Long-time D.C. sportscaster George Michael passes

Fomer WRC-TV reporter George Michael, a legendary figure on the D.C. sports scene, has passed away after a battle with cancer, per the Washington Post.

Michael covered sports for 28 years at WRC.  He served as lead sports anchor until March 2007, and he continued to work for the station through December 2008.  He left the station in the face of budget reductions.

At the time, Michael offered these words of wisdom:  “There is no logical explanation except that the man making the
decisions is saying ‘I don’t want to spend $5 to make $7.50.’  Instead,
it’s ‘I want to spend nothing and make a dollar.'”

Leonard Shapiro of the Post wrote that Michael “always put on the most complete local sportscast in the market
and rarely shied away from controversy, or asking some very tough
questions, particularly when they involved the Redskins and any other
local teams.”

His syndicated show — The George Michael Sports Machine — launched in the early 1980s and provided local broadcast stations throughout the country with an alternative to ESPN’s SportsCenter and CNN’s once-popular highlight show featuring Nick Charles and Fred Hickman. 

Michael was 70.  We extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

UPDATE:  Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has issued a statement regarding Michael’s passing.  “George was the consummate reporter and a valuable friend,” Snyder said.  “I doubt we’ll ever again see a sports reporter who was so admired by the people he covered.  He loved his family, he loved sports, and he loved his work.  His wife Pat and the rest of his family are in my prayers, and in the thoughts of the entire Redskins organization.”

27 responses to “Long-time D.C. sportscaster George Michael passes

  1. “…and rarely shied away from controversy, or asking some very tough questions, particularly when they involved the Redskins and any other local teams.””
    I believe in speaking the truth regardless of the circumstances. Anyone who lives in the DC market knows that the statement above couldn’t be any further from the truth. George M. was (admittedly) the most homer sportscaster on the air when it came to this team. He would start every “tough” question with ““People” are saying…I’m not saying it…”
    I understand the need to “preach everybody into heaven,” but Boswell is going too far. All you have to do is look at that last “interview” he did with $nyder on Comcast.

  2. I didn’t recognize the name until you said “The George Michael Sports Machine.” I remember watching him as a kid as we didn’t have cable and that was my sports center.

  3. George Michael was a homer, but that never stopped him from asking tough yet fair questions. He also had the rare ability to moderate a panel of experts without letting them take over. Imagine making Riggins explain himself and keeping Kornheiser in check. I’ve missed him the last few years since he parted ways with WRC. The world-wide sports leader has nothing to compare.

  4. surefooted,
    You took the words right out of my mouth… we didn’t have cable when I was a kid either.
    Even after I got it, I always tried to catch his show.
    I LOVED the Sports Machine.

  5. I’m old enough to remember him spinning the hits on the old WFIL in Philly in the 60’s … sad day.

  6. Skins fans,
    My heart goes out to you today! What a sad time to lose someone, this will be a rough holiday season for his loved ones!! May we all see the mortality of this, and take EXTRA time the next few days to express our feelings to those we dearly love!
    -A Cowboys Fan

  7. I lived in Philly then, never missed it on Sunday nights when I could get the channel it was on from NYC.

  8. George Michael was awesome. I was pissed when I heard Channel 4 canned him, or he quit. Which ever it was, he was bitter bout it. He was funny and always was a great sport when he use to call/sit in with Don & Mike (defunked DC radio disc jockeys).
    I remember waiting for the Sports Machine to come on so I could see that evenings Caps highlights.
    I was a little bit shocked when I heard he pasted this morning. I didn’t know about his cancer let alone that he was 70. He looked good for his age. I say that in the most ungayest way I can. I would had guessed he was 55-60.
    Sad to see him not working, and sadder to hear he pasted. I won’t say “R.I.P.” like everyone else loves to write, since he won’t be able to read it but, I would like to thank his family for supporting him while he did what he loved to do.

