Sportscasting Pioneer George Michael Dies

Legendary sports ancher George Michael has passed away after battling cancer the last two years.

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While Michael was a staple in the D.C. area, where he was an anchor for NBC Washington from 1980-2007, he was well known nationally for his syndicated highlight show "The George Michael Sports Machine." The show launched in 1984, and at the time was groundbreaking -- it brought local markets national sports highlights from all over the country, covering all sports (and pro wrestling). ESPN was already doing something similar with "SportsCenter," but that required cable. Anyone with a TV and rabbit ears could see "Sports Machine."

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Here's a promo explaining how the show works from 1985:

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The show ran until Michael's departure from NBC in 2007, all the while using the same oversized flashing buttons and outdated sets. This is part of what gave the show its charm. The rest was thanks to Michael himself, who was an anti-Berman to a generation of sports fans. No cheesy catchphrases or nicknames, never unnecessarily loud or obnoxious, Michael just pushed his brightly lit buttons and showed us the video highlights, thanks to satellites and tape-technology. "Sports Machine" was everything good about "SportsCenter" -- highlights, incredible plays, scores -- with none of the noise.

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Michael was 70 years old.

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UPDATE: The Washington Post's Mike Wise offers a heartfelt tribute to George Michael the person, beyond what he meant to Washington DC sports. Check it out.

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