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'You knew you were always going to get a great story' | Remembering former WUSA reporter, anchor Mike Buchanan

Buck, as his former colleagues and friends called him, was an "OG," an original gumshoe reporter.

WASHINGTON — Mike Buchanan was once described as the last of the hard-bitten breed of journalists in the television news business of rising stars with blow-dried hair. 

Buck, as his former colleagues and friends called him, was an "OG," an original gumshoe reporter.

He began his career in the 1960s, working at newspapers and other stations, even as a news director.

But, his passion was street reporting. 

In 1970, he came to work at the "One and Only TV9" to do just that.  

Mike had lots of tenacity when it came to his crime beat. And, he gained a reputation for breaking the big stories. 

Reporting major news from John Hinckley, Jr. who shot President Ronald Reagan to fugitive William Bradford Bishop for the killing of his wife, mother and three children, and the tarot card left at a murder scene by the Beltway Sniper.

"He was like a bulldog with a story, with the Beltway Sniper killings," former colleague Gordon Peterson said. "Police found a tarot card with a message from one of the shooters on it. Mike found out about it. What do you do with that information, well you report it. Chief Moose, the chief of the Montgomery County Police Department at the time, went ballistic! He said if Buchanan and Channel 9 think they can solve this thing then do it. I remember thinking, that's not a bad idea." 

WUSA9 anchor Bruce Johnson said, "He had more sources in the police department than any other reporter old or young."

In 1989, Buchanan made broadcast history, teaming with Andrea Roane to anchor the first 4 pm newscast in the D.C. area.

"When the news director told me my co-anchor at 4 pm was going to be Mike Buchanan, I thought he had lost his mind," former co-worker Andrea Roane said. "Everyone in town knows Mike as the Joe Friday kind of delivery crime reporter.  And, the guy who rode on the "On the Road" mobile, kinda crazy, wild and crazy guy, great sense of humor. But, working with him as a co-anchor was one the best things that ever happened to me." 

A few years later, they teamed up to take the helm of the early morning news show.  

Roane said, "He used to say he was crass and I was class, but he was a class act all the way."

It wasn't only Mike's hard-hitting news reporting that drew viewers in. But, an appreciation for his offbeat sense of humor, and his popular "Mike on the Road," series.

"He loved our community and he loved what he did for our community," former colleague Maureen Bunyan said.

When it came to deadlines, Mike always thought they were a nice suggestion. He always felt a good meal could be had at a 7-Eleven or a Wawa.

And, his desk, some say, would qualify as an archaeological dig.

"His desk was a mess. You could look for something years back and the thing would have coffee stains." said his friend Andrea Roane.

And no matter the company or call letters, Mike exemplified the meaning of true grit, reporting the good, bad and ugly sides of life.

Mike "Buck' Buchanan dedicated more than three decades paving the way for the next generation of journalists.

Yes, he will be missed. 

Mike Buchanan is survived by five children and five grandchildren.

Formal Obituary:

For Mike “Buck” Buchanan a hotdog from 7-11 was a destination lunch;

For Mike Buchanan the dashboard of his car was his note pad;

For Mike Buchanan a deadline was just a suggestion.

Mike Buchanan a character with capital “C”. He was a Washington television legend and, for decades, the face of Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

Mike “Buck” Buchanan, died suddenly in Bethany Beach, Delaware on April 16, 2020. Mike is survived by his five children, Katherine Buchanan (Rob McArver), Douglas Buchanan (Andrea Feniak), Mathew Buchanan (Arlene Paulet), Michael Coe Buchanan Jr. (Kerri Livesey) and Daniel Buchanan and his five grandchildren.

Born Michael Coe Buchanan on August 15, 1941 in St. Louis, Missouri, Mike grew up in Chicago in the shadow of Wrigley Field. He was a longtime suffering Cubs fan and, in 2016 when the Cubbies finally won the world series Buck went off like a human sparkler.

Mike attended the University of Missouri and then worked as a newspaper reporter in Oklahoma City. He moved to Washington, DC in 1967 where he first worked at Channel 5 News when it was owned by Metromedia. Later, he became the station’s news director who, most memorably, hired Connie Chung on her first on-air TV job.

From 1970 until 2003 Buck worked at Channel 9, back when it was WTOP, then WDVM and then WUSA. At Channel 9 Mike was a reporter and an anchor.  After Channel 9, Mike worked at WJLA Channel 7 and later he did “The Buck Stops Here” commentary for WTOP Radio. Mike won several Emmys which he kept in a cardboard box somewhere in his garage.

Buck retired from broadcast news in 2012 and moved to Bethany Beach Delaware where he played golf and spent time with his family.

Over the course of his 30-year career in Washington, DC Mike Buchanan was the best television Police Reporter in the City. Law Enforcement trusted Buck; he could walk into the Homicide Squad and read a report as the Detective was typing it. At crime scenes Buck would be escorted behind police lines and get briefings normally reserved for high ranking officers.

In March of 1976 when Bradford Bishop killed his family and took off to the Great Smokey Mountains. It was Mike Buchanan who was on his trail.

On March 30 ,1981 President Reagan shot and wounded outside the Washington Hilton Hotel and John Hinkley was arrested.

But what was the motive?

Mike Buchanan knew.

Hinkley shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. Buck was first with that story which was then broadcast round the world.

In 2003, during the Washington Sniper Attacks it was Buck who broke the story about the so called “death” card left at a school by one of the gunmen. That key piece of evidence helped law enforcement to close the case.

But Buck’s reporting wasn’t always about crime.

He covered politics, even dancing on TV one night with Arthur Fletcher after Fletcher lost the DC Mayoral election.

Buck covered sports. He went to all of the Redskin Super bowls. They are still working on his expense accounts.

And Buck went traveling. In an old black sedan with “Mike’s On the Road” hand painted on the side announcing his arrival. Buck went from place to place doing stories that would even make Charles Kurwalt blush.

No matter what Buck did on television it was always memorable. No one could look down the barrel of the lens of a camera and tell a story like Mike Buchanan. He did it with passion straight from the heart.

Interment will be private. A Memorial Service will be held later.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Bethany Beach Emergency Medical Services:

P.O. Box 950

Bethany Beach, DE 19930

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