Monica Gayle (’82 Comm.) vividly remembers when her agent told her FOX wanted her in Detroit. It was 1997, she was anchoring news for Seattle’s KSTW-TV, and she was too pregnant to travel. So, the general manager and news director of WJBK-TV flew out to interview her.
“We met for lunch, they brought baby gifts, and said, ‘What’s it gonna take to get you to come to Detroit?’” recalls Gayle, who—at that point—had never been to Michigan.
They ended up flying her husband, Dean Grevé (’81 Comm.)—the first full-time Butch T. Cougar mascot, to Detroit. He took footage on his camcorder while they showed him around. And, after watching the video, Gayle took the job.
Once she had the baby—a son, Tanner—she flew out to do a promotional shoot and meet her new team. “Monica is a brilliant journalist filled with compassion, kindness, and courage. I’ve been blessed to have her as a colleague and friend,” says Huel Perkins, Gayle’s coanchor of 25 of her 40 years in TV news.
To remain in the same market with the same coanchor for a quarter century is a rarity. “A coanchor relationship is very much like a marriage,” Gayle says. “We see more of each other than our spouses in any given workweek. To be able to have a coanchor who knows how to read you, certainly in a breaking news situation, there’s something extraordinary about that.”
Gayle and Perkins signed off for the final time March 25. When Perkins announced his retirement, Gayle followed suit. The decision, she says, just “felt right. It’s been an amazing career. I’ve done everything I wanted to do. After 40 years, I’m letting myself have the next few months to exhale. The goal is to decompress and decide what we want to do when we want to do it.”
Gayle arrived at WSU with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. That changed her sophomore year when she helped a communications student with a project, anchoring a newscast. “One of the professors, Glenn Johnson, asked if I was majoring in communications,” she recalls. “I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, maybe you should think about it.’ I started taking some classes and quickly realized I loved it.”
Grevé was a teaching assistant in one of her communications classes. They dated briefly, then rekindled the flame when they reunited 13 years later. Today, they’ve been married 28 years, have one son, and split their time between Michigan and Washington.
Gayle’s first broadcast job right out of college was at KULR-TV in Billings, Montana, and she rapidly rose through various Pacific Northwest markets. From 1992 to 1994, when she and Grevé were newlyweds, Gayle worked for CBS in New York City, coanchoring Up to the Minute and CBS Morning News.
She coanchored The Ten O’Clock News from 1995 to 1997 for KSTW in Seattle, moving there to start a family before Detroit lured her away. “I always felt good because we went back to our roots”—Gayle grew up in Wenatchee—“had our son in Seattle, and were closer to our parents. I look back on it and don’t regret leaving the network. It’s a tough life.”
Throughout her career, Gayle has covered many history-making events, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the O.J. Simpson trial, 9/11, and the war in Bosnia. A highlight was covering the 1992 election with Dan Rather.
“I recently came across a handwritten note from him, congratulating me on a great start on Up to the Minute in conjunction with the convention coverage,” Gayle says. “I was touched by that. People mistakenly think these stars in the business don’t have time for things like that, but he took the time and recognized the fact it was a big deal for me to be there.”
The note, she says, is “sitting on my desk right now.”
Reflecting on her career, several months into retirement, she says, “Hopefully, I was a calm, reassuring voice for viewers, even when the news wasn’t good. I hope they remember me as a genuine journalist, as someone who spoke from the heart, who was empathetic, could cut through the noise, and was someone they considered a friend because they let me into their living room every night.”