Channel 4 news anchor Leon Harris, who plays in Holliday’s charity golf tournament every year, planted the seed that Holliday should reach out to the station about a contributing role. Holliday’s versatility and 50 years of broadcasting experience in the D.C. market made him an attractive addition to the team.
“For Johnny, I think one of his strengths is he knows so many people,” NBC Washington assistant news director Matt Glassman said. “He’ll be covering all sports for us because he’s got such deep connections. We’re looking to use him on air as much as we can."
When Holliday, 81, walked into the Channel 4 newsroom in Northwest D.C. on Tuesday before his first appearance on set, Harris and fellow news anchors Jim Handly and Doreen Gentzler, as well as full-time sports anchor Sherree Burruss and meteorologist Doug Kammerer, were among those who immediately made him feel welcome.
“I was blown away by that,” Holliday said. “That really made me feel like a million bucks.”
Holliday served as the host of the Nationals’ pre- and postgame shows alongside former major league player and manager Ray Knight for the past 12 years. After MASN decided not to renew Knight’s contract following a verbal altercation with MASN staff near the end of last season, Holliday, who was looking to cut back his workload in 2019, decided to step away. Former Nats on-field reporter Dan Kolko will replace him as the host of “Nats Xtra” this season.
“I just wanted to do the home games, basically, and they weren’t willing to let me do that, so that was a good time to say goodbye,” Holliday said. “I loved working with Ray Knight. He was a tremendous partner, and the best on-air television guy that I’ve ever worked with. We had a good thing going."
Holliday, whose one-on-one interview with Maryland center Bruno Fernando aired on Channel 4 earlier this week, follows in a long line of NBC Washington sports contributors that includes Sonny Jurgensen, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon and more recently Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Lindsay Czarniak. Glassman described Holliday’s role going forward as “open ended."
“We’ve opened up a great line of communication where we chat, and if there’s something that makes sense, we make it work,” he said. "The arrangement is that he’s a contributor with our team and that we hope you’ll be seeing him a lot.”
“I love it all as much as I always have and don’t think I’ve missed a beat,” Holliday said.