Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of sports and a jovial interview style, Hitzges has likely never been accused of not knowing how to get his point across. He confessed on Thursday that his announcement had thrown him for a loop, however.
“I don’t know how to say goodbye to you,” Hitzges said as he announced his decision to retire over the air. “I’ve thought about this for weeks, and I don’t know how to say goodbye.”
Before joining the Ticket team in 2000, Hitzges had long established himself as a pioneer of sports talk media in North Texas. As an on-air host for KLIF in the 1980s, Hitzges was one of the first broadcasters to focus solely on sports in Dallas. For more than 20 years, Hitzges has hosted the Normathon, an annual all-day broadcast that has raised millions of dollars for the Austin Street Center homeless shelter in Dallas.
For the few years between the Ticket’s 1994 beginning and Hitzges joining its lineup, some of the irreverent Ticket hosts took playful shots at the established Hitzges, who represented an older generation of local media. George Dunham of the Ticket’s Dunham and Miller Morning Show was one of those personalities who had some fun on the air at Hitzges’ expense. Looking back, Dunham remembers the time Hitzges went from his opponent to a teammate more than two decades ago.
MASSIVE NON-DISCLOSURE. pic.twitter.com/AmJYGVwqaH— gordon keith (@gordonkeith) June 15, 2023
“There’s no doubt it was uncomfortable at the beginning,” he told the Observer Thursday afternoon. “We wondered how it would work because we were so different, but I don’t really remember much tension because Norm made it so easy. He was just himself, Norm. Whatever feelings we had of ‘Oh, we gotta work with this guy now,’ were gone almost immediately because Norm is so personable. He looks you dead in the eye and says [Dunham imitating Hitzges' voice], ‘How ‘ya doin’, pal?’”
In his remarks Hitzges noted he had “become addicted to this job.” In 2020 he announced he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, but said on Thursday his retirement is not related to his health. For his part, Dunham is unable to imagine not seeing Hitzges every day in the studio when Dunham hands the microphone over to him as his show ends and Hitzges’ begins at 10 a.m.
“I didn’t know that Norm couldn’t or wouldn’t stay on the air until he was 100,” Dunham said. “It did catch me off-guard. I never thought he would leave. I remember when Craig [Miller, Dunham’s co-host] and I were in college, we listened to Norm’s show and we couldn't believe he was going to talk about sports every day. And now here we are doing it, and I don't think we would’ve gotten the chance to do it without Norm doing it first.”
Hitzges’ last day on the air will be Friday, June 23, but Dunham is sure his soon-to-be former colleague will still talk sports. Dunahm said with a knowing laugh, “I think his wife, Mary, is going to have to listen to his rants about the Cowboys’ secondary now.”