Longtime Washington media figure Andy Ockershausen died Wednesday. He was 92.
Ockershausen began working at WMAL in 1950 and made $21 per week plus streetcar passes, the Washington Post reported in 1986. He rose to station manager and general manager and oversaw the hires of Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver as well as Ken Beatrice, and in 1981 chose Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff, and Frank Herzog to call games by Washington’s NFL team. While critics weren’t optimistic about the addition of Jurgensen at first, the trio clicked and became the soundtrack to the football team’s glory days—if you grew up in this area, there’s a good chance you listened to them call games with your TV sound off.
Ockershausen left WMAL in 1986, telling the Post,”WMAL will always be in my heart.” He managed WFTY, then the name for Channel 50, and Home Team Sports, which later became NBC Sports Washington. This publication named him a Washingtonian of the Year in 1995; the writeup began with a story about the time Ethel Kennedy called Ockershausen, furious that the station had declined to report on her missing dog.
He helped to start the Neediest Kids charity and raised lots of money for children’s charities around town. An obituary at WMAL says Ockershausen raised $7 million for Children’s National Hospital and that he worked with groups including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. In recent years he hosted the Our Town With Andy Ockershausen podcast, which featured in-depth interviews with famous Washingtonians like Jim Vance, Mel Krupin, and Wendy Rieger. One episode featured Washingtonian CEO Catherine Merrill, who talked about the city magazine’s surprising roots in espionage.