'It's just time': Channel 7 sports reporter, anchor Justin Rose leaving broadcast TV

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Not too many folks are fortunate enough to figure out their career path in high school.

Justin Rose is one of the lucky ones.

It was 2002, and he had just finished playing in a JV basketball game for St. Clair High when he hopped on the mic to call the varsity game with the lead play-by-play man — who just so happened to be his dad, Rick. That cameo helped lead Rose to Michigan State, where he majored in journalism, and on to sports-reporting jobs in West Virginia, Lansing, Pittsburgh and eventually Channel 7 (WXYZ) in September 2014.

Justin Rose, a reporter and anchor at Channel 7 (WXYZ) since 2014, is leaving the station Sept. 1.

On Sept. 1, Rose, of Huntington Woods, will be leaving the station and the business — at least, the traditional broadcasting business.

"I'm just ready for a new opportunity," Rose said this week, after wrapping up his coverage of the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. "I think seven years is a long time to stay in a place.

"When I look at the landscape, the media landscape, moving forward, it's way more digital-heavy.

"And I want to be a part of that."

Rose hasn't officially mapped out his next step, but he knows it will continue to be in story-telling, in some fashion — preferably, he said, an outlet where he can tell feel-good stories, in longer form, and digitally. There are time restrictions in broadcast TV that frustrate so many anchors and reporters.

But, as often is the case in the media business, there's more to the story.

Rose began considering his future during the pandemic, when he found himself working from home, and having more time to spend with wife Caity (and on his golf game; a member at Red Run in Royal Oak, he's a single-digit handicapper). Justin and Caity will be celebrating their two-year anniversary Aug. 31, the day before his official last day at Channel 7.

"I want to have more work-life balance," Rose said.

Channel 7 has been a two-man sports staff since then-sports director Tom Leyden left for a job in Boston in 2015, elevating Brad Galli to the sports-director position. A two-man sports staff means when one was on vacation, it was going to be a super long week for the other.

Rose was offered a contract extension by Channel 7, Metro Detroit's ABC affiliate, this spring, but he already had begun exploring his options.

"I just kind of surveyed a lot of different things, and I decided to kind of throw myself out in the wild and see what my skill set can do," Rose said. "The sky's the limit.

"I'm so excited. I feel like a weight was lifted off my chest."

Rose was nothing but complimentary of Galli, who, even though at 32 he's five years younger, has served as a mentor in many ways. And, vice-versa.

"He's been a great friend and a great colleague," Rose said of Galli. "It's a great mutual respect we have for another, and that will continue.

"It's just time. That's the headline for me."

Said Galli: "Justin loves the Detroit sports scene, the sports scene in Michigan. It was awesome to work with him, and it's gonna be awesome to work him over these next couple months. He worked his tail off, man, and he brought a passion for the job every day that was unquestioned. He certainly did with us every single day, and that can be tough to find sometimes."

Channel 7 has hired Rose's replacement; an announcement is expected in the coming days.

Justin Rose is a four-time Emmy winner from his time at Channel 7 (WXYZ).

Rose has covered all the pro sports teams and the big colleges, and a variety of marquee stories, while anchoring during his time at Channel 7. He broke a big story Aug. 5, 2015, when he was in the lower bowels of Comerica Park and saw then-Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski go into a room, and come out a short while later with his son, who was crying. Dombrowski had been fired. He was at "Trouble with the Snap," which he calls "the most insane moment of my professional career."

He's covered a variety of major sports on the Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons, Lions and Michigan and Michigan State football and basketball.

But one story that sticks out is his feature from 2015 on Novi football team manager Robby Heil, who has Down Syndrome. As a senior, he was put into the game and scored a touchdown with mother, Debbie, who was battling terminal bone cancer, watching from the stands. Rose still keeps in touch with Heil. They text. They FaceTime. They plan to go to a Tigers game this summer.

"That story registers with me," Rose said. "What an opportunity to learn personally about somebody else."

Rose graduated from St. Clair High in 2003 and Michigan State in 2007, and is a four-time Emmy winner — three for reporting and one for anchoring.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984