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Mike Kahn dies

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Giggity, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Giggity

    Giggity Member

    Mike Kahn, who has been writing for the Seahawks' Web site, died of cancer sometime in the last couple days. He also did time at SportsLine, and covered the Sonics for The News Tribune in Tacoma for years. Didn't know him too well, but a great guy by all accounts.
  2. Notepad

    Notepad Member

    I think John Clayton considered him his best friend.
  3. Dan Wetzel

    Dan Wetzel New Member

    Mike Kahn was a great guy, a terrific journalist and a devoted family man. This thread can't have enough stories detailing that.

    Mike should also be remembered as an absolute pioneer in sports journalism.

    In the mid-1990s he saw the power and potential of the internet and knew there was an audience for original, professionally-written sports content.

    At the time no one knew what the internet was, what it would be become or whether it was even anything but a passing fad.

    Mike at one point was a one man editorial team what was then called SportsLine USA (later CBSSportsline and now CBSSports.com). At that time, it would have been impossible to envision he would construct a staff of editors, reporters and columnists to take a start up to a level where a television network would first partner and later purchase it.

    No other sites had full-time writers then. ESPN hadn't yet dared and Sports Illustrated just didn't care.

    In the early years the hurdles of gaining credibility, let alone mere credentials were enormous. Mike fought not only teams, leagues and clueless public relations people but old boy writer and editor organizations that tried to brush us a novelty not worthy of equal access.

    He did it with professionalism and passion. This was a brutal up hill pull.

    Working outside the establishment I don't think Mike ever got the respect or recognition he deserved. He certainly wasn't a self-promoter – he was happiest just writing about the NBA or talking about his kids. That no other media company hired him to build their fledgling online ventures always stunned me. He could've saved a lot of newspaper companies a lot of trouble.

    He always believed foremost in quality and would always tell me if you deliver that, the audience will follow. He was correct then and he is correct now.

    Those of us who got to know and work for Mike are blessed for it; he was tremendous person and a true game changer in the history of this business.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Nice tribute, Dan.
  5. kleeda

    kleeda Active Member

    Dan said it better than I could, and even better, it is all true.
    Mike was instrumental in building a hell of a staff there and some of those people are still there.
    He was way, way, ahead of his time.
  6. very very sad

    rest in peace, Mike

    Dan - thanks for sharing
  7. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    Terrible news. RIP, Mike.
  8. Lester Bangs

    Lester Bangs Active Member

    The guy was one of my heroes growing up and did a lot to help me establish a career.

    One night we're both going up to cover a Sonics game and he asks me to drive. I get to his house to pick him up and he tells me we have to make a quick stop before heading up to the game. I figure he wants to go eat, because he always wanted to go eat. But I end up going to his kid's swim meet.

    Kahn was crazy. RIP.
  9. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Found out today via cell on my day off. I was out having fun, and for several hours, I didn't even have a clue as to how to react.

    I literally would not be where I am today if not for him. In a way, it's a "Wonderful Life" kind of connection, but a little bit more direct than that. If he hadn't done what he did, the next guy wouldn't have, either. And I would have never been hired to do what I do.

    Thanks to Dan for what he said; given my jumble of feelings today, I couldn't have mustered it. It was spot on. What he caught is something I think many of us have tended to forget: Mike broke a lot of ground for all those people sitting in press box seats with "Internet reporter" as their designation. I suppose it had to eventually happen, but Mike made it happen a lot faster, I have no doubt of that.

    I want to write more, but I can't articulate more.
  10. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    r.i.p., mike. a truly wonderful man, pioneer and family man, well documented by those above me. :'( :'( :'(
  11. Pete Wevurski

