Paul W. Smith: Farewell to retiring Detroit radio legend Dick Haefner

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Monday Moanin’” 

For the first time in 51 years, Detroit news legend, WJR radio news director and my beloved morning show news anchor, Dick Haefner, did not have to turn off his alarm and head to work to wake us up with reports of what happened while we were asleep.

Today is the first day of Dick’s well-earned retirement.

Dick Haefner, WJR news director, has retired and will be missed, writes Paul W. Smith.

Frankly, it’s rare in radio for people to be able to leave on their own terms.  

He did. 

With Dick’s guidance, WJR news has won just about every award, local and national, that exists. 

We’re talking Edward R. Murrow and Peabody Awards, Associated Press national awards for Best Broadcast Reporting and more news awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters than we can count.  

Dick is a true Detroit hometown success story, starting in radio news in 1969 and rising to one of the most coveted broadcasting positions in the country in 1989, as news director of WJR.  

It was amazing how many people we heard from who were helped by him, in and out of broadcasting. 

I was one of them. 

It was Dick Haefner who called this kid from Monroe, then working in radio and television in Toledo, to tell me about a job opening that eventually put me on a path through Detroit, New York City, Philadelphia and back home to WJR radio. 

Dick tells me the biggest compliment I have ever given to him in all of our years together is when I started pointing out on the air that he presented the news the way it was supposed to be presented — as news, not his opinion. 

Very rare these days, and very much appreciated. He will be missed. 

Thank you, Dick. 

Paul W. Smith is host of “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.