Friday, December 02, 2022

A Retirement

My friend's husband retires today.

Many people retire and go quietly into the night, but my friend's husband is a local celebrity. He was voted Roanoke's Sexiest Man in The Roanoker magazine for umpteen years way back in the early days of his career.

He was the weatherman for WDBJ7 up until five years ago, when he moved over to anchoring the 6 p.m. news.

His mustached face was on billboards all over the city for many years. Everyone knew Robin Reed. One might even say he has been the face of WDBJ7 for the last 40 years.

He has a calming, soothing presence on screen (and off), and he's always ready to help. He educated as he gave out the forecast, talking about various cloud formations and what they meant, or why this clipper system was coming down out of Canada to dump snow on us.

I remember watching him on November 5, 1985, when Roanoke suffered the worst flooding of its history. What I didn't know at the time - what no casual viewer knew at the time - was that his wife and small child were being evacuated as their home flooded, while he was busy alerting the rest of the area to the hazards befalling multitudes as 11 inches of rain dumped itself on us.

My husband and I tuned in nightly to watch the weather - to watch Robin Reed. My husband cursed him sometimes when the forecast was off - being a farmer means one needs to know for certain if it will rain - but my man was not actually cursing the weather guy, just the forecast.

Our favorite missed forecast was the "dusting" of 1993, I think it was, when instead of the predicted light March snow we had about 28 inches of the white stuff and no electricity for 10 days. It's so well-remembered that on last night's broadcast, the current head of the weather department teased him about it.

Little did I know that one day I would become friends with his wife, and that we would spend countless hours on the phone. The fact that I was a lower-level colleague of sorts helped. I understood the issues that come with journalism and with being in the public eye. Fortunately for me, hiding behind a byline in a newspaper does not make one a celebrity. I may have been in 20,000 people's homes at various times, but I wasn't on their television set. People might know my name, but they didn't know my face.

Still, I know the pressure wanting to get the story right, of trying to tell the truth in the face of falsehoods, of hoping not to mess it up too badly.

He and his wife, Teresa, are lovely people. When my husband caught his hand in the hay baler in 2014, it was Teresa who held me up, sat with me through one of the surgeries, and made sure I ate something while I was fretting over my guy. She is my closest friend, and while I honestly don't know her husband as well because he's always been at work, I know he's a gentleman, a very nice fellow, and I consider him a friend.

He couldn't have done what he did without his wife's superior and unyielding support. All good men know that no one does it alone.

I will miss his soothing presence on the TV screen, and his calm voice alerting us to dangers, seen and unseen. The TV station has, rightfully so, made a big deal of his retirement, showing excerpts from old shows, interviews with colleagues who worked closely with him, even interviews with his family and how it was for his two boys to grow up with a locally famous dad. Some of the interviews have brought me to tears.

They have been retrospectives but also hopeful. It gives me hope to see that the younger journalists are honoring this older fellow who is walking out of their lives, but on his own terms and with, I feel sure, an invitation to call him anytime they need to talk. The younger generation has done a good job of ensuring that we, the viewing public, understand that not only does Mr. Reed deserve to be honored for his longevity in the business, but also for his legacy. For he leaves, obviously, a long trail of love and devotion, and it has been heartwarming to see these moving tributes to this man.

Tonight, he will light the city's Christmas tree, and leave from there for home. It will be his last time on TV for WDBJ7 as a regular newsperson, but not his last work. He is also a professor at Virginia Tech, and he will continue to teach the next generation of journalists and newscasters. He will show them caring and love.

I can't think of a better way to go out of a job, and I can't think of a better second act. How honored I am to know this man, and how grateful I am for the friendship he and his wife have shown to my husband and me.

You can read a bit more about Mr. Reed and hear a podcast on his final thoughts about his career at this link. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing man. How wonderful that you are friends.


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