Robin Reed Journalism Scholarship builds bright future for journalists’ dreams
November 9, 2023
After 40 years at the same news station, retirement holds a bit more significance for Robin Reed.
Reed has been a familiar on-air presence in living rooms across Roanoke and surrounding areas since 1982, serving as WDBJ-7’s chief meteorologist and a lead news anchor.
What would be an appropriate retirement gift for a local industry celebrity like Reed? This was the question that WDBJ-7 grappled with as Reed's retirement from the broadcast station in December 2022 drew near.
“He has impacted a lot of people’s lives throughout the years as the No. 1 weather person in the market for many, many years,” said Matt Pumo, general manager and vice president of WDBJ-7. “We wanted to do something that would be a little bit different and mean something to him as well besides the usual retirement gifts or gag gifts.”
This gift took the form of the Robin Reed Journalism Scholarship. Reed, a professor of practice, joined the School of Communication in the spring of 2018. He has been sharing tricks of the trade he acquired during his four-decade broadcasting career with journalism students, a practice he’s continued even after retiring from WDBJ-7.
“It was actually my wife Teresa who said, ‘Virginia Tech means a lot to him and it will be his life moving forward,’” Reed said. “‘Is there anything we can do to help Virginia Tech School of Communication?’ That’s where the idea for the scholarship was born.”
Funded by both Reed and WDBJ-7, the Robin Reed Journalism Scholarship offers an annual, no-strings-attached $1,000 award to one multimedia journalism student. The inaugural scholarship recipient will be announced this spring.
“We’re not asking for an essay. We’re interested in hearing how the scholarship funds would be put to use,” Reed said. “If they needed new computer software, if they needed a new computer or they wanted to attend a world-renowned conference, if we made the scholarship $1,000, that would make a pretty good dent in doing something like that.”
Reed's passion lies in guiding journalism students towards industry opportunities during their undergraduate journeys. He emphasized the crucial role of securing internships at local broadcast stations before students step into the professional world post-graduation.
“Having the relationship with WDBJ and other broadcasters throughout the country and even the world, that’s important,” Reed said. “We feel like our students are winning when they get these internships. To have this relationship with channel 7 continuing and the scholarship reminding them every year that this is available, I think it all comes together in a meaningful way.”
Pumo echoed a similar sentiment, acknowledging the importance of fostering young talent in the industry.
“You never want to stifle creativity and creative minds,” Pumo said. “This is a great opportunity for us to stay in the game and help develop new talent.”
“The more opportunities we can introduce what a great industry this is to new potential journalists, that is a win not only for us, but for the industry as well,” he added. “We always want to promote local broadcasting and local broadcasters.”
Reed expressed his humility in contributing to the lasting impact of the scholarship. He envisions the scholarship's growth in the years ahead through further donations to the fund. For now, Reed can take solace in the knowledge that his influence on the journalism industry endures far beyond his broadcasting career.
“No one deserves it more than Robin,” Pumo said. “Not only here locally, but in our business. That is a mighty impressive record he has for longevity and meaningful impact on so many people across our hometowns and across the 26 counties we serve in this market. It was a no-brainer.”
Applications are currently open for multimedia journalism students, and the deadline for submissions is Jan. 22. Apply now to be considered for the Robin Reed Journalism Scholarship.
Cory Van Dyke