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Rank the D.C. sports broadcasting legends

Glenn Brenner with Maureen Bunyan. (1977 promotional photo from WTOP)

Len Shapiro's ranking of the top 10 sports anchors over the past 40 years could hardly have been done by a more authoritative writer. Shapiro has spent much of that time as the top sports media writer in this market.

Still, there was some debate over the ordering of the top 3. I don't think anyone would complain with Warner Wolf, George Michael and Glenn Brenner as the top trio, but the order remains in doubt. Shapiro said Wolf was No. 1. Larry Weisman agreed. Skins blogger Matt Terl said it was Michael, "by a mile." Examiner columnist Rick Snider also voted for Michael. CSN's Chick Hernandez said it's "Glenn Brenner hands down." William F. Yurasko agreed that ranking Brenner third is "madness."

This sounds like a poll question. So here are Shapiro's Top 10 nominees. Rank them however you like. We'll see who wins. Write-in votes are allowed, especially for Ivan Carter.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 26, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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I guess it depends on what defines a quality sportscaster. I do know, though, that there was no one like Glenn Brenner, and he made my father and me switch from Channel 4 to Channel 9 news whenever it was time for sports. I always thought I was watching two friends (him and Peterson) who genuinely liked each other. He always seemed honest and kind. I'm sure there's something salacious back there, but even seeing the photograph above made me smile.

Posted by: lord_rockumus | May 26, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

No Lindsay Czarniak?

Posted by: Hendo1 | May 26, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Brenner and Michael are one-two - and I'm going back and forth on the proper order. This town _stopped_ when Brenner died, and with good reason. ESPN anchors are today doing a far less entertaining imitation of what Brenner perfected 20 years ago.

Posted by: gocaps2 | May 26, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't even know who Bernie Smilovitz or Jim Cavellas are, but they can't be any worse than Warner Wolf or George Michael.

Just being around a long time time because you know the right arse to kiss does not equal good.

...and Frank Herzog...maybe he gets a bad rep because the guys he was working with, Sonny and Sam, are ignorant and senile - but he's no great broadcaster either.

Posted by: tha_prophet | May 26, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who votes for Warner Wolf is simply trying to make themselves sound smart and important. It's like claiming membership to an exclusive club..."I was here when Wolf ruled the airwaves...and he was the greatest." That's garbage. Wolf may have been the first, but he was by no means the best. The golden era of DC Sports Anchors was without question the mid to late 1980s with Michael, Brenner, Herzog, and Buck always bringing in the rear (but still strong.) Wolf ranks behind all of these gentlemen in ability, relevance, and stature among the sports casters pantheon. In truth, I'd argue Wally Bruckner was better than Wolf. Bruckner had no schtick, no bit, he was just straight sports. He was never a favorite of mine, but I respected his work. My vote for Weenie of the Week - Len Shapiro.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | May 26, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

No Lindsay Czarniak?

Posted by: Hendo1 | May 26, 2010 2:30 PM
Women should never be sportscasters!

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | May 26, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I grew up with the Brenner family and became close friends with his children at a young age. They are great people. I'll never forget that cold day in January 92, we were in 8th grade, when they made the announcement over the intercom at our middle school that Glenn Brenner had finally succumb to his brain tumor. Kids across the school were in shock. He was a DC icon.

It's Glenn Brenner and George Michael folks, at 1 and 1a. Warner Wolf, a distant 3rd.

Side note: Wally Bruckner should be on this list, an oversight by Len.

Side note 2: When discussing those who got their start here and moved on to the national scene, Len didn't mention Sage Steele, Scott Hansen, Bram Weinstein (all from CSN) and the great Gus Johnson, formerly of Fox5. Chris McKendry shouldn't have even been mentioned in this piece...she was the worst of the local sports anchors and got the ESPN gig solely because of her looks.

Side Note 3: What ever happened to Rene Knott?

Posted by: Barno1 | May 26, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

my list, with write ins at #6 and #9.

1] Glenn Brenner
2] George Michael
3) Frank Herzog
4) Warner Wolf
5) Steve Buckhantz
6) Lindsay Czarniak
7) Chick Hernandez
8) Dave Feldman
9) Tim Brandt
10) Bernie Smilovitz

Posted by: snarkout1 | May 26, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Brenner #1; Kevin Kiley #2; Frank Herzog #3. Nobody else stands out.