  9. Time, especially for us baby-boomers, is marching on. I initially knew George Michael as a DJ on, I believe, WABC-AM in New York in the 1970’s, and only later did I know he was a sports guy. The Sports Machine was the last thing I would watch on a Sunday evening to get the round up of highlights, pre-cable. A very up-beat and energetic man. RIP.

  10. George Michael brought the hilights and stories to us every Sunday night before Sports Center and continued to do so effectively after. His delivery of hilights was exciting and it was always worth waiting up late for.

  11. I loved Sports Center and was so excited to see George both on WRC & the Sports Machine when we lived in DC. He elevated the sports and it’s my hope someone will emulate his reporting style and integrity.

  12. I would stay up every Sunday evening just to watch “George Michael’s Sports Machine. Man, It was the most inspiring and best thoughtout sports program in the nation. Michael was consist and laid it out like no other sports anchor. I wondered what happened to him in 2008. Now I know. WRC, like all media stations is all about the dollar. We’ll miss George. He was one of the best!!!

  13. The guy was a genius.
    Trivia question: What was The Sports Machines first TV sponsor?
    Answer: Dash’s Designer – a men’s clothing store

  14. “Tonight, through the use of the sports machine….”
    Thanks George, I always love the plays of the month, played with the theme from Star Wars. I can still hear it today!
    Rest in peace.

  15. Sad news for sure. I remember the “Sports Machine” well. (Forgot all about Nick Charles and Fred Hickman though)

  16. At one time DC had the two best sports guys in the TV business. Glenn Brenner and George Michael, they will always be remembered as two guys that did it from different angles and always got it right.

  17. Glenn Brenner and George Michael were the best sportscasters we have ever had in DC area. George and Glenn are the reason there is an ESPN or Sportscenter
    RIP to the King!!!

  18. George Michael was the best at what he did and he and Jim Vance had an undeniable chemistry that made you want to watch!!!
    Any sports fan in the DMV is truly feeling the lost of one of its most beloved sports icons!!!
    RIP and thanks for the memories!!!

  19. I loved watching the Sports Machine when I lived in the DC area in the 80’s. George was fantastic and had tremendous energy. I am not sure anyone in the Sports Broadcasting Biz could hang with the talent George Michael brought to the table.

  20. Moved from Hagerstown, Maryland to Tampa, Florida in 1998. Just yesterday I was thinking about how much I missed the late great Glenn Brenner. I recalled George Michael’s tribute to Brenner on the news and how his voice cracked when he bid his friend and colleague goodbye. Now my voice cracks and hands tremble as I say goodbye to George Michael and his Sports Machine. I can still hear the music as the show began late on Sunday nights…

  21. George was a pioneer in sports media, there is no denying what George has done to elevate sports reporting. Goodbye to a great man whom I happily invited into my living room for many years on NBC4 and Sports Machine. You will be missed. May your family and friends find comfort in the Lord at this difficult time.

  22. I’ve been a PFT reader for years, but never registered. I’ve created an account for the sole purpose of sharing what a nice guy George Michael was. Earlier this year I was in California on business. Mr. Michael hopped on the rental car shuttle bus that I was on, and took a seat. I recoginized him instantly, but my policy of not intruding on celebrities’ personal space did not alow me to say anything, and I kept jabbing away at my phone. Finally I couldn’t fight it anymore and I faced him and said “Mr. Michael I know you’re a busy man but I just wanted to say I’ve been a lifelong fan.” (I’m in my 40s). He replied “Oh that’s great thank you very much – what’s your name?” I responded and we may have chatted another half minute. Once we got to our stop he patted me on the shoulder and said “take care my friend!”. I don’t know what it is about meeting someone who’s virtually been in your living room day after day, week after week, year after year, but there is indeed something to completing the loop when it comes to meeting that individual in person. For what’s it worth, he was excellent at what he did and it looks like he had a blast doing it. We should all be so lucky. Thanks George!

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