Skip to main content

From the news desk to the emcee mic

Bill Jartz trusted name in Northeast Wisconsin

share arrow printer bookmark flag

August 29, 2022

Growing up on a small farm in Clintonville, Bill Jartz said he experienced giving back firsthand, in the form of “help your neighbor,” whether that was baling hay, building a barn or just lending a hand. That core belief is alive and well today in Jartz’s involvement in causes across Northeast Wisconsin, often as an emcee and auctioneer.

When Jartz was 12, his father died and he said a neighbor – Warren – gave him a vivid lesson in the sometimes-very-tangible benefits of giving. He rode his bike the eight or nine miles to Warren’s house to help in rebuilding the man’s burned-down barn.

Warren told Jartz he was aware of his hard work, and that if his best guernsey in the barn had a heifer, it was all his.

“She had a heifer, I named her Daisy,” Jartz said. “I took her to the county fair, and I got a blue ribbon.”

Looking back, Jartz said he realized Warren became a surrogate father to him.

“He (strengthened) the lesson my father taught me: that giving back is (defined as) helping your neighbor more than anything,” he said.

These days, the Action 2 News anchor known to many as the “5, 6 and 10 guy” – helping people stay informed as he delivers the evening news for WBAY-TV2. However, that isn’t where his involvement with the Northeast Wisconsin community ends. He’s also out and about, most often serving as an event emcee or auctioneer, a natural fit for “someone who’s comfortable in front of people and cameras.”

“It’s a chance to get in front of people passionate about the cause… whatever it is that can make a difference in people’s lives,” Jartz said.

Serving as a volunteer emcee and auctioneer, he said for him, isn’t merely an add-on to his job; but rather an integral to his purpose. A lesson that was heard loud and clear during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most banquets, fundraisers and other events were canceled.

“I need to be in front of people,” Jartz said. “I realized how valuable and meaningful these things were during the pandemic. There was no positive outlet for this energy in me that wants to get out. I realized then how big of a part of my life this is.”

“This” is a labor of love to Jartz, who said he supports a variety of fundraisers and events with very few weeks going by without at least one evening or weekend commitment. In many cases, Jartz said there are streaks of volunteer emceeing and auctioneering, and then there is October, which he described as the height of his volunteerism.

This October’s calendar has, among other things, bookings for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin, Badger Night Two Rivers, Make-A-Wish Foundation Gourmet Wishes, CP Auction, My Brother’s Keeper Steak Fry, The Lee Remmel Sports Award Banquet, a Chilton Optimists Club raffle, Fox Valley Humane Society event, Shall We Dance for the Sexual Assault Crisis Center… and more.

Jartz said he counts his gig as the Green Bay Packers public address announcer during home games as a “warm up” for the onset of each season, well-timed for that month’s volunteer activities.

The resonating and equally-passionate, energetic and humorous voice that accompanies Jartz wherever he goes, engages event attendees. He said he draws on the passion of the people at an event.

“Passionate and good people are who are there because they want to contribute,” he said. “It’s magical to be in front of people passionate about a cause. You can just feel the energy in the room.”

Among the rooms he commands are annual events for causes including the CP Telethon, Ducks Unlimited, Whitetails Unlimited, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, the CP Telethon, YMCA of Greater Green Bay, Badger Night in Two Rivers, Curative Connections, Brown County Crime Prevention, CASA of Brown County, WisconsinSIBS and so many more. Regardless the cause, Jartz said he is not afraid to use his “celebrity status” to benefit an organization, accompanied with a hefty dose of humor.

“A lot of the things I do are auctions, and as a kid, I wanted to be an auctioneer,” he said. “I grew up watching Francis O’Connor do farm auctions, and my whole world revolved around him. That turned out not to be my calling, but because I am a ‘celebrity,” I’ve been asked to do it. And I can shame people into buying stuff.”

Whether it’s “enhancing” an auction item with a WBAY TV2 pencil, an outdated John Deere calendar Jartz made himself or one of a slew of Bill Jartz baseball cards, Jartz said he isn’t afraid to tease the crowd or humble and laugh at himself in the interest of a bid.

“If things slow down in an auction, I’m willing to get the energy going by saying, ‘And I’ll throw in this big bonus: an autographed Bill Jartz calendar,’” he said. “Don’t look at this as a two-year-old calendar, but a big jump on 2048 when the days will line up with those in 2020. It’s corny as heck, but it works”

Case in point: Jartz secured a bid of $1,000 for two dozen cookies to benefit St. James Church in Cooperstown, and $4,200 for a barbecue.

“That one was right after the pandemic, and you could tell people had a bid pent up for two years,” he said. “I wanted to help this church get on its feet. It was a lot of fun and we made a lot of money doing it.”

It’s not without a lot of time, he said. There are evening events on a night before a Packers game where Jartz is driving back to his home in Maribel, facing announcing a Packers game the next day. But he does it because it’s “so rewarding and such a great feeling to help.”

“I think about when my dad died when I was 12, and there were a lot of people who got me through some tough times,” he said. “There was always somebody reaching out and doing something to help me. This is a way to pay some of them back and pay it forward.”

Driving home after the CP Telethon each year, Jartz said he was energized and grateful.

“I often think, ‘It’s good to have lived today, and the world is better because I took breaths,’” he said. “I see the impact. There’s a guy who lived in our neighborhood who wasn’t able to communicate until CP set him up with a speaking device. It’s touching to see the change that made in his life. It’s touching to (contribute) and help people who do that.”

Jartz said he recognizes these events are often the culmination of a year’s work, or more, by organizations, including a lot of pounding the pavement to obtain auction items.

He “rolls in” at 7:15 at night and ‘I have to make it worth their while.”

“I take this very seriously,” he said. “If I fail and don’t get into these people’s pockets, that’s a huge chunk of these (organizations’) money for the whole year.”

Usually, Jartz said he can speak to the good feeling in people’s hearts and get them to raise their hands. For now, he said that means darting to events in between newscasts.

“I understand how big these events are to organizations, and for them to trust me with the responsibility they do.”

share arrow printer bookmark flag