Mark Howard

Longtime NewsChannel 5 sports anchor Mark Howard has died at the age of 65.

Howard, who is survived by his wife Debra and their two sons, was found unresponsive in his Bellevue-area home Sunday morning.

It would be a difficult task to find a Nashville sports fan who doesn’t know who Howard is.

He joined NewsChannel5 in 1986 and spent 20 years as the station’s weekend sports anchor. After leaving NewsChannel 5, Howard joined 104.5-FM The Zone as a co-host of the popular morning drive sports talk show The Wake Up Zone along with former Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck and Vanderbilt director of digital operations and broadcaster Kevin Ingram. 

The show quickly became the No. 1-rated sports talk show in the city, and Howard was a Zone employee for 21 years.

“We are extremely saddened to share [of Howard's death],” The Zone said in a statement. “Mark was a very talented sports broadcaster, a good friend to many of us and will always be a big part of our history. Sending our thoughts and prayers to his family.”

Howard also had stints hosting the Nashville Predators pre-game and post-game shows on then-Fox Sports South, the Titans postgame show, and as an occasional fill-in host for 102.5-FM The Game this year.

Referred to by many as a walking sports encyclopedia, there wasn’t a sport or local team that Howard didn’t know or wouldn’t talk about. Howard will be fondly remembered for his wisdom and ability to connect and interact with fans.

“Tough news,” Ingram tweeted. “Had a lot of fun working with Mark for a lot of years. Still talked to him on a regular basis, will miss our chats about baseball and everything else. A good friend who was always encouraging and supportive toward my career. Condolences to his family.”

Added Predators play-by-play broadcaster and former Howard colleague Willy Daunic: “Mark was a respected colleague, a kind heart, and a good friend. Always prepared and extremely knowledgeable. Most important: as [Kevin Ingram] mentioned — nobody was more encouraging to his peers. Such a genuine source of support to me and many others. Sad, sad day.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_