The broadcasting career of Mike Forrest spanned more than 40 years, including five in which he worked as a sports reporter and weekend sports anchor for Channel 3.
While that represented only a small percentage of the time spent in his profession, Mr. Forrest could accurately be called a survivor during that span from 1978 through 1982.
“I survived nine management changes and worked with — count ‘em — 34 different news weekend anchors,” he said in a 1984 interview with The Inquirer. “You might say it toughened me up.”
Still, it was a fulfilling life in the industry for Mr. Forrest, 76, who died Monday, May 25, while in hospice care in Bradenton, Fla., of complications resulting from the coronavirus.
Despite his relatively short stint at KYW-TV, Mr. Forrest remained in the area well after his time there. He lived in Cherry Hill until his retirement, working locally as a correspondent for ESPN and conducting a business in which he produced commercials as well as the syndicated food program The Green Grocer, which ran from 1990 through 2000 and aired in 28 U.S. cities, locally on Fox29.
He ended his broadcasting career as a reporter at News 12 New Jersey while fighting Parkinson’s disease after being diagnosed in 1995. He lived his retirement years in Sarasota, Fla.
“There was so much that he talked about over the years,” said his son Brett, a national security reporter for the Wall Street Journal. “He was so proud of his achievements. He absolutely loved being a reporter in Philly. There was just so much going on, so much color and action, and he absolutely was thrilled to be in the mix.”
A native of the Bronx, New York City, who grew up in a housing project and sneaked into Yankee Stadium to watch his idol, Mickey Mantle, Mr. Forrest had dreams of acting on Broadway. He turned to broadcasting after being hired by the New York radio station WNEW, and he got his first big break covering the 1965 civil war in the Dominican Republic.
He transferred to KNEW in San Francisco and covered the 1968 presidential campaign, including the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He then turned to sports, doing radio play-by-play for the NHL’s expansion Oakland Seals and color commentary on Oakland Raiders broadcasts.
He later transitioned to television with the Seals, a move that opened up more TV opportunities for him as a reporter and anchor before he moved east to join KYW-TV in 1978.
He brought what he had learned as a news reporter to sports television. His son remembered his father as being known among the Philadelphia press corps “as the guy who would always find the story and chase after it tenaciously.”
“He was a very tough reporter, and he had very high standards,” Brett said. “He had a very strong journalistic ethic.”
Mr. Forrest left Channel 3 in January 1983, after the station declined to give him a new contract and he was frustrated that he was never promoted to weekday sports anchor.
“No matter how good a job I did, I could never get the weekday anchor job because I was aligned with previous, previous, previous management,” he said in the 1984 interview. “Every time there was a change, one of the newspaper writers would ask why they didn’t give me a try. I became a small but annoying embarrassment to them.”
He signed on with ESPN as its Philadelphia correspondent “doing basically what he had been doing at Channel 3,” his son said. After leaving the cable network, Mr. Forrest, who owned a flower shop in Cherry Hill that he bought during his KYW days, worked behind the camera. He returned in front of the camera reporting for News 12 New Jersey after his Parkinson’s diagnosis.
In addition to his son, Mr. Forrest is survived by his wife of 28 years, Maria; son Craig; daughter Cindy; and five grandchildren. His former wife, Marcia, from whom he was divorced, died in 2013.