WRC’s George Michael Dead At 70

Posted in Sports TV at 3:20 pm by

At the time of George Michael’s 1986 resignation as regular sports anchor from Washington DC’s WRC, I wrote, “Once upon a time, cable TV was unavailable in large chunks of lower Manhattan and Queens (thank you, Donald Manes), and as such, rather than bask in the dulcet tones of the young (well, younger) Chris Berman on a late Sunday night, Michael™s œSports Machine was the only game in town for the highlights-starved.”   Michael, a DC sports media fixture for more than a quarter century, and a national name/face thanks to his syndicated highlights program was once described by The Couch Slouch as “the only guy in town who can show you five minutes of tape in a four-minute sportscast.” Michael, a former disc-jockey turned sports mouthpiece, passed away yesterday at the age of 70.

“Growing up,” recalled Mr. Irrelevent’s Jamie Mottram, “my friends and I cherished the times we were able to stay up late enough to watch Sports Machine. Along with Saturday Night Live, it was our favorite show. I think a lot of sports-obsessed kids felt that way.”

I’m a little longer in the tooth than Mottram, and I always associated watching “The Sports Machine” with the end of a weekend with the oncoming dread of a Monday morning. And make no mistake, this was a pre-blog / pre- PTI / well before WFAN became-a-ratings-juggeranut era in which guys like Michael, Boston’s Bob Lobel, New York’s Warner Wolf and Jerry Girard were hugely influential in establishing just what the next morning’s talking points would be. If even said chatter wasn’t nearly as loud (or as easy to find)

6 responses to “WRC’s George Michael Dead At 70”

  1. Chuck Meehan says:

    Philly readers whom are a bit long-in-the-tooth will also remember George Micheals pre-Sports Machine tenure as linchpin of Famous 56 WFIL Radios “Boss Jocks”. RIP.

  2. kt says:

    snl, george michael’s sports machine, and bob lobel were all on wbz. i watched the sport’s machine religiously as a kid, i doubt i’d have the appreciation for teams or players based west of worcester county if it weren’t for that show. even towards the end when he was co-hosting the show that bore his name, when i’d happen across it on tv i’d always watch. i’ll miss him.

  3. Don says:

    A bit surprised, GC, that you didn’t mention George Michaels relationship with DC’s punk rock world.

    but before that…

    I for one, could not stand him or his show. We all loved the sports bloopers in high school and pre-internet he had the team to assemble them all, but non-DC residents have to remember that John Riggins was the worst kind of sexist, racist-ish, ultra-pro-military (Riggo’s Rangers) ignoramus that I have yet to see in this town. DC may have plenty of ignorant sports figures, but I wouldn’t know who they are, except George Michaels played into and played up Riggins’s jerkish behavior in a way that changed DC sports culture from the fun-loving “The Opera Isn’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings” Bullets franchise into some of the ugliest years of the Redskins. If I had to choose a DC sportscaster, my allegiance would have always been with Glenn Brenner whose life was cut short. Mostly I remember Glenn goading the newscasters into flubbing their lines and then he would mercilessly repeat the jokes over and over again during the broadcast. There are no great youtube clips of the guy, but I like this one where Glenn showed up on Larry King’s show dressed like Larry King. Remember, he was a mid-market sportscaster, kind of ballsy to do Larry King like that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSAt5DQ-lUg

    All that said, in the 1990s Michaels hired Andre Lee (we have countless mutual friends but we never hung out) from the band Marginal Man and by the mid to late 1990s Andre placed well more than a dozen Fugazi and related punk songs on the Sports Machine, each time garnering lots of email list comments.

  4. Rog says:

    The first time I saw the listing in TV Guide I aksed myself “why does the guy from Wham! UK have a sports show?” I tuned in anyway and it was heaven for a pre-teen insomniac like myself. The Sports Machine looked pretty dorky even back then, all reel-to-reel tomfoolery…. Now we have Miked Up. Yay.

  5. jerry curtrin says:

    George Michael was the best DJ I ever heard when he spun records on WFIL in Philadelphia. It seems he was here forever although only 8 years (1966-74). While he is a sports icon in Washington, he touched the lives of so many teenagers in Philadelphia in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As good as he was in TV, there was no one like him on Pop radio.

  6. Philly readers whom are a bit long-in-the-tooth will also remember George Micheals pre-Sports Machine tenure as linchpin of Famous 56 WFIL Radios “Boss Jocks”. RIP.

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