During Wednesday’s El Dorado Rotary Club meeting at Butler Community College, KAKE TV anchor Larry Hatteberg shared about his nearly 50 years in the television news industry.
“People have asked me about Hatteberg’s People,” he said. “It’s a series I really enjoy doing.”
He travels around the state, and sometimes around the world, to find regular people doing the right thing behind the scenes.
“Those people are very important to their communities,” he said, “people doing the right things.”
He mentioned several of the people he has featured, including a woman who had been a foster mother to 60 children and an elderly woman who collected aluminum cans and sold jelly for many years. She saved the $100,000 she earned, then donated it for a municipal swimming pool.
Hatteberg also mentioned a man who lived in a hole in the ground for 40 years.
“That man was the happiest, most content person,” said Hatteberg. “He is probably the most memorable.”
In addition to the positive feature stories, Hatteberg has dealt with difficult stories, most notably the ones about Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK serial killer.
“Over the course of 30 years he communicated with us,” said Hatteberg. “He wrote to us prolifically.”
He also recalled going to visit Rader after he had been caught. Seeing the killer’s boastful, unrepentant attitude was upsetting to Hatteberg.
“It’s a story that changes your life,” he said. “I’ve met the best people in the world and the worst people in the world.”
He credits his father as an early role model for how to be the best kind of person.
“My parents owned a bakery in Winfield,” said Hatteberg. “I grew up working there.”
Sometimes, as they were cleaning up the bakery and taking food unfit for sale to the trash, there would be people waiting for the trash so they could go through it to find something to eat.
“Anytime he saw them, he would go out and tell them to come in and he would give them whatever they wanted,” Hatteberg said of his father. “That makes a big impression on a guy.”
After sharing about his background and his work, Hatteberg answered questions from the audience and thanked them for letting him speak.