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Mike Ashley: An Alumnus Who Bleeds Plaid
By Breann Pendleton
Alumnus Mike Ashley physically left Radford University in the year 1983 but his heart has remained here all along. You can actually hear his passion for journalism when just listening to him talk.
Ashley’s career in journalism began in high school with his school basketball team.
“My high school basketball team in Salem didn’t do too well, but the coach Joe Davis liked the way I handled the reporting for the games,” Ashley says.
This same coach would be the one to make Ashley the first ever “recruited” sports writer for Radford University. Ashley spent a year in community college then was contacted by his old high school basketball coach. Davis went on to coach for Radford’s basketball team for two years before Ashley decided to attend Radford University.
It was Davis who knew the skills and talent Ashley possessed, which led him to pursuing Ashley as a sports writer for Radford. Ashley was then introduced to Rick Rogers, the sports information director from 1967-1995.
Ashley says Rogers was a huge inspiration to him and someone he looked up to that kept him on the straight and narrow.