Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WVTF Expands to NRV Bureau, Hires Top Reporter

When I went by the WVTF studio recently to record one of those periodic essays I write for the Public Radio station in Roanoke, news director Connie Stevens excitedly told me about some significant changes that were coming, including the addition of a "big time" reporter.

Today, the station announced those changes and they are, indeed, major. Here's the press release:

WVTF Public Radio and RADIO IQ has opened a New River Valley news bureau and veteran journalist Robbie Harris has been hired as New River Valley bureau chief. Harris is the former news director of WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and WHYY Public Radio in Philadelphia where she led award-winning news teams and creative projects.

She has also worked in public and commercial television, as well as print journalism. In 2004, she co-founded Lucid Dream Productions where she worked as writer, editor, producer, and communications consultant.

Harris has won numerous Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists awards. Her work has also been the recipient of a Peabody Award and she won a Public Radio News Directors Incorporated award for best documentary for a six-hour radio re-creation of Dec. 7, 1941, called “A Pearl Harbor Remembrance.”

Harris says, “The station's mission and goals, its approach to covering the region and its commitment to excellence are what attract me here; specifically, its creation of a new bureau based in Blacksburg, which brings the station and listeners closer. Local coverage is vital to a region, not only to the people who live here, but also for people in other parts of the state and beyond. The new bureau is an opportunity to focus on, and highlight the New River Valley and the surrounding area. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of that effor.”

Harris graduated with a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

WVTF Public Radio and RADIO IQ's General Manager Glenn Gleixner says, “Public radio journalism is more important today than ever before. As other media outlets decrease the size and scope of their newsrooms, public radio has taken on the responsibility of filling the void left by these shrinking commitments. This is especially true for local, regional, and state reporting. Harris, an award winning and highly respected reporter, will add an important layer of information and knowledge for the station’s large and growing constituency.”

WVTF has a weekly audience of approximately 160,000 listeners and the signal covers more than 50 percent of Virginia’s land mass. The Blacksburg bureau chief will be the fifth full time news person, in addition to 10 part-time and stringer reporters.

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