reporter, WJR Radio
When most reporters were looking for Jimmy Hoffa’s body in 1975, Rod Hansen was looking for a motive in the death — work that led to a conviction and union reform efforts.
And when others were reporting and forgetting the murder of a Westland woman in the 1990s, Hansen was investigating an overlooked suspect and helping free the woman’s wrongly accused boyfriend.
Story after story, Hansen is always a step ahead in his reporting for WJR-AM, keeping in touch with sources and haunting government offices to keep close to the news that matters.
“It is often said in this building that, if you want to know what is going on, ask Rod Hansen, as he is on top of all the issues,” wrote U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman.
After learning the business at the stations in Ohio, Hansen started as an evening news anchor at WJR in 1967, and has worked as a street reporter and news director at the station since.
His attention to detail, willingness to investigate and strict sense of ethics helped him garner two Peabody Awards, the most prestigious broadcast journalism award, as well as honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the American Bar Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Michigan Press Association.
“I know that the term ‘fair and balanced’ is sometimes abused and used to describe people who don’t deserve it, but in the case of Rod Hansen, it can truly be said that he is a fair and balanced reporter,” wrote former Attorney General Frank Kelley.
But he’s best known among other journalists as the teacher, mentor and helper to new reporters first stepping into a courthouse and veteran reporters still digging right before deadline.
“To watch his patience and persistence in untangling the threads of complicated stories is to see first hand how a professional works at his craft,” wrote Jennifer Moore, who worked with Hansen in the late 1970s.