During his B&C Hall of Fame induction speech a few weeks ago, Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, made a point of sharing his fond memories of Jeff Murri, the former WJBK Detroit GM who took his own life last February, to the crowd at the Waldorf.
It was a bittersweet tribute to a unique individual, as is a lengthy profile about Murri in Detroit’s Hour Magazine. Writer Jim McFarlin digs deep to tell the story of Jeff, the Detroit-born son of a Cadillac executive, his rapid rise in local TV, and the gravitational pull that kept him working in, and working for, Detroit.
McFarlin speaks with a wide range of sources, including Jeff’s brother, WXYZ station manager Mike Murri; WDIV GM Marla Drutz; Dana Hahn, WJBK VP of news; and Sheila Bruce, WJBK GSM [I am quoted in the the story too]; to paint a picture of Murri’s life, and to ask the inevitable question of Why?
To the community he loved, to the friends and neighbors who loved him, the question still lingers like the aftermath of a migraine, leaving the kind of pain and confusion that disrupts the senses. Murri, this inspiring leader revered by his workers … this 50-year-old family man with the lovely wife and the great kids and the devoted parents … this Detroit broadcasting crusader at the pinnacle of his profession. How could this man maneuver his car through the tightly trimmed streets of Rochester Hills one icy Thursday morning, make the turn onto Old Perch Road, drive up the slight incline to the parking lot behind the Murri’s family parish, park beneath the shadow of the majestic cross atop the church and in view of the statue of St. Irenaeus, the martyr who helped lay the foundations for Christian theology - and take his own life?