Tonight at 11PM George Michael will deliver his final sportscast as lead sports reporter for NBC-4 in Washington. His departure is part of the personnel cutbacks that NBC-TV has call a move to a new concept called “NBC 2.0”. George’s contract was to end today, and he was offered a salary increase and asked to cut his staff. Deciding that if the axe were to fall it should cut off the head and not the limbs, Michael announced he would quit instead of firing his own staff, and perhaps in doing so others would be able to keep their jobs.
The Washington Post covers the story here, and adequately covers his career, his introduction of the widespread use of videotape, and even the suggestion that his use of music to score said videos almost made him the original MTV.
But what they really don’t hit enough is the passion that enthusiasm that George Michael brought to work every day. He found excitement in sports that were not mainstream at the time, from professional wresting to NASCAR. He loved animals, and not only broadcast the results of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show each year but also had an annual race of Jack Russell Terriers.
But what I find so marvelous about George Michael is his appreciation for sports in general and his recognition that while it has the capacity to be fun an entertaining it is also full of egomaniacs that need to be called to task. George also realized that sports, while fun, are not the be all and end all. I thought he showed that when Glenn Brenner died.
Glenn Brennerwas the man in sports in Washington in the 1980’s. The sports anchor at WUSA-TV, he was fun, witty, and often outrageous. He ruled the roost as the most popular sportscaster in DC. Michael was second. A solid second, but still #2.
Then Brenner had a “vascular incident” during the 1991 Marine Corps marathon, later slipped into a coma, and died in January 1992. George Michael, the man of enthusiasm and energy, couldn’t hold in his emotions when he announced the death of his colleague. He was so overwhelmed by emotion that he had to cut short his comments until another time.
He cried when tragedy makes him the #1 sportscaster in the region, and then worked hard to make the title his by dint of hard work. He described folks for what they are, and no heroes or knaves fell under his spotlight without being properly identified and called out. He made sports fun, but kept the common touch. And he quit his job rather than fire his staff.
Whatever he does, I hope George Michael finds happiness and contentment. Thank you for years of great entertainment and reporting. You will be missed.