Retired radio host Frank Beckmann in hospice care, family says

The Detroit News

Longtime WJR-AM radio host and University of Michigan football play-by-play man Frank Beckmann is in critical condition at an Oakland County hospice facility, his family said Friday.

Karen Beckmann, his wife, told The Detroit News that doctors give him days to live.

The 72-year-old longtime media personality has been suffering from vascular dementia, a rare and untreatable brain disease.

Frank Beckmann

“The doctors said they don’t expect him to last until Monday," his wife said. 

Beckmann, who lives in Rochester Hills, retired from WJR last March, when his contract ended. The next month, he started exhibiting behavior unusual for him. By June, he had been diagnosed, his family said.

In October, he suffered a severe stroke and was hospitalized for 35 days. In December he was transferred to hospice and has since had four more strokes. He is currently semi-comatose, Karen Beckmann said.

Frank Beckmann, who grew up in Detroit, spent 48 years at WJR.

He called UM football games for 33 years and spent several seasons as an announcer for both the Detroit Tigers and the Lions.

Beckmann also hosted a conservative-leaning morning talk show later in his career, when his topics included casting doubts about global warming, discussing the latest in politics, discussing "American Idol" and hosting weekly trivia contests.

“All of us at WJR are praying for Frank and his family right now and I know that he is in the hearts of listeners all over Michigan who have followed him in his legendary 48-year career here at the radio station," the station said in a Friday statement. 

Beckmann was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and has been inducted into the Michigan Associations of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He also wrote a guest column for The Detroit News from 2005-15.

“Frank had a fabulous professional career,” his wife said. “The thing he was best at was his interviews,  he was able to ask the questions that drew his listeners in. His listeners felt as if they were part of the conversation."

The couple has two children, John, 38, and Tori Kughn, 33.

“Frank is a fabulous grandfather. He has three grandchildren and wants to be with them all the time. They love him. He’s also a great father and husband," his wife said.

“Frank has had a great life. He loved what he did, and was so good at what he did.”