Investigative reporter Scott Lewis was WJBK's original Problem Solver

WJBK is celebrating our 75th anniversary as a station. Over the years - many reporters have come and gone - but one helped change the game with the FOX 2 Problem Solvers.

Scott Lewis was an old-school, tough-guy investigative reporter. What people didn't know was that he was also wickedly funny, clever and cool. But Detroit soon found that out.  

When the Problem Solvers unit was formed, the tough guy loosened up his style -- and became a legend.  

Rob Wolchek: "What do you think when you come in here?  How does it feel?"

"It feels like home, it really does," says Scott Lewis.

And we're glad you're home, Scott Lewis - after all, your investigative stories were part of our homes, at least on TV sets for more than 20 years.  

Scott Lewis' investigations were unlike anything anyone had seen anywhere.

Already established as a top-notch reporter in the late 90s, the formation of the FOX 2 Problem Solvers unit was what took Scott to a whole other level.

The first big hit was the pothole patchers.

"We went out on a Monday morning, we had a producer, three photographers, myself, we had body cameras," he said.

It may not look like much now, but this was groundbreaking - following crews of taxpayer-paid city workers from the moment they arrived in the morning, until they called it quits was something no one had done before. And what these guys did, or didn't do, during their shift - was eye-opening.

What they didn't do, was much pothole patching. What they did do, was stop for breakfast, booze, and bathroom breaks right on the street. Scott showed it all.

"It was so outrageous we just thought the presentation should be outrageous too," he said.

Lewis injected a lot of humor, popular music and a "can you believe this?" attitude to the story that had everyone talking.

The news story was such a big hit - it was news.

"The next day I got up and there was a story in the Free Press about my story," he said.

After that, Scott's 'busted-on-the-job' stories became appointment TV.

"Once we started doing these we realized this thing of loafing on the job was kind of epidemic in Detroit," he said. "And not only did these stories get a lot of attention and draw a lot of eyes to the tv, we fixed a lot of that."

And the motto of The Problem Solver unit, "We're not just going to tell you the news, we're going to show it to you" was not only popular, but effective.

"It was kind of like government by embarrassment," he said. "We just had fun you know, creating these stories - and we worked a lot of humor into our scripts. Those were the days, Rob.  Best time of my life."

Goofing on lazy workers was a unique style of storytelling - but Scott was still that serious journalist, always on the street, liked and trusted by everyone.  

"I got a tip, a call from a prostitute on the east side who said somebody was out there killing prostitutes," he said.

Scott began connecting what were thought to be random murders together.

"I called the guy from Detroit police who was in charge of homicide, and he goes, 'Serial killer? What serial killer? We haven't had any series of killings.'"

Eventually, the Mack Avenue Killer Task Force was formed.

"They ended up arresting a guy named Shelly Brooks," Scott said. "They charged him with six homicides, convicted him of four, and thought he killed at least a dozen women."

Scott left WJBK more than 10 years ago and started his own private investigation company. He is now working in semi-retirement from his Florida home.

Wolchek: "I've seen you on Netflix and some of these shows for your P.I. work, so you're still kind of a famous guy right?"

"Yeah. The only difference is I don't have to slap the make-up on," he said.

Wolchek: "Slap on the pancake."

"Yeah, slap on the cake as we used to say," he said.

Wolchek only sees his old partner from the Problem Solver unit once every couple of years, but they always click. Scott is a great friend and a mentor and taking him on a stroll around FOX 2, it's obvious he's not the only one who loves the guy.

And the feeling is mutual.

"The teamwork we had was really sensational," he said. "The photographers, the editors, they all made us look better.  We came in with a good story and they just made it way better."

For Scott Lewis, perhaps the best investigative reporter in the 75-year history of WJBK-TV, every time he was on the air - it was an event.

"I remember coming out to do my pieces live and you know, at 10 o'clock and the excitement and the nervousness. People think 'You don't look nervous on TV.' But you are, you know, you got the butterflies," he said. "Yeah, a lot of great memories. "

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