Broadcasting Legend George Michael Dies (1939-2009)

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Broadcasting Legend George Michael Dies (1939-2009)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Before there was SportsCenter, there was the George Michael Sports Machine.

George Michael, 70, died today of cancer at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Michael was a legend in broadcasting. He started as a radio disc jockey, with stints at both WFIL in Philadelphia and WABC in New York.

He spent 28 years at WRC-TV, the NBC O&O in Washington. For three and a half of those years, I had the honor of producing promos for his sportscasts and programs.

He created the "George Michael Sports Machine" in 1984, which at its peek was syndicated to over 200 stations nationwide.

Locally, Mr. Michael hosted "Redskins Report" and "Full Court Press," which helped to launch the television careers of both Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

Without George Michael, there would be no "PTI."

Mr. Michael was a huge NASCAR fan. In fact, every year he would host both his NBC4 sportscasts and Sports Machine broadcasts from "Daytona Week," and all the big names would come live on the air with George.

Petty.

Earnhardt (Junior and Senior).

Stewart.

Gordon.

But the biggest event of the year was the Terrier races held in the first floor studio at NBC Washington.

That's right, in the same studio that was the scene of the Huntley-Brinkley report, the Kennedy-Nixon debate, the birthplace of the Muppets, and to this day, the studio for Meet the Press, George Michael would host an annual terrier race.

It was quite the event!

Mr. Michael had the reputation of being tough, but fair.

And extremely loyal.

In fact, George Michael stepped down from WRC in 2008 after NBC told him he had to layoff a significant amount of his staff.

He refused, and stepped down in protest.

One of the best memories I have of George Michael is a voicemail he left me complimenting a launch promo I had produced for "Redskins Report" my first year at NBC4.

To have a broadcast legend gush about something I produced is something I will never forget.

I saved message and kept it until the day I left the station.

Mr. Michael retired to his horse farm in suburban Maryland, but as recently as this past year I heard George make an appearance on a local sports-talk radio program here in the Washington area.

Mr. Michael is survived by his wife Pat, and daughter Michelle, both of whom had worked with him at WRC.

George, thanks for everything. You will be missed.

 

Jim Mc is a former senior writer/producer at NBC4 Washington. This article includes information gathered from the Washington Post, NBC Washington, and Wikipedia.

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