Posted by: workinglasshero | May 26, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Brenner #1 by a whisker over King George. I did my internship in the summer of '91 in the sports department at channel 9. Still hard to believe he died a few months after that.
It's Brenner's "fault" that I majored in broadcast journalism...

Posted by: 4-12 | May 26, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Can't seriously put Czarniak on this list. This is an "All Time Greatest" list, not a "who is hot and on tv right now?" list.

That said, I think it's only a matter of time before Kelly Johnson moves on to to the national scene. Especially now that Randy Thomas is no longer with the Skins...

Posted by: Barno1 | May 26, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Ken Mease was a solid back-up guy for Brenner too.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | May 26, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

1. Steve Buckhantz
2-9 everybody else
10. Chick Hernandez


Posted by: Tank2 | May 26, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

+1 on Barno, Brenner and Michael are 1 and 1a

Michael was great but Brenner was a genius. He totally pioneered the irreverent-fan tone of a lot of modern internet sports writers like this blog or Simmons. Dunno if he was directly influential but he was there a long time ago. He knew that sports were ridiculous and wasn't afraid to say so... mostly I think because of his experience in Philly... yet also honestly loved sports and athletes.

Posted by: wpt4000 | May 26, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Can't seriously put Czarniak on this list. This is an "All Time Greatest" list, not a "who is hot and on tv right now?" list.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 26, 2010 3:28 PM

true, but really after about #5, are any of them "great?" I think she's as good as the rest at that point.

Ken Mease was a solid back-up guy for Brenner too.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | May 26, 2010 3:33 PM

good call, he should probably be in the top 10 as well.

Posted by: snarkout1 | May 26, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I'd toss in a sentimental vote for Darrian Chapman. And another write-in vote for "don't post images of people without identifying them in a caption, damnit".

Posted by: burke2 | May 26, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I grew up hearing "Lets go to the video tape" + rolling finger point every night of my childhood. For that, Warner Wolf will always be #1.

Frank Herzog #2. Besides serving as the irreplaceable component to Sonny, Sam and Frank (sorry but that dufus the skins have now doesnt come closr to cutting it) he knew DC sports. Every broadcast was passionate too.

George Micheal #3 for his DC sports knowledge but his longevity, Sports Machine, and coverage of non-mainstream sports might make a case to leap frog all and be #1.

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | May 26, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

One could argue that George Michael was more influential on the business--although the first time I saw Keith Olbermann on ESPN, I thought, "He's ripping off Glenn Brenner," so I think Brenner was more influential than he's given credit for. But what made Glenn Brenner so great was that he transcended sports. My mom was and still is not much of a sports fan, but more than once, on a night I had missed the news and she hadn't, she'd say something like, "Too bad you missed Glenn Brenner tonight. He did this thing that was so funny..."

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 26, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

How does Bernie Smilovitz make the list and Mel Proctor doesn't?

Posted by: TheSecretWeapon | May 26, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

1. Len Shapiro is a hack with no credibility. He's a guy that routinely appeared on radio stations which he then purported to critique.

2. Anyone mentioning Lindsay Czarniak is clueless. Yeah, she's cute and perky, but she has nothing going substantively, unlike the top people. I mean, with Wolf you remember videotape. With Michael, it is satellite highlights. With Brenner, it is comedy. With Czarniak? That is what I mean. Plus, she'll undoubtedly leave town for ESPN or something in the near future.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 26, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Also, one of my favorite Brenner memories was this "interview" he frequently played of him and John McEnroe. McEnroe had just been fined or suspended for some kind of misbehavior and flew into D.C. Brenner went out to the airport and when he got off the plane, followed him with a mic and cameraman asking him for a comment. They probably walked for two or three minutes, with Brenner asking the same question every 20 seconds and McEnroe not answering and not even looking at him. Finally McEnroe turns around and screams something like, "You can see I'm not going to answer the question, so why do you keep repeating it?" I think that exchange helped to inspire the Weenie of the Week's McEnroe Trophy.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 26, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Ok maybe its just my youth but at 26 there are only five of these guys who I have even seen do their craft. So I can only rank them in order. No disrespect to the others on the list.

George Michael
Frank Herzog
Chick Hernandez
Dave Feldman
Steve Buckhantz

Posted by: alex35332 | May 26, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Never mind about Proctor. This is anchors only. Feldman? Really?

Posted by: TheSecretWeapon | May 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

They all worked in Jim Simpson's shadow.

Posted by: djorl | May 26, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Where's Joe Fowler or Gus Johnson????

Posted by: jmontemayor32 | May 26, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse


No Ken Broo???

