When I heard Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen was taking off the entire month of June, I was jealous. Then a little concerned.
We all know Dale plays golf and poker and hookie with the best of them - seems like he was off all of April, too - but yesterday I called just to make sure everything is okay.
Hansen, who's been doing sports in this market (29 years) longer than some of you have been alive, admits to being bored. Says his doctor is trying to treat him for depression. Points out that he's been dragging lately with a generally shitty attitude.
He'll be back on TV at the end of the month, but I'd be surprised if he keeps his radio gig at 103.3 FM ESPN through the summer.
"I'm not burned out," he told me yesterday, "but I can see it from here."
It's nothing, he hopes, an unscripted vacation can't cure. Hansen, who was actually only off 2 1/2 weeks in April, has already tripped to Washington D.C. and the Carribean this year.
"But when I got home I was so tired I couldn't walk," he said. "Now I'm going to do something I never done in my life. I'm taking a vacation with absolutely no plan. I'll play some golf. I'll play some cards. But mostly I'll do nothing."
We (right, Channel 8 weatherman Pete Delkus?) kid Hansen about his casually flexible schedule. But, believe it or not, he's one of the hardest working people in the biz.
Despite skipping June, by the end of the year Hansen will work 13 more days than anyone named Campos, McCaa or Delkus. He works Sunday nights during football season. And he works 120 nights a year at ESPN Radio.
Though he says he's not depressed, time has dulled his zest.
"I'm not buying that I'm depressed for a minute," Hansen says. "I'm getting beat on the river card and my golf game sucks, but I laugh all the time. I'm okay. I still love sports but - I hate to say this out loud - the games bore me. Have for a long time."
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Hansen's TV contract runs through January 2013, when he'll turn 65. He says at that time he'll have no problem taking a pay cut in a media environment suddenly, and perhaps eternally, void of lucrative contracts. His radio show - Monday through Friday 6-7 p.m. - seems a more likely casualty of personal downsizing.
"People say I'm arrogant but in all honesty, I'm a grounded guy. I get it," Hansen says. "I know how lucky I am. I know we've all been overpaid for a long time. And I know it's coming to an end. I'm fine with that. I want to be Harold Taft. I want to be on the set until the doctor drags me out kicking and screaming."
Hansen may have lost some hair, some interest and some edge. But he hasn't lost his sense of humor. He'll return to Channel 8 on Tuesday, June 30.
"Well, hell," he says, "I couldn't take off the entire month."