Mike Buchanan Dead: Longtime D.C. Reporter Dies at 78

Mike Buchanan

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Mike Buchanan, a longtime Washington, D.C., reporter, died on Thursday at the age of 78. The reporter and anchor worked for WUSA in television and WTOP in radio, as well as working as a print reporter. WTOP reported that his daughter confirmed his death of a heart attack at his home in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Buchanan worked as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area covering crime. During his career of over three decades, he covered some major stories in the region. He is survived by five children and five grandchildren.

He Was Described by Former Colleagues as Tenacious, With a Reputation for Breaking Big Stories

WTOP reported that Buchanan was the first to cover the motive behind John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. He also broke the news that a tarot death card had been left at a Beltway Sniper murder scene. In a tribute post about Buchanan, WUSA9 described their former colleague as one of a kind, “an original gumshoe reporter” with “lots of tenacity.”

Former colleague Gordon Peterson said:

He was like a bulldog with a story, with the Beltway Sniper killings. Police found a tarot card with a message from one of the shooters on it. Mike found out about it. What do you do with that information, well you report it. Chief Moose, the chief of the Montgomery County Police Department at the time, went ballistic! He said if Buchanan and Channel 9 think they can solve this thing then do it. I remember thinking, that’s not a bad idea.

He was known for having great contacts in the police department, with WUSA9 anchor Bruce Johnson saying, “He had more sources in the police department than any other reporter old or young.” Another WUSA9 colleague, Dave Statter, told WTOP, “Just about every police officer in Washington D.C., a lot of firefighters and law enforcement throughout the region, all knew Mike. They knew they could trust him.”

Pat Collins with NBC Washington echoed that statement: “Cops loved Buch! He would have coffee with them; he would have lunch with them. He’d know about their wives, their kids, their problems, their successes,” Collins told WTOP.

His Close Friend Described Him as a True Character With a Unique Work Style

Collins, Buchanan’s close friend, described him as a “character with a capital C.” He said Buchanan would write stories on his car dashboard and didn’t believe in firm deadlines. He always found unique stories and got the details that other reporters missed, Collins said.

He added, “He was just a passionate reporter who could look down the barrel of the lens of a camera and tell a story that you’d never forget.”

Buchanan’s passing is already being felt on social media, as former colleagues and friends are sharing their grief at his death.

WTOP radio anchor Hillary Howard wrote: “Goodbye to the one + only Mike Buchanan: A reporters reporter who always preferred sharing the limelight. A hilarious storyteller. A good man. And oh, so human. [Dave Statter] + I miss you already So much.”

Dave Statter added: “No one had a bigger influence on my news career than Mike Buchanan. Never met a better or more generous reporter. He got me hired at Channel 9 in DC & showed me, by example, how to do the job. Mike broke a lot of stories & started a lot of news careers, Just loved the guy.”

Reporter Paul Jones wrote: “Channel 9 lost another one of ‘the greats’ today. Mike Buchanan was one-of-a-kind. An outstanding journalist & beloved in the newsroom. His terrific sense of humor made Broadcast House such a fun place to work! Thanks for the memories, Buck. #RIP.”