- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

It’s like the National Mall getting paved. Or the Beltway shutting down — permanently.

Washington may never be the same.

Longtime WRC-TV Channel 4 sports personality George Michael yesterday said he is giving up his nightly anchoring duties after 27 years at the local NBC affiliate.

In March, Mr. Michael will step down as sports director and host of the nationally syndicated “Sports Machine.” He will stay on, however, as host of the “Redskins Report” and “Full Court Press.” He also will continue to host Monday interviews with Redskins coaches.

“I don’t care who you are or where you are — everything has to end some time,” Mr. Michael, 65, said.

He added he was offered a new long-term contract but chose to turn it down amid budget cuts so that other employees wouldn’t be laid off.

“You have to do what is right,” he said. “If there have to be budget cuts, then the first one [to go] has to be me.”

Mr. Michael, who was responsible for hiring junior sportscasters Lindsay Czarniak and Dan Hellie, said it would be “immoral” for him to “be making a lot of money if I have to sit here and ruin people’s lives.”

Known for his energetic delivery and brazen style, Mr. Michael has always been sure to wake any viewer who might be dozing off in the final minutes of a nightly newscast. After joining the station in April 1980, he created “George Michael’s Sports Final,” the local sports highlight show that, after much success, was syndicated in 1984 as the “Sports Machine.”

Mr. Michael said he is “broken-hearted” to leave his colleagues on the nightly anchoring team.

“I’m leaving my best friend [Jim] Vance and my sister Doreen [Gentzler],” he said.

An NBC spokeswoman in New York said no decisions have been made as to his successor as nightly sports anchor. However, Mr. Michael said Ms. Czarniak and Mr. Hellie will share anchoring duties.

“She’s just truly becoming a star but with both feet on the ground,” he said of Ms. Czarniak. “And Dan is just good as gold.”

Last month, NBC Universal said it would cut 700 jobs in an effort to reverse falling profits and shrink expenses by $750 million in the next two years.

It was announced soon after that WRC was not renewing the contract of technology correspondent I.J. Hudson, a 21-year veteran of the station.

As the face of the top-rated sportscast in town, Mr. Michael said he’s glad to go out on top.

“I get to walk off with ratings that I just don’t think anyone in this day and age can get anymore,” he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide