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Friendship Fuels MASN's 'Nats Xtra'

By Dave Hughes

Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight are not merely co-hosts of the "Nats Xtra" half-hour pre- and postgame shows on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. They are also the best of friends.

"We have a really nice relationship," former Baltimore Oriole Ray Knight said. "We're very similar people. We both love life. I'm doing a game that I love with a man that I love."

"We've been together six years," local radio veteran Johnny Holliday said. "We're pretty much the same. We're friends. We spend a lot of time together."

Holliday is in his fifth season with MASN, and his 33rd season as the voice of the Maryland Terrapins for both football and men's basketball. He's covered the Olympics for ABC Radio, where he spent 28 years as a morning sports anchor.

A longtime staple of Washington, D.C., radio and television, Holliday has also called play-by-play for the Washington Bullets and hosted shows for the Washington Redskins.

A native of Miami, Holliday has worked in four of the nation's top radio markets: Cleveland, New York City, San Francisco and Washington.

"Johnny hasn't changed a bit over the years," Knight said. "He is unbelievably professional and so prepared. He makes my job so easy. His whole family is a big part of my life. I hang out at Johnny's house. We even play golf together."

Holliday has made his home -- including a basement apartment dubbed "the Presidential Suite" -- and his family available to help Knight during some low points in his life, Knight said.

Georgia native Knight came to MASN with the launch of the network, and began working with Holliday. They've been co-hosting "Nats Xtra" since 2007.

Knight led the New York Mets to a World Series Championship in 1986. He played professional baseball for 17 years, 13 of which were spent in the major leagues as an infielder with the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Detroit Tigers.

"Ray is at the top of my list," Holliday said. "His experiences as a player, in the Series, make him great company to work with."

In 1987, Knight joined the Baltimore Orioles, but the team finished sixth in the American League East that year, narrowly avoiding 100 losses.

Knight retired from baseball in 1989 and became an ESPN broadcaster, spending time working on "Baseball Tonight" and covering college sports. There he met Bob Carpenter, who later became a staple of Nationals coverage on MASN.

In 1993, Knight returned to the major leagues as a coach for Cincinnati, where he became manager of the Reds from 1995-97.

After a few more years with ESPN, Knight jumped to CBS in 2002 to cover college sports. But, soon, it was to off to the D.C.-Baltimore area to work for the fledgling MASN.

Holliday and Knight do their Nationals home-game coverage from the D.C. stadium and away-game coverage from MASN's Hunt Valley studio.
Both Holliday and Knight said this year was more special than their previous years together, because the Nationals were playing so well.

"Yeah, when the Nationals are playing better, that rubs off on the show," Holliday said. "Everybody wants to stop by and say hello. It's one of the most enviable franchises in baseball. Everyone has a better frame of mind when we win."

"It was hard the first four years [of doing "Nats Xtra"] when the team wasn't playing well," Knight said. "But things are so much better this season. Now that the team is winning, everything's better."

Knight said he had a dream job -- working with a great friend and covering a game he loves, without having to travel often or work during the winter.
Issue 175: July 2012