Popular sports broadcaster Carol Maloney is leaving her role as a sports anchor at NBC Washington, again opening what has been one of the most prominent jobs in local sports media.

Maloney, a fixture in local broadcasting, has worked at WRC for six years, officially replacing Dianna Russini as a full-time anchor and reporter more than two years ago. That role included hosting the station’s Sunday morning “Redskins Showtime” program, hosting other pre and postgame Redskins shows, reporting on local teams and serving as a sports anchor. Her contract expired this fall, and she expressed interest in a more senior role as the station’s sports director, a role that hasn’t been officially filled since the legendary George Michael. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, and Maloney chose to depart.

“I’m walking away; I’m betting on myself like Kirk Cousins,” Maloney said with a laugh this week.

It’s not a perfect analogy. Maloney, who has two children, is committed to remaining in the Washington market, and already turned down an opportunity to interview for a job in the New York market. But it’s not a terrible analogy, either. She said she wanted to take a bigger role in leading her sports department into a digital-first future, with the title and responsibilities to match. And she was willing to walk away if the offer didn’t feel right.

“It was important to me, just because I think [sports director] was an appropriate title and I earned it. Not that I was entitled to it, but I thought I had earned it,” she said. “When you have leverage, you get to see what someone’s going to offer you to stay. And if you think that it doesn’t meet your value, you can decide to go somewhere else.”

The WRC sports anchor job has served as a launching pad in recent years, with Lindsay Czarniak, Dan Hellie and Russini all moving into national roles after leaving Washington. Sports reporter/anchor Sherree Burruss remains at the station, which plans to replace Maloney with another full-time sports broadcaster, but not a sports director.

“We don’t have that position here, and it’s not a job we’re hiring for,” said assistant news director Matt Glassman, who called Maloney “fantastic,” said the station wanted her to stay and said the move was her decision. “Our sports department operates as a team,” he said, “and Carol has played a vital role in its success.”

Maloney, meanwhile, is now a media free agent. She said her time at WRC was “a dream come true,” and said she isn’t looking for a national job or one out of this market. (Co-workers are throwing her a “going nowhere party” instead of a going away party.) She has considered teaching journalism, but is also pursuing other sports and news broadcasting opportunities in the Washington market.

Full disclosure: Maloney is a friend. We’ve done goofy bits together, and I think she shares my general feeling that while sports reporting is often serious, it can also be fun. In this era of incessant media change, she was interested in resetting her focus, creating content that worked digitally and could then be spruced up as needed for television. (The station recently put online her entire interview with Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, a 45-minute conversation that made national news.) And she always thought her audience included non-sports fans; her approach, she said, was to “think of the people who don’t care or don’t know [about sports], and have them in mind when I format my show.”

“I don’t want to be all-entertaining; I want to provide information, and do it in a real way,” she said. “I’d rather stumble and laugh at myself than sound rehearsed, but it helps that I’m really comfortable with the material. I know what I’m talking about. I don’t wing it. I over-prepare.”

Maloney’s last news broadcast at WRC is Thursday night, and her last edition of Redskins Showtime will air Sunday morning. Other local sports broadcasters, including those from the station’s corporate partners at NBC Sports Washington, will help fill in until a new hire is made.

Read more from the Post: