SOUTHFIELD — After decades as a household fixture in local news media, FOX 2 Detroit anchor Huel Perkins, along with his longtime co-host, Monica Gayle, will be retiring from the station this Friday.
News of the retirement came from the anchors themselves last month, in an emotional and heartfelt announcement that provoked local media personalities to chime in on the hosts’ lasting impact on local news.
“Before we go, some breaking personal news tonight. After 40-plus years in broadcasting and 32 years here at FOX 2, I’ve decided to retire at the end of March,” Perkins said during a broadcast in late February, thanking his co-host, Gayle. “I’ve had a wonderful career, and I thank you, our viewers, for your love and support.”
Together, the anchors were known for being at the head of breaking news stories on the widely seen channel, covering the “biggest news stories of the past 25 years, including six presidential elections, the 2008 recession, the COVID-19 pandemic and so many other stories in between,” FOX 2 said in a press release.
But FOX 2 Detroit also pointed out that Perkins, winner of multiple Emmy Awards, distinguished himself as moderator of the popular “Let It Rip” discussion forum, inviting officials, experts and the community members to discuss matters involving Metro Detroit and more.
Huel Perkins has been a legend in our local media world. Always fair, always impartial, Perkins cares about the truth and he’s been a friend to me and to our community. — Osama Siblani, The Arab American News publisher
Over the years, one such frequent guest was The Arab American News Publisher Osama Siblani, whom Perkins calls a close friend and whom Perkins would situate on panels with other voices to have in depth and candid discussions about issues centering around Arab Americans.
In fact, those discussions enriched the channel’s hard news coverage of the local Arab American community or brought in angles that would be missing in coverage in other media.
“Huel Perkins has been a legend in our local media world,” Siblani said. “Always fair, always impartial, Perkins cares about the truth and he’s been a friend to our community. We wish him good luck on his retirement, though we will miss his wisdom at this crucial and difficult time of media challenges ”
As a frequent guest on “Let It Rip”, Siblani said he experienced Perkins’ fairness and impartiality first hand.
The Arab American community, with its large concentration in Dearborn, Detroit and surrounding areas, often came under focus by local, national and international media following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which brought about conversations on civil rights, American foreign policy, immigration and more in its wake.
The history of Arab Americans is also the history of America. As Americans, we must live up to our creed, which is that all men are created equal, and we all have a right to be proud of our heritage and express freely our views. — Huel Perkins, FOX 2 News anchor
Reflecting on decades of coverage, Perkins told The Arab American News that it’s important to pierce through the rhetoric around ethnic and immigrant communities and pay attention instead to what people have in common.
“I credit people like Osama, who bravely opposed the terrorism of Al Qaida and the Taliban, but he also warned us all that we should never label every Arab and every Muslim as an enemy of freedom, or as an enemy of this country. The history of Arab Americans is also the history of America. As Americans, we must live up to our creed, which is that all men are created equal, and we all have a right to be proud of our heritage and express freely our views.”
Perkins said having someone like Siblani as a frequent guest on his show has educated and enlightened his audience about what it means to be an Arab and Muslim in America.
“It’s important for people to realize that we share so much more as human beings, as Americans, than we are different,” Perkins said. “We are much more alike than we are different and it’s important to understand that. I would hope that over the years, I have been able to show that to our viewers.”
Perkins first came to WJBK in 1989 when the station was a CBS affiliate known as TV-2. In his 33 years in Detroit, Perkins traveled the country with Nelson Mandela, followed the Pope and covered nearly every major political convention, FOX 2 said.
Perkins originally intended to be an attorney before catching the broadcasting bug.
FOX 2 General Manager Greg Easterly said that Perkins’ and Gayle’s 25 year co-anchor career helped shape and mold WJBK/FOX 2 “into the news leader it is today.”
Deadline Detroit reported this week that Perkins told station managers he recommends FOX 2’s 5 p.m. anchor Roop Raj should be his successor.