Today, we introduce our features staff (responsible for putting out the Extra section and maintaining five Roanoke Times blogs), and share some information (our favorite stories, our Twitter accounts) that you might not know.
And, with a nod to AMC’s “Mad Men,” we hope you enjoy this photo illustration shot by our photographer Sam Dean. Yes, our newsroom really looks like this; no we don’t dress like this every day.
Today’s question for readers: What would you like to see from the features section in the website redesign? Here’s how the current page looks.
Mike Allen (seated at typewriter): I cover arts and culture, which in our region encompasses a broad spectrum — theater, visual arts, literary arts, opera, dance, film, classical music, museums and a number of eclectic, not-easily-classifiable things.One day I might be profiling an Oscar-nominated Hollywood producer, the next sitting in on an opera rehearsal, the next wearing a hard hat to report on multimillion dollar renovations at an arts venue. In addition to print stories, I keep an “Arts & Extras” blog (blogs.roanoke.com/arts), a Twitter account (follow @artsnextras), and a brand new Facebook page at (www.facebook.com/Arts.Extras). “Likes” appreciated.
Ralph Berrier Jr. (back center, hat in hand): I am a general assignment reporter who writes a bi-weekly parenting column called “The Dadline.” I also cover local media, families and random topics such as the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mill Mountain Zoo and local history. I enjoy writing about Southwest Virginia culture, as evidenced by this 2004 feature story on the wave.
Tad Dickens (back, wearing fedora): I’m a musician by blood who gave up the road life to get into journalism. Smart move, haha! I came here with no intention of writing a word about music, but after covering Bedford County for a year, the Roanoke Courthouse for four years and being an online editor for a couple more, I heard the call of the wild. And I love it. See my coverage of Southwest Virginia’s music scene at music.roanoke.com, the “Cut ‘n Scratch” blog (blogs.roanoke.com/cutnscratch), via Facebook (facebook.com/tad.dickens) and Twitter (follow @cutnscratch).
Rebecca Holland (standing, striped dress): I’m the in-house calendar guru, editing and organizing the events submitted by readers and local businesses. I also write the “Shoptimist” column and blog (blogs.roanoke.com/shoptimist), where I post local and national bargains, retail news and tips for saving money. What girl wouldn’t love an excuse to shop on the clock?
Connect with me by submitting your events to our revamped calendar.roanoke.com, or by leaving a comment on the blog. Some of the most popular items lately have included the changes at JC Penney and Food Lion, while local warehouse sales are gaining popularity as well. You can read about the Elizabeth Arden and J. Crew warehouses here.
Kathy Lu (seated, with red pen): Yes, I am the features editor, so I do have to wield a red pen at least a few hours a day. But I consider myself responsible for more than clean copy — I manage a team of dedicated reporters whose goal is to bring Southwest Virginia the best, most comprehensive and most entertaining stories about our community.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a reporter more in tune with the local music scene than Tad; someone who dishes out more food coverage than Lindsey; someone who’s as creative and “shoptimistic” about saving money as Rebecca; a reporter whose SWVA roots are deeper than Ralph’s; someone who’s as fascinated and bemused by the local arts scene as Mike; and someone who’s as pet-friendly as Nona. I feel fortunate to lead this “Mad” team. Follow me on Twitter (@kathyluwho).
Lindsey Nair (left, with reporter’s notebook): I write a weekly food column, “Front Burner,” and a weekday food blog, “Fridge Magnet,” as well as food-related and general feature stories. I also maintain our recipe database on plateup.roanoke.com and manage the freelancers who write our restaurant reviews, which alternate weekly in Extra and The Burgs (New River). If you have food-related story ideas or know of restaurants we have not reviewed, please contact me at 981-3343.
Access my column archive at here and join the conversations on my blog. You can also follow me on Twitter (@lindseynair). Did you know our recipe archive (roanoke.com/food/recipes) contains recipes from readers and ones that we’ve published in the paper?
And to see the kind of writing I like to do when I’m not writing about food, read this story about the intimate letters between Nannie Godwin and Charles Figgat of Fincastle.
Nona Nelson (right, with book): Besides being the newsroom’s office manager, I write “The Happy Wag,” (blogs.roanoke.com/thehappywag) a column and blog about pets, edit the Sunday Books page and write book reviews (here’s one) and I write community theater reviews. In my spare time, I watch too many “Housewives” shows on Bravo.