Meet the Media: Jeff Gilbert, Auto Reporter at WWJ Newsradio 950


J. Gilbert PhotoWhat’s the top story you’re working on right now?
The fun thing (and the challenging thing) about being in radio is the top story at 1 PM can become totally unimportant at 1:15, when something else breaks.

We’re in one of those times when there’s not a big overriding auto story (GM/Toyota Recalls, GM/Chrysler Bailout) that dominates the auto news cycle. There are a couple of things to watch closely this year. 1.) When will car sales cool off? Can we set a new record? 2.) What’s happening with active safety technology? Will it be connectivity, crash prevention, or full autonomy–or will we see a combination. What are the unintended consequences that will crop up. 3.) Fuel economy–what will happen during the 2018 review? Will this year’s presidential choice have an impact?

Tell us about your dream assignment.
I’ve had nightmares about many assignments. I’m too old and have covered too many stories to have dream assignments. Being assigned to cover the most exciting industry in the world is the culmination of a dream.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you’ve written.
There are no crazy or fun stories. Just crazy and fun people, and I’ve met a lot of them. I hate questions that involve superlatives…and cringe when people ask me “What’s your favorite car?” That’s not the way I think.

What is your top pet peeve with PR people?
When they ask me about favorites. Seriously, honesty is issue number one. Nothing will derail my relationship with a PR person as fast as when I feel like I’ve been lied to. I understand your job is to present your client in the best light. But, it must also be an honest light.

Also, please don’t ask me for copies of a story. That’s why God gave us monitoring services

Try to understand the different needs of broadcasting. We are a time based medium. If you put your name as a contact on a press release, understand we need the information, and maybe even an interview NOW. By, tomorrow, it could possibly be old news.J. Gilbert Photo 2

And, try to have a sense of humor.
I know you asked for my “top pet peeve.” But, remember, I don’t deal in superlatives. And just because I listed several pet peeves, I also know a lot of PR people who are true professionals, that have earned my respect.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, favorites, background, etc.)
I’m a Pittsburgh native, but have lived in metro Detroit far longer than anywhere else. I moved here temporarily 30 years ago this month. My wife moved here temporarily a few years earlier. We married, settled down here, and our son, Christopher is the only born-in-Michigan family member. My wife, Dr. Cheryl Kovalski is an Oncologist-Hematologist at McLaren Medical Center in Lansing. My son, Christopher Gilbert, is in pre-med at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. That makes me the slacker of the family.

We love travel and sports–especially baseball. We’ve done a lot of cruises, and make at least one Disney trip a year. We are very involved in our church.

I’m a 1977 graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Speech/Communications, with a Journalism Focus. Nobody’s ever asked to see my diploma. I worked in Erie, PA, Pittsburgh and Fresno, CA, before coming to Detroit in 1986 to be News Director of the country stations in town (WWWW, 106.7 FM and WCXI, 1130 AM) and came to WWJ in 1990.

Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to know that I:
Have never been offered a leading man role in a major motion picture.
Seriously, my life and career are pretty much an open book. I’ve covered autos exclusively, but before that I covered a lot of non auto stories…and some that are pretty big…including driving all three sites of the 9/11 attacks…covering two political conventions, two presidential inaugurations and most of the Jack Kevorkian trials.
I started my career in 1974, wanting to be a sportscaster, but found it was a lot more fun to just watch the games. My first job in broadcasting was as a country disc jockey in Erie, PA. I was fired for telling too many jokes on the air.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jefferygilbert.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm by Scott Hanson

    That’s how I wanted to start my career, too: “wanting to be a sportscaster.” Congrats on your success!

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