Detroit broadcast legend Frank Beckmann dies at 72

Former WJR radio host dies nearly one year after retiring

Detroit sports broadcaster Frank Beckmann to retire

DETROIT – Longtime broadcaster and WJR host Frank Beckmann has died nearly one year after retiring from his decadeslong career, according to several reports.

Beckmann’s family reported on Friday that the man was in hospice care. WJR is reporting that Beckmann died Saturday night at a hospice center in Clarkston.

A beloved Metro Detroit staple, Beckmann spent 48 years behind the microphone as the constant voice from the golden tower of the Fisher Building. He started out doing sports before he branched into talk radio.

Throughout his career, he was the only person to broadcast games for all four of Detroit’s major sports teams -- the Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and Lions.

Beckmann said he’s proud of having moved home plate from the old Tiger Stadium to Comerica Park when it opened. Still, the broadcaster said last year that his favorite experience was spending 33 years in the Big House broadcast booth, announcing for Michigan Football -- which included a memorable national championship.

“It was a tremendous part of my life and my career,” Beckmann said. “I guess I’ll forever be full of blue blood in my veins, is the bottom line, because you can’t be associated with those great people all those years and not have it sink in and become part of you.”

In 2003, WJR approached him to do his own local talk show.

“I don’t even realize how much I’m going to miss it yet. I don’t think I realize the depth of it,” Beckmann said ahead of his retirement. “I’ve loved this job. It’s been me all these years, and now suddenly I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and do whatever I want this weekend and, better yet, on Monday, I can do it then too.”

Beckmann was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, and has a long list of accolades.

“I promise I’ve gotten more return for doing this job than I ever could have given, and I’ve tried my hardest to give,” Beckmann said. “Thank you for the kind words and everyone who has listened to the radio show or broadcasts.”

More: Detroit sports broadcasting legend Frank Beckmann to retire after 48 years

The longtime host at WJR in Detroit has died at the age of 72.

Here is Beckmann’s obituary, as shared by WJR.com:

“Broadcasting veteran and longtime WJR host Frank Beckmann died Saturday night at a hospice center in Clarkston.

"Beckmann, who spent 48 years on “The Great Voice of The Great Lakes,” started with the station back in 1973 as the newsroom’s youngest-ever reporter. Equal to his passion for journalism was his love for sports. In the mid-70s, Frank became the station’s sports director, and set to work creating innovative programming such as WJR’s “SportsWrap,” a first-of-its-kind sports talk program.

"In addition to his time at WJR, Beckmann spent 33 years calling University of Michigan football games, replacing the great Bob Ufer back in 1981. Frank also served as an announcer for both Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions games.

"Frank has received numerous honors, including induction into both the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

"Beckmann was diagnosed in June with vascular dementia, a rare and untreatable brain disease. He also suffered a stroke back in October, which kept him hospitalized for 35 days. Beckman had since suffered four more strokes.

"Frank is survived by his wife Karen, son Jonathan, daughter Tori, and grandchildren Pierson, Brooks, and Sawyer.

"In lieu of flowers, the family is asking instead for donations to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is creating the Frank Beckmann Center for Journalism."

WJR

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.