Legendary Detroit broadcaster Frank Beckmann dies at the age of 72

Frank Beckman
Posted at 11:42 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-13 15:43:15-05

(WXYZ) — Metro Detroit broadcasting legend Frank Beckmann has died at the age of 72.

During his legendary career, Beckmann served as the voice of University of Michigan football and basketball. He served as the morning sports anchor on Newstalk 760 WJR before hosting his own talk show on the station for almost 18 years.

The Detroit News was the first to report his death, citing his wife, Karen. He is survived by his wife, Karen, and two children, Jon and Tori.

The family revealed Friday to the Detroit News that Beckmann had been placed in hospice care after being diagnosed with vascular dementia in June 2021 and suffering a severe stroke in October that left him hospitalized for more than a month.

Beckmann retired in March of 2021 after almost 50 years at the station. He had been a fixture there since 1972.

He succeeded Bob Ufer as the voice of Michigan football in 1981 when Ufer became too ill to continue broadcasting the games. Ufer would die of cancer on October 26, 1981, before the season ended. Ufer and Beckmann were the only two radio voices for Wolverine Football for 65 years.

Beckmann’s time in the booth included the Wolverines' last national championship in 1997.

Beckmann stepped back from the mic calling Michigan games after the 2013 season. He was succeeded by Jim Brandstatter. During his time as the voice of Michigan, he also provided play-by-play for the basketball team, before stepping away from that sport when his duties at WJR expanded.

For his work behind the mic, Beckmann received many honors, including being awarded the NFF Chris Schenkel Award from the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

However, Beckmann’s career stretched beyond sports. Born in Germany, he grew up on the east side of Detroit, before moving to Warren where he attended Cousino High School because it had a radio station. He began his career as a one-man news staff in Alpena before moving to WPON in Pontiac.

That was followed by stints at WKNR-AM in Dearborn and WDRQ-FM in Detroit, before joining the WJR news staff in Detroit, where he covered the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, among other stories in his three years as a reporter. He was eventually named as the main substitute for legendary WJR morning host J.P. McCarthy.

Beckmann then transferred to the sports department, eventually serving as Sports Director. Among his accomplishments at the station was starting the Sportswrap talk show in 1981. It would run for 20 years.

During his time on the air, he also broadcast Detroit Lions from 1979 to 1988 and the Detroit Tigers from 1995 to 2003.

Beckmann was serving as the radio voice for the Tigers when Ernie Harwell was brought back. The two then swapped jobs, with Harwell taking over on the radio and Beckmann replacing Harwell on TV.

Beckman also wrote columns for the Detroit News for ten years. He also helped raise tens of millions of dollars for local charities such as the Autism Alliance of Michigan, the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund and Dutton Farm.