Mo, Viewers Want to Know Who Won!

By Jack Limpert

During a lunch yesterday with a veteran of the Washington TV wars we got talking about great moments in local television (including stories about Charlie Rose and Maury Povich when they were young). Here’s one story we enjoyed (and my lunch companion has promised to follow up with a piece about more great TV moments).

Morris “Mo” Siegel was a sports columnist for the Washington Daily News (a lively afternoon tabloid that closed in 1972; it was the home paper for Ernie Pyle, the great World War Two reporter), the Washington Star (an afternoon broadsheet that closed in 1981; Maureen Dowd was one of its young reporters) plus the Washington Times and several other local publications.

Mo seemed to know everyone and loved to tell stories. Because he was such a popular columnist, a local television station, WMAL, the ABC affiliate in third place in the ratings, couldn’t resist offering Mo a slot as a sportscaster on the 11 o’clock news.

A problem soon developed: Mo wanted to be entertaining and didn’t have much interest in the nuts and bolts of TV news. The station manager kept telling Mo that he always had to give viewers all the game scores to go with what he wanted to talk about.

One night Mo had heard enough. He went on the air and nearing the end of the sports news he said, “And here are today’s baseball scores: Three to two, four to nothing, eight to five, six to three, ten to two, five to one. Good night.”

At least that’s the way we remembered it. And we’re pretty sure Mo’s  television career ended not long after.

Here’s more on Mo Siegel, including a Mo and Ben Bradlee story, from the Washington Star alumni website.

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