Johnny Holliday is stepping away from his MASN work. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Johnny Holliday, a local broadcasting legend who took on the job of Nationals pre- and postgame host shortly after the team first came to town, said Wednesday he is stepping away from his role on MASN as he cuts back his workload.

Holliday, 81, is the full-time voice of Maryland football and men’s basketball, a role he has held since 1979. When the Nationals began their full-fledged pre- and postgame shows in 2006, a year after they arrived from Montreal, Holliday began a second job, serving alongside former major league player and manager Ray Knight to introduce and wrap up the team’s play each night on “Nats Xtra.”

Knight, however, didn’t have his contract renewed this offseason following a verbal altercation with MASN staff near the end of last season. When the Nationals are home, the shows originate from Nationals Park, which was an easy commute from Holliday’s Kensington home. But when the team is on the road, the shows are broadcast from a studio in suburban Baltimore, and the nightly travel began to wear on Holliday.

“With Ray gone, seems like a good time to back off a little,” Holliday wrote in an email. “Now I will have more time with family and I have a very happy wife, as you might imagine.”

Even though play-by-play man Bob Carpenter, who has held that position since 2006, and analyst F.P. Santangelo will return next year, the Nationals’ broadcasts will thus have a new look in 2019. Former Nats outfielder and first baseman Michael Morse has done some fill-in work over the past two seasons but has struggled to find his footing. Dan Kolko, who has served as MASN’s sideline reporter since 2014, has capably filled in as a pre- and postgame host and has a strong following among the fan base.

Byron Kerr, who covers the team for MASN’s website and serves as the play-by-play voice of George Washington men’s basketball, has also served as a fill-in host for “Nats Xtra.”

“Johnny Holliday has been an integral part of baseball in Washington,” the Nationals said in a statement Wednesday. “He began by hosting the Senators’ pregame radio show with Ted Williams. He has been a beloved part of the Nationals family since 2006. While he has decided to step down from his broadcast role with MASN, he will always be an important part of our organization.”

MASN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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