“I’M GETTING READY TO TAKE MY KID TO A DANCE,” Michael Barkann says when I reach him on his cell phone to set up an interview. “Hang on, I have to unload groceries.”
Barkann? Unloading groceries? Kids?
In fact, he’s got two: Emily, 14, and Matthew, 10.
Who would have thought it? Where does he find the time? Barkann lives on TV. Look up from a barstool, and there he is, chatting up experts and former players before and after big games; look up on a weekday night at happy hour, and there he is again, talking with Daily News sportswriters and tossing off barbs; and then, after Eagles’ games, just as you’re ordering that one last brew before heading home, you look up, and yep, him again, that Barkann guy, hosting the postgame show.
Type “ubiquitous” and “Philadelphia” into a Google search, and you half expect to see the screen fill with the visage of Michael Barkann — smart-looking jacket, tie knotted tight and right, sporting that crooked smirk that’s served him well in this town for so long.
It took major chutzpah to up and leave a sports-anchor gig in Boston 14 years ago to return to Philly, where he’d spent five years at Channel 3 in the late ’80s, for an undefined position with Comcast’s fledgling and unstructured sports channel. (His boss in Boston told him that basic cable was the television equivalent of Siberia.)
The sports fare at Comcast SportsNet has morphed innumerable times on its journey from free-form to buttoned-down, and Barkann’s been there for all of it. In recent years, though, despite the perception that he’s still on the air damn near 24/7, Barkann now has a schedule that gives him time at home in Newtown Square with his wife, Ellen, and his two kids.
His signature hosting venues are the pre- and postgame shows (of which “Eagles Postgame Live,” with the panel of Ed Rendell, Ray Didinger, Vaughn Hebron and Derrick Gunn doing player interviews is the gem) and the weekday 5 p.m. “Daily News Live” chat fest, now in its 14th year.
“You want me as a subject for a column?” Barkann says, getting back on his cell, the sound of the car door slamming behind him. “I was just unpacking groceries. This is my life. I’m really boring.”