The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - 86

I could see myself doing that for another
15 years. I wanted to switch while I was
still young."
The Roanoke school position was just
the fix. "I was extremely lucky," he says.
"I had covered education, so this was a
natural fit. I don't know if I would like
PR in, say, the medical field." Many of his
skills transferred directly and "I don't have
to knock on doors after a tragedy, but a lot
of what I used to do, I do now."
His decision was a good one, he says. "I
have yet to meet anybody who regretted
leaving journalism."
CONNIE STEVENS is probably bestremembered as news director at WVTFPublic Radio, but she was also a co-anchor
at WDBJ7. She was with the Juvenile
Diabetes Foundation and is now United
Way communications director. She left
journalism when she learned her daughter
had diabetes and "I felt responsible and
burned out. ... People thought I was crazy
to leave." She had helped direct WVTF to
a state public radio powerhouse.
She was "ready for something new"
and the new job energized her. "I was so
excited. I couldn't wait to get to work."
She looks at her job "as a beat: ... I feel
like I'm still reporting. Journalism is a
perfect job to set you up for other jobs. ...
My job is to get the jargon out, to relate
what we do in human terms."
She doesn't see "a mass exodus from
radio," she says. "A lot of young people
want to stay at the station. When I started
this was a market people flew in to, got a
good tape and flew out. When I came [to
Roanoke], I had a six month lease."
MIKE STEVENS was sports director at
WDBJ7 for 23 years, hired in 1985 with
exactly no experience, then joined the City
of Salem as its information director. He is
in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
He left TV, he says, because "station
management took a serious turn for the
worse and many of the core values that
made WDBJ the market leader on the
outside and a true family on the inside
were rapidly diminishing. Viewers couldn't
tell what was happening watching the
newscasts, but inside of the building,
the lives and careers of some ver y
good longtime employees were being
completely disrupted by people who had
no allegiance to the area."
86

JULY/AUGUST 2019

The Salem position, he says, has him
doing "a lot of the same things, but I no
longer wear make-up." His relationships
with Salem institutions and people
over the years "made me feel welcome
and afforded me enough time to get
acclimated. Because our office handles
all communications for the city and
the school division, including fire and
police, the pace is often just as hectic as
writing or producing content on broadcast
deadlines. So, in my case, government
work is not slow."
He still shoots video, takes photos,
writes stories daily and has "constant
contact with the public."
Leaving journalism, he says, was
difficult but "while some may not want
to openly admit it, most left WDBJ,
WSLS or the Roanoke Times for the
same reasons that I did. When you have
been trained to perform at a high level
each day and take pride in your work, it is

Communication and Marketing at the
Pamplin College of Business at Virginia
Tech. She was at Roanoke's smallest TV
news organization and notes that "there
are a lot of one-man bands out there."
The storytelling "is 110 percent of what
is attractive [to her] now," she says. "My
current job is the perfect fit. I am able to
incorporate a multitude of skills from my
past life. I use the same strategic approach
to data analytics, building an integrated
communication and marketing plan, and
utilizing storytelling skills to flesh out
research topics. The stories that come from
that process help build collaborations
between researchers, scholars, and help
build new corporate partnerships for
Virginia Tech ... Relationship building
is key to this job, as it was to being a
successful journalist."
It's all very simple: "I've always been
a person who has to love what I do. It
energizes me each day. I had that energy

" I T ' S A DA N G E RO U S T I M E T O B E A J O U R N A L I S T.
... T h ro u g h o u t t h e c o u n t r y re p o r t e r s a re re q u i re d t o d o
m o re a n d m o re w i t h l e s s a n d l e s s re s o u rc e s . T h a t ' s s a d
t o me. I t af f ect s t he repo r t er, t he q u al i t y o f t he st o r y s h e
is t elling and i n t u r n, t he f o l ks at ho me."
-SUSA N BAHORIC H
tough to compromise. I see TV reporters as a journalist, and I've been lucky to find
ever y day who are running around that same excitement in my new career at
producing content to simply fill a time Virginia Tech."
slot. When they leave the newsroom, it
ERIN BROOKSHIER was a WSLS
seems as though no one is asking them reporter/anchor and is now a teacher at
to investigate this or that, but rather to Northside and Glenvar High Schools. TV
get three stories and fill a certain amount news, she says, "was what I always wanted
of time or space. ... I think the demands to do. It was a dream job and I enjoyed my
to produce more and more content for time there." But, she got married "and I
social media and websites, before the was ready for a more stable life." Low pay
paper comes out or the newscast begins, "played a role, as well."
has been a real factor."
Would she go back, given the opportunity?
Ultimately, "I have come to realize that "I love teaching so much," she says, "that I
it was just time for a change, and I am at don't think I'd ever go back."
peace with it."
SUSAN BAHORICH was an immensely
BECKY FREEMAL was a decorated
popular WDBJ7 reporter/anchor for 10
news anchor at WFXR in Roanoke for years, but left for a station in Richmond,
nine years and in journalism 24 years. then a job at S entara Medical in
As of June, she is the new Director of Woodbridge in communications. Her
TheRoanoker.com


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The Roanoker - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - July/August 2019

The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover2
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - V1
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The Roanoker - July/August 2019 - Cover3
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