CKLW Legend Grant Hudson (1944-2020)
Grant Hudson, legendary CKLW 20/20 newsman whose snarly delivery and vivid writing helped immortalize the station's news department, died on December 16, 2020 at the age of 76. News of his death didn't become public until it was announced on Facebook on January 06, 2021.
Hudson, born James Raymond Reese III, started his radio career at the age of 15. The name "Grant Hudson" was born in 1971 when he joined CKLW. Since there was a newsman on a rival radio station named James Reese, news director Byron MacGregor suggested using the name Hudson, and left it up to Reese to come up with a first name. Moments before his first newscast, Reese hadn't come up with a name. As he entered the studio, just seconds before going on the air, MacGregor yelled out "Try Brent!" Reese misheard it as Grant, and the rest is history.
Hudson's blood and guts style reporting provided some of the most memorable and outrageous news stories of all time. His most famous story is perhaps the "Louisville Slugger" story.
"This is Grant Hudson, CKLW 20/20 News. The hitless Tigers could use this guy's talents. Mount Clemens police have a 36 year old man in custody. Seems he got home at about 5 o'clock this morning from an all night spree... that ticked off the little lady who unleashed a verbal barrage at the man... that apparently the last straw for him. He picked up his Genuine Willie Mayes Powerized Lightning Strike Louisville Slugger baseball bat, proceeded to hit a thousand on the woman's head... she's dead. Even turned on the children, they're in serious condition."
In a 2013 interview with Joe Madigan, Hudson stated his disbelief that the news piece, that only aired once, became so memorable. He said that he got the idea for the story from fellow newsman Joe Donovan. As they were talking about the story in the news room, Hudson said, "I hear Joe mumbling back at the sports desk these insane lines about picking up a handy dandy Lightning Strike Louisville Slugger, and I just stole it from him."
Hudson was the first on CKLW to read the now-famous Gordon Sinclair editorial called "The Americans." The piece, which first aired on "Canada Now" on CKLW-FM and later that day on CKLW-AM, resulted in a near meltdown of the station's telephone switchboard. Listeners continued to request a replay of the editorial throughout the day.
This prompted a visit by Westbound Records, who wanted to release the editorial as a single. Hudson was asked to read it for the record, but declined stating that a Canadian editorial should be read by a Canadian, not an American. He suggested that MacGregor should do the reading. "The Americans" sold over 3 million copies and resulted in royalties in the six figures, all of which were donated to The American Red Cross.
After CKLW, Hudson joined WWJ, a CBS radio affiliate in Detroit, where he remained until 1990 before retiring the name "Grant Hudson," and headed south to work at a station in Virginia. He ultimately settled in Florida where he lived in retirement.
Listen to Joe Madigan's entire 2013 interview with Grant Hudson here. (Starts at 19:04)