It is the end of an era.
After more than 38 years, Dale Hansen, the dean of Texas’ sportscasters and one of the most recognized faces in Dallas-Fort Worth television history, signed off for the final time.
Hansen’s legendary career at WFAA began on March 28, 1983, and just a few months later the station debuted “Dale Hansen’s Sports Special,” a show that’s been a staple of WFAA’s Sunday night line-up ever since. During his time reporting on Dallas-Fort Worth sports, he covered the local teams in three Super Bowls, three Stanley Cup Finals, two World Series and two NBA Finals.
Hansen never shied away from asking the tough questions, seeking answers to questions the audience wanted to know, but no one else would ask, including in interviews with local sports owners like Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban.
In recent years, Hansen gained attention for his “Unplugged” commentaries, wading into issues like kneeling for the national anthem, Michael Sam in the NFL, gun control, and the pandemic.
Former Cowboys Quarterback Troy Aikman said in 2019, “I don’t ever remember seeing [an Unplugged] that didn’t make me take a step back and say ‘wow, I never thought about it quite like that. You know what? He’s right.’”
It was his investigation of SMU’s football program that first put him on the map in 1986.
He uncovered that university officials and some of the state’s highest politicians were paying players to play. The investigation led to the school receiving the NCAA’s first and only death penalty, prohibiting the Mustangs from fielding a team in 1987.
As a result of the investigation, Hansen was awarded with the George Foster Peabody Award for Distinguished Journalism and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, universally known as the two most prestigious honors in broadcast journalism.
“I’ve also said this many times, too: I wish that story didn't have to be told, but I'm incredibly proud of the fact that we were the ones who did,” Hansen said of the story in 2020.
He has covered every major sport story in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for almost four decades, but his favorite piece every year is Thank God For Kids, his Christmas tradition set to the Oak Ridge Boys song with the same title.
“There's not enough time in the day to list all the favorite moments of Thank God for Kids. There are enough memories from that to last me two lifetimes,” Hansen said last year.
He was the first local on-air broadcaster to receive the Radio Television Digital News Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which he was awarded in 2019.
Hansen, who is originally from Logan, Iowa, never went to college and has had 11 jobs in his life (and been fired from nine of them).
He began his career as a radio disc jockey and operations manager in Newton, Iowa, before becoming a sports reporter at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska.
He came to Dallas in 1980, spending just over two years at KDFW before moving to WFAA in 1983. Hansen served as color analyst for the Dallas Cowboys radio broadcasts in the ’90s when the team won 3 Super Bowls in four years.