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Detroit radio legend Rod Hansen dies

Rod Hansen
via WJR

One of the great voices in Detroit radio journalism has died.

Rod Hansen was an investigative reporter with WJR-AM 760 from 1967 until 2005.

A tough and tenacious reporter mostly on the federal court beat, Hansen won a slew of prestigious awards over the course of his career.

They include two Peabody Awards — one for a 23-part series exposing high-level corruption and collusion between judges, staff and attorneys at Detroit’s federal bankruptcy court in the early 1980s; and another that helped exonerate a man wrongfully convicted of his girlfriend’s murder in the mid-1990s.

Hansen also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Associated Press, and is a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Until recently, Hansen was the first press officer at Detroit’s federal courthouse, helping coordinate media coverage for high-profile cases like the corruption trial of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.

Despite a sometimes gruff persona, Hansen was also well-loved for being kind and helpful, and as a mentor to young journalists.

WJR announced Hansen’s death Monday. He was 75, and had been battling cancer. He's survived by his wife, four children, and five grandchildren. 

Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, 2-9 pm at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home in Canton. A funeral is scheduled there the following day at 10 am.


Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.