After 36 years at NBC4, beloved local newsman Pat Collins is retiring, saying goodbye to viewers in the Washington region. Throughout his long tenure in broadcast journalism, Collins combined hard-boiled crime reporting with light-hearted coverage of winter storms and annual fairs. He developed a following across the DC area, attracted national attention, and inserted himself into Washington’s cultural fabric. He will retire before the start of the new year.
Collins is among a generation of journalists at NBC4 who were once giants of the local media landscape, including Jim Vance, Bob Ryan, and Doreen Gentzler, and the last still on air. With his retirement, Collins leaves behind his signature totem—the “snow stick”—as well as a library of memorable news clips. Here’s a look at our five favorite Pat Collins moments.
In what is widely considered his finest work, Collins examined the story of a 14-year-old boy who got suspended after running across a high school football field at halftime…in a banana suit. In homage to the getup, Collins donned a grape costume to conduct the interview. (Watch the original 2011 clip here.) Ten years after the segment first aired, the newsman caught up with the story’s subject for a where-are-they-now piece.
Mike the Cheater
Last year, Collins reported on a car that was vandalized with “Mike the cheater.” One problem? The car did not belong to Mike. Collins’s dramatic delivery went viral, and the clip was even turned into an auto-tuned song. (The reporter told Washingtonian he gives the song “three out of four stars.”)
No Snow Stick for You, Gov
In an impressive display of journalism ethics, Collins refused to give a snow stick to then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe—unless he followed the rules for entering the snow stick challenge contest just like everyone else.
When the Washington Capitals squared off against the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, Collins marked the occasion by conducting his man-on-the-street interviews in an Elvis outfit.
Among those amused by Pat Collins’s body of work is, apparently, John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Oliver has featured the NBC4 newsman’s clips on his own show more than once, turning the signature Collins cadence into beat poetry.