Broadcaster George Michael, who parlayed a standard local news job with NBC WRC-TV 4 Washington DC into a national weekly sports program, passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 70 years old.
Michael cut his broadcasting teeth in radio as a Top 40 jock with stops in St. Louis, Philadelphia (at WFIL) and as the replacement for Cousin Brucie Morrow at WABC in New York.
He turned down a play-by-play gig with the Baltimore Orioles to take the WABC opening, which signaled that sports were his true love, and he eventually left radio for the sports job at WRC and never looked back.
He was among the very first sports newsmen to make extensive use of replays, gathering material from all over and from just about any conceivable source. He did not limit himself to the major sports – anything from auto racing to professional wrestling to his own Jack Russell terrier races could wind up on his nightly newscast.
He eventually went national Sunday late night with what became known as “The George Michael Sports Machine,” basically an extension of his nightly sportscasts.
For an appreciation of Michael from his colleague, Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon, go here:
RBR-TVBR observation: George Michael essentially ran a mini-ESPN before there really was an ESPN. You never knew what he’d have up his sleeve, but you always knew it would be interesting, and the banter between Michael and the rest of the news team was always worth hanging around for.
He seemed to realize that he was in charge of the fun part of the newscast, and regular viewers of WRC, which we were, could count on the fact that no matter how bad the rest of the news was, there’d be a little something to lighten things up at the end. Unless the Redskins got annihilated – (not even George could save the civic mood when that happened).
Those who are saying that George Michael was one of a kind, and that we’ll never see his like again – they’re right.