    Pete Wevurski Member

    Mike Kahn was one of the very best sports journalists I've had the pleasure of knowing or working with. He was one of the reporters I inherited when I became sports editor of the Morning News Tribune in Tacoma in '87.
    Columnist Bart Wright was the Heart & Soul of our department but Mike quickly established himself as its MVP. Nothing proved that so much as the morning George Argyros announced his intention to put the Mariners up for sale.
    Our Mariners beat writer, Steve Buckley, was with the club at spring training in Peoria, and Bart was on vacation, so I turned to Mike and to our other columnist, J. Michael Kenyon, to flesh out details. In retrospect, what I had actually done was sicced Mike on the Mariners. Mike's background was solid in the NFL and NBA, not nearly as much in baseball, but that didn't matter. Mike was the consummate reporter. By the time we went to press that night, I swear, Mike Kahn knew more about the Marinters than anyone in the M's front office! Our readers received a comprehensive report, equal or better to those in the P-I or Times.
    But that was just a sample of Mike's versatility.
    A year or so later, the Seahawks won supplemental draft rights to Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth. You might recall that Bosworth told the Seahawks to trade those rights because there was no way he'd ever sign with Seattle. That still was Boz's stance long after the Hawks went ahead and drafted him anyway. You may have drafted me, Boz told the Hawks, but you'll never sign me. I'll never play for Seattle.
    The NFL preseason was already underway when our staff sniffed out the fact that Boz and his agent, Gary Wichard were, in fact, negotiating with Seattle. We had nailed it down that they were in Dallas one day to meet with Hawks GM Mike McCormack and Coach Chuck Knox. Once we broke that story, the Boz-to-Seattle story took on a life of its own. A day or so later, Mike told me he had closed his books on the Sonics off-season and volunteered to fly down to Oklahoma and to the Bosworth home in Irving, Texas, to work up a full-depth profile on the Boz.
    A week or so later, he was in Irving interviewing the famiiy. Turns out, he sat on the front porch for hours until somebody, anybody, answered the doorbell. It was Brian's dad, Foster. Mike persuaded the family to let him in and share with him some delightful stories of Brian's upbringing. Brian had older siblings but none was as much of a handful as the kid who'd become The Boz. I'll never forget the quote Kathy Bosworth gave Kahn: "It's a good thing Brian wasnt our first child. If he had been our first child, he'd have been an only child."
    Later that day, Mike called me from his hotel room, where he was busily transcribing is notes, and he related that story to me.
    "That's great, Mike," I said. "Do you think you can get a baby picture?"
    "Not to worry," he said, and I could feel his spreading grin through the phone. "I've already got the family album!"
    Mike went back to his transcriptions. Later that same night, while the Seahawks were playing a preseason game with the Rams in Anaheim, we followed up on a tip and learned that Boz was coming to Seattle the next day.
    Naturally, we thought we knew why, so I called John Clayton in the pressbox at the game and told him what we thought we knew, then I called Mike at his hotel and told him, too.
    Mike immediately dashed back to the Bosworth abode, rang the doorbell and, again, Foster answered.
    "Somehow, I knew we'd see you again," he told Mike, then welcomed him back inside and confirmed what we thought we knew.
    We had it. Our story stripped cross A1 the next morning said Bosworth was coming to Seattle today to sign with the Seahawks. Meanwhile, Clayton had written a sidebar with all the details on the multiyear contract, down to the penny.
    But, wait, the story gets even better.
    Based on our report, every sports writer or broadcaster around Puget Sound with a pen, pad, microphone or camera was there at SeaTac the next morning waiting to pounce on the Boz as soon as he emerged from the plane. But Boz wasn't the first person they saw bound up the jetway that bright morning.
    That would have been Mike Kahn, who we had fly back to Seattle on the same flight and booked him the first-class seat next to Boz. I believe his story in the paper the next morning carried the dateline: SOMEWHERE OVER UTAH.
    If there were any doubts about Mike Kahn's ability to produce the goods, they all evaporated over the next day or so when Mike's profile of The Boz ran in the TNT.
    By now, you can imagine that Mike's beat coverage of the Sonics was second to none. He and Clayton taught the whole Puget Sound market how to cover a sports beat and, along with Bart and later Don Borst, Larry LaRue and others, grew into what ESPN's Chris Mortensen once told me was "the greatest sports staff the rest of the country never heard of."
    I told Chris he was wrong. It wasn't a sports staff, it was a family.
    And now Mike Kahn is the first of our family to leave us. We're shocked and heartbroken. He leaves a huge hole that even tons of great Mike Kahn memories won't ever fill up.
    I'll never forget Mike's work ethic, his curiosity, industry, loyalty, friendship and above all, his devotion to JoAnn and his pride in Sarah and Andy.
    He's left us far too soon, but I know I'm not alone when I say I'm awfully glad to have had the time we had together.
  12. beautiful, Pete
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