Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Harlan, Carmen

A born-and-raised Detroiter, veteran broadcaster Carmen Harlan hails from northwest Detroit. Before Harlan began reporting the news, she experienced it. With her parents, Harlan – then in the second grade – marched down Woodward Avenue in 1963 behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After graduating from Mumford High School, Harlan attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech. Additionally, she studied radio and television. Her first foray into broadcast journalism was as a broadcaster for WWWW-FM in Ann Arbor.  

In 1978, three years after graduating from the University of Michigan, Harlan joined Detroit’s WDIV-TV – Channel 4. She started at WDIV as a general assignment reporter, then made the leap to anchor in 1981 when she was paired with seasoned broadcaster Mort Crim on the evening news. At the time, Harlan was one of few Black anchors in the market. For the next 35 years, she was a welcome presence in Detroit homes. During her tenure, Harlan covered the visits of Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II, and the trial of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. She retired from WDIV in 2016 after keeping Detroiters informed for 38 years.  

Harlan’s work won her respect and accolades. As part of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Harlan represented Detroit as a torch bearer. Her contributions to journalism earned her an Emmy Award. Harlan is also a recipient of the Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award from late Judge Damon J. Keith at the 2016 Soul Food Luncheon. In 2017, Harlan served as co-Grand Marshal of America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with fellow Detroiter, Big Sean. Additionally, she is the voice of Detroit’s light rail line, the QLine.  



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