Alumni Spotlight with Al Allen—Mumford High School

November 19, 2021

It’s no wonder Mumford alumnus Al Allen was recently inducted into the 2021 Class of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. When I caught up with the legendary former FOX 2 reporter, he was beaming with pride as the announcement of his impending induction just was made. I asked him how it all started.  Mr. Allen recalled that at a young age he loved to write and was nosey. He moved to Detroit from Little Rock, Arkansas and attended DPS’ Durfee Junior High for one year, then matriculated at Mumford High School.  He recalls his 11th grade English teacher, Mary Coleman.  “She was so nice, pretty and young, he said.  I had a crush.”  He got all A’s as he loved to write.  He also stayed in trouble asking adults questions which was prohibited during those times. After graduation, he attended Arkansas A & M, now part of the University of Arkansas.  He majored in Journalism and Communications so that he could “ask questions, not get into trouble, and get paid for it”, he laughed. After graduation he worked at KOKY, a Black radio station in Little Rock, married his high school sweetheart and moved back to Detroit. He said, “In radio you did everything, you sold time, mopped floors and were on the air”.  He learned a lot.

Back in Detroit, his first job was at WGPR, Detroit’s Black-owned media station where many up-and-coming locals were cutting their teeth.  Allen did the news in the afternoons.  He worked with Doris Biscoe, who was doing continuity and traffic before going on to Channel 7 as an anchor.

Allen later became the news director at WJLB for 15 years. “Black folks could sing and dance, but they also needed to be informed”, he said.  He was on air in the morning, later winning the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.  “We were doing more stories on WJLB than at WWJ at the time”, he proudly recalled.  He got a call from FOX 2’s news director, who had been listening to his work on WJLB.  He offered him the assignment desk job, but Allen said I have 15 years of writing experience, but no on-air experience.  He was hired as a reporter and later an anchor.  Al Allen retired from FOX 2 in 2012 after 28 years, has received numerous local and national accolades and is recognized by his peers for his many contributions made to the industry.  Allen and his wife have one son and two grandsons in Seattle.

Al Allen is DPS Proud!

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