“Hey @danhellie,” former WUSA sports director Brett Haber wrote on Twitter last week, “turn the lights out when you leave.”
No, sports segments on local broadcast news have not gone extinct. And no, Dan Hellie — the beautifully coiffed sports anchor at WRC — is not the last remaining high-profile sports anchor in Washington.
But the news that WTTG sports director Dave Feldman would be leaving his perch after 12 years in the D.C. market was yet another sign of Washington’s new sports media landscape.
Remember, George Michael worked at WRC from 1980 to 2008. Glenn Brenner was at WUSA from 1977 until his untimely death in 1992. Steve Buckhantz was at WTTG for 13 years before taking another job in Washington, as the Wizards’ play-by-play man. WJLA has had just three lead sports anchors over the past three decades: Frank Herzog, Rene Knott and Tim Brant.
But the past year has brought what feels like a mass exodus of Washington’s network sports anchors. In July, Lindsay Czarniak left WRC for ESPN; the network has yet to hire her replacement. In August, Haber announced he was leaving his role as sports director at WUSA; he has since become a commentator for the Tennis Channel and will call Olympic tennis for NBC. Sara Walsh left WUSA for ESPN in 2010, and Hakem Dermish left WRC for ESPN earlier this year.