reporter, WJR-AM Radio, Michigan Chronicle
What began as anonymous letters to theMichigan Chronicle under the pen name “Big Mouth Black” blossomed into a career of reporting and commentary with WJR-AM Radio. Known as the “dean” of Detroit City Hall reporters, Bill Black, born George Martin in 1929, specialized in urban affairs reporting and spent nearly 20 years covering the city he loved.
A consummate professional, Bill Black had the uncanny ability to ask the tough questions with honesty, directness and a unique depth of perception. Said one of his colleagues, “Bill Black didn’t just have a nose for the news; he had a sensor for the truth.” Mr. Black’s knowledge of Detroit and its history was unrivaled.
He covered hard news with diligence and that meant checking and rechecking the facts of every story. Mr. Black covered news where news was happening: Wayne County government, Detroit government, the Detroit School system, the police beat and everywhere in between. Yet this stern, seasoned reporter doubled as a mentor, confidante and hero to many young reporters. He showed them the ropes and urged them to read, read, read anything that could give them information and then check, check, check to be certain that information was accurate. Bill Black was, as Detroit Free Press publisher Neal Shine said, “the quintessential news person.” He died September 21, 1992.