This is the first in a series of stories profiling the seven outstanding journalists who will be inducted into the 2021 class of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
This year's inductees are Al Allen, Joanne C. Gerstner, Tom Henderson, Jean Jennings, Edward Lapham, Marjorie Sorge and Susan Whitall. The 2021 Hall of Fame class will be honored at a ceremony in the fall. The Hall of Fame will announce by June 1 how and when the induction will take place.
Today's profile, written by Joe Grimm, is on Al Allen, a radio and TV reporter on the streets of Detroit for 50 years:
Considered the dean of the city's street reporters, Al Allen covered news in Detroit for almost five decades: A local legend, he innovated news coverage on WJLB radio in the 1970s and later became an iconic presence on Fox 2, covering the city's political climate, snowy road conditions and putting a human-interest spin on the mundane.
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, as Andrew Long, he says, "Journalism was my childhood sweetheart." Allen moved to Detroit with his family and started reporting at Mumford High School for the student in-house broadcast, "Spotlight on Mumford."
He returned to Little Rock in 1969 as news director at KOKY radio. Two years later, he moved back to Detroit, becoming a reporter and news director at WCXI-AM and WGPR-FM, then as news and public affairs director at WJLB-FM.
In 1984, Allen joined WJBK-TV2, then a CBS affiliate, and remained there through the 1994 affiliate switch, covering the unique as well as daily breaking news. He retired from FOX 2 in 2012.
Allen has won many local and national awards for his work. United Press International and the Associated Press both awarded him for his reporting on the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa loyalist Otto Wendell. UPI and AP, along with the National Association of Black Journalists, bestowed awards on "Merry-Go-Round of Denial: The Black Alcoholic."
His trailblazing work on "Crime by Color, Black on Black," a documentary that examined the issues surrounding community crime in Detroit, earned the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. His report, "Motown: Where Did Our Love Go?" earned an Associated Press award and was nominated for an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In 2019, Wayne State University's journalism faculty recognized Allen with the prestigious Working in the Spirit of Diversity Award.
His memoir, "We're Standing By," a collection of stories from his career in radio and TV, was released in 2018.
Allen has been married for more than 50 years to Alfreda Long. They have a son, Andrew Long Jr.; daughter-in-law, Yolanda, and two grandsons, Andrew III and Evan.