’t fully do justice describing the job WTEN Sportscaster Josh Rultenberg has done. He is, was and always will be a pro’s pro but his days of reporting from the Capital Region are numbered.
The Philly native and Temple University alum received word on June 7 that after three and a half years the station, which was recently acquired by Nexstar Media Group, they would not renew his contract when it expires at the end of the month.
“We were recently bought out by a new corporation. When new people get a chance to put their stamp on something, that’s what they want to do,” he said. “It’s just part of the business. You take it for what it’s worth, and you remember the good times that you had.”
I first met Josh in the press box at a Tri-City ValleyCats game last summer. Right from the start of our conversation, I was struck by his genuine kindness and class. Having watched him on TV and admiring his work, I could not believe that he was actually interested in me and this website. While some might say the local media business can be cut-throat, that cannot be said about Josh, who took the time to talk with just another one of those bloggers.
Rultenberg cares about people, and it shines on air. Just recently he delivered this heartfelt report; turning what could have been a boring Sunday of national highlights into one of local prominence and good will:
While Rultenberg has only worked in the area since January 2014, he’s had a sports connection to the region for over a decade via Siena College men’s basketball team, as a best friend of ex-standout guard Ronald Moore. “I visited 4-5 times a year,’ he said. “I cheered with them…I rushed the court with them when they won the MAAC Championship.”
Although he wasn’t born here, Rultenberg says that Albany will forever mean something to him. “It’s like a safe haven for me because I left my job in Alabama without having a job and luckily I had a friend up here who was looking out for me and a boss that was willing to take a second chance on me. Albany will always have a special place in my heart.”
His last day at WTEN will be this Sunday, June 25. After that, it’s a two and a half hour trip to the Big Apple where Rultenberg has accepted a morning reporting job with Fios 1 News. “When one door closes, another opens,” he said in a tweet.
It won’t be the sportscaster’s first experience outside the friendly confines of the toy department. Before taking Josh Sim’s spot in the WTEN/WXXA sports department, Rultenberg spent 18 months chasing politicians, criminals, and breaking news. It was also during this stint that he covered his favorite story, a winner in the truest sense, about a 7-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
“I remember John Gray [a longtime local news anchor and journalist] got a tip about this boy from South Glens Falls who had cerebral palsy. He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk,” Rultenberg said. “The story went, there was this mother of three, all boys, and she just wanted her oldest to be included with the boys and have fun with them with some sort of normalcy.”
The family was entered in a nationwide bike contest for an adaptive bike. When WTEN aired the story in its 10:00 p.m. newscast they were in sixth place, by 11:00 p.m. they were up to fourth. The next morning, the boy was in first place and two weeks later the family won the bike.
“If I told you that I cried my eyes out knowing that I helped change that boy’s life, it would be the absolute truth,” Rultenberg went on to say,
While there will be other great journalists, reporters, and sportscasters to pass through the Capital Region, it’s the good-heartedness of Josh Rultenberg that is our greatest loss.
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