Music Writer Susan Whitall and TV Reporter Al Allen Among Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Inductees

February 20, 2021, 9:09 AM by  Allan Lengel

Susan Whitall

Award-winning music writer Susan Whitall, who worked for decades at The Detroit News, and Al Allen, a radio and TV reporter in Detroit for 50 years, are among seven new Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame inductees. A ceremony will be scheduled this fall.

Whitall worked as an editor and reporter for the iconic Creem Magazine from1975-83 before joining The News. She chronicled the evolution of the music industry and got to know such greats as Aretha Franklin, Berry Gordy and a slew of rock stars. She went on strike in 1995 and rejoined the paper after the union agreed to return to the newsroom.

She took a buyout in 2016, but continues to freelance for the publicaiton. 

She is the author of three books -- "Women of Motown," "Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death" and the "Birth of Soul" -- and editor of "Joni on Joni: Interviews and Encounters with Joni Mitchell," published in 2018.

Al Allen, who retired in 2012, worked in radio and TV.  

Al Allen

The Arkansas native came to Detroit in the early 1970s to work at WJLB as an anchor/reporter and eventually made his way to Fox 2  in 1984 where he became a beloved street reporter for 28 years.  In 2018, he wrote a memoir titled "We're Standing By."

Other Hall of Fame inductees are:

  • Joanne Gerstner, a former Detroit News sportswriter, who teaches at Michigan State University
  • Tom Henderson, former Detroit Free Press and Crain's Detroit Business writer. 
  • Jean Jennings, 40-year automotive writer, editor and teller of humorous tales.
  • Edward Lapham, news-breaking auto editor, leader and mentor to many. He was executive editor of Automotive News.
  • Marjorie Sorge, premier auto and labor writer; editor of two auto publications.

The Hall of Fame will announce by June 1 a date for the ceremony and whether it will be held virtually or in person at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on Michigan State University's campus. 

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