Posted by: CapsNut | May 26, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Feldman is awful. He should be a weatherman.

Posted by: MarylanDChris | May 26, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The truth is, most of these were pretty awful. Sort of stock sportscaster characatures...never felt like any of them "broke" stories. Lindsay Czarniak is actually right now as good as any of them, seriously. Don't confuse sticking around for a long time with excellence.

Posted by: dbunkr | May 26, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Michael by a mile is right. Brenner was probably better but George was around for what seemed like an eternity. Wolf stank his second time around, he and the rest of the guys don't even belong on a list with Michael and Brenner.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 26, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

ouch...Jess Atkinson denied!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | May 26, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Steinz, I just sent you an e-mail on this but no listing that doesn't include two area broadcasters who have been enshrined in the baseball hall of fame is going to be complete. I'm talking about former Senators' broadcasters and Frick Award recipients Russ Hodges and Arch McDonald.

Posted by: greggwiggins | May 26, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Brenner by a mile!
How can you forget about Scott Clark!!

Posted by: Loggie1 | May 26, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Warner Wolf #1, with Brenner #2.

I'd give an honorary shout to Ken Beatrice for his legacy of sports conversation and I'm glad Johnny Holliday didn't make the list.

Let's go to the video tape....

Posted by: LouLewis | May 26, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Glen Brenner not being #1 currently is a debacle.

Posted by: FlyersSuck | May 26, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Brenner's #1 no matter what this poll says. DC is so transient that a lot of voters haven't been here long enough to even have seen some of these guys on the air. That's the only explanation for Buck, Chick and Feldman (Feldman?) being as high as they are.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | May 26, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

No love for Rene Knott? Okay, he wasn't King George or even Scott Feldman, but he was miles better than Brett Haber, Ken Broo and Jess Atkinson.

I always liked Wally Bruckner and Ken Mease as backup guys.

My main problem with the list is Warner Wolf at #1 - I didn't get to see him until his stint with 9 in the 90s, but I think if you look back at his career over the last 30 years, he's spent much more time in NY than DC.

I have them ranked:
1) Brenner
2) Michael
3) Buckhantz
4) Wolf
5) Hernandez
6) Feldman
7) Herzog

Posted by: mlewis222 | May 26, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Brenner: Ladies and Gentleman, it's Friday which means it's time for another edition of...

Peterson: Encore Wednesday!

Posted by: JohnnyRyde | May 26, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Feldmann is much better on the radio then on televison. He's got a good voice but a face for radio.

Posted by: Poopy-McPoop | May 26, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Hattrik | May 26, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Ken Mease definitely an omission. But the better poll is worst ever. Kenny Broo has to be up there. And let's not forget Todd Whitthorne (spelling?).

Chic? Really? Chic? I thought he only had a job based on unfortunate physical favors paid to network execs. Chic? Baffling.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | May 26, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Brenner!!

Posted by: JDB1 | May 26, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

This would be better if were accurately tagged as the top ten TV sportscasters, not top ten broadcasters. Where's the love for the radio sportscasters such as Dave Johnson of WTOP?

Posted by: greggwiggins | May 26, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

There all great, Not many people have mentioned him but Steve Buckhantz has room to grow because he will still be broadcasting for at least a little while more.

Posted by: Dlewis10 | May 26, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Brenner #1, regardless of the poll. George Michael doesn't hold a candle to him. Herzog is a close 2nd.

Chick Hernandez? Are you kidding? Horrible.

Darrien Chapman? Horrible AND unoriginal, regurgitating tired ESPN catch phrases. Sorry, may he RIP. Same with Gus Johnson.

Czarniak? No. Sage Steele was better. Another unoriginal George Michael stooge.

Under-appreciated as mentioned by others: Ken Mease and Wally Bruckner.

Let's have a poll for best sports broadcasters. We've had some great ones come through, including for Baltimore.

Jon Miller, Mike Fornes, Ron Weber, Chuck Thompson, Mel Proctor, Phil Chenier, Johnny Holiday, Sonny, Sam, Frank and a whole bunch of other good ones I've forgotten.

Posted by: paperboy76 | May 26, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

mel proctor, phil chenier, and charlie slowes should be on that list instead of a few of them... oh is this broacast tv anchors only? sports "broadcasting" should also include play by play guys, how about a ranking of D.C. 's best play by play men? just a ranking of your "favorite" whether they're active or not, i see this as a good part II poll

Posted by: destewar | May 27, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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