Detroit Radio Personality Cliff Russell Dies at 61
February 19th, 2018, 11:13 AM
Cliff Russell, a former WWJ radio reporter who went on to host radio shows on different Detroit stations over the years, died Sunday of a heart attack, the Detroit News reports. He was 61.
Russell who was hosting a radio show on 910 AM Superstation, was known as a smart and warm guy with keen insights into the city.
In 1994, Mayor Dennis Archer appointed him his press secretary.
The radio station issued a statement:
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of 910AM Superstation host, Cliff Russell. We are profoundly heartbroken at his unexpected passing. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and the community that he loved so much.
Greg Russell, Cliff's brother, told James David Dickson of the Detroit News that he was "always a happy guy, no matter what was going on."
"This caught everybody by surprise," Greg said. "He'd had several heart attacks before, but always pulled through."
In September 2016, he posted this on Facebook:
I am currently in the hospital and I will be here for the next several days. After going to the emergency room last night, I learned that there is a blockage in my heart, and I will most likely be undergoing a cardiac catheterization in the next few days.
I decided to post this news on Facebook (along with this very unflattering photo) because I am hoping to persuade people, black men in particular, to take much better care of ourselves.
This latest health challenge is the direct result of my less-than-healthy eating habits. Even though I have had heart attacks before, I still was eating way too much junk food. I should know better, and I have no excuse. If the good Lord allows me to come through this ordeal, I am committing myself to practicing and promoting a healthy lifestyle. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers. Thank you.
His social media announcement last Saturday draws nearly 500 comments in 12 hours, many "praying for your speedy recovery," as Terri Goens-Smith posts .
WWJ reporter Roberta Jasina tweeted:
I am so sad about the death of former WWJ newsman Cliff Russell. Medical Emergency in Chicago. He was smart and funny. I loved him. I loved our long talks about Detroit. I even loved our arguments. So sad.— Roberta Jasina (@Robertanews) February 19, 2018
So sad to hear of the passing of Cliff Russell - an absolute gentleman, sharp as a tack and always unfailingly kind. Just a joy to be around— Devin Scillian (@DevinScillian) February 19, 2018
I’m saddened to hear about the passing of my friend, Cliff Russell. From covering our city as a reporter with WWJ to serving our city as its spokesman under Mayor Archer to his most recent tour as a local talk radio host, Cliff left his mark on our community, and will be missed.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) February 19, 2018
RIP to former WWJ reporter and anchor Cliff Russell. He was Detroit’s first African-American Press Secretary to the Mayor (Dennis Archer.) His death followed a medical emergency in Chicago. @WWJ950— Sandra McNeill (@SandMcNeill) February 19, 2018
RIP Cliff Russell. A beautiful human being.— Nolan Finley (@NolanFinleyDN) February 19, 2018