- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Washington Redskins have a new voice.

WJFK-FM (106.7) yesterday promoted Larry Michael to the lead position on the Redskins’ radio team, where he will replace play-by-play man Frank Herzog of the iconic “Sonny, Sam and Frank” trio.

Redskins Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff spent the past 23 seasons with Herzog on the broadcast, becoming the fabric of fall Sundays in Washington. The trio came together in 1981, the same year Redskins coach Joe Gibbs began his first stint, and was believed to be the NFL’s longest-running radio team.

Now Michael, who also was named WJFK sports director in the move, will team with Jurgensen and Huff in what the station’s management considers an all-encompassing role. Herzog, in contrast, is employed primarily as the 5p.m., 6p.m. and 11p.m. sports anchor on WUSA-TV (Channel9).

“In the evolution of the Redskins Radio Network, it’s really important to have in-house the person who’s doing the operational part of the Redskins broadcast, the marketing and sales, as well as creating shows and features,” WJFK vice president and general manager Alan Leinwand said. “This really was a move to tie everything together.”

Michael joined the Redskins broadcast in 1996. He anchored the pre-game and post-game shows and produced daily updates on the team, and in recent years he also was host of a Monday night radio show about the Redskins.

Pretty much a lifelong Washingtonian, having moved to the area at age 1, Michael was thrilled to become the new “Voice of the Redskins.”

“I’m honored to be the person they’ve selected to do this,” Michael said. “But with that honor comes responsibility. I know what this role means to the team and the city, especially with Joe Gibbs coming back.”

Yesterday’s move wasn’t a surprise. Rumors circulated in recent years that Herzog might be on his way out. “Sonny, Sam and Frank” were considered lovable but somewhat dated, and it wasn’t unusual for a ballcarrier to be misidentified.

Still, the team became a Washington institution.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” Jurgensen said. “It’s going to be awkward, because we have been together for so long. [WJFK executives] explained to me why — it’s a business decision. Larry can be more involved in the business part of it, which Frank can’t do.”

Said Huff: “It’s been a great broadcast, but nothing lasts forever. Frank Herzog has been a great pleasure to work with. Frank’s a good man, but then so is Larry.”

WJFK envisions the colorful banter of Jurgensen and Huff continuing as the broadcast’s centerpiece and midweek programming strengthening.

Sources familiar with WJFK’s plans said Michael is likely to be the host of more shows during the week and that training camp coverage will be expanded. Said one source: “The Voice of the Redskins will be a constant presence, 365 days a year.”

Leinwand stressed that the move was made for overarching reasons, rather than any specific problem with Herzog.

“They’re both great broadcasters,” Leinwand said. “We weren’t unhappy with Frank. It’s just that Larry brings a lot more to the table.”

The decision to promote Michael was made without input from the Redskins, who commended Herzog for his years of service.

“Frank had a real impact on the way thousands of fans have come to view the team,” team spokesman Karl Swanson said. “If there’s going to be a change, it’s good to go from someone we know to someone we also know. Larry should do a great job.”

Michael will continue in his post as senior vice president of Westwood One Radio Sports, which is a major national supplier of programming. He said, though, that he might have to “reassess” some of his outside broadcasting stints as he focuses on the Redskins, who last season were heard on 30 stations across seven states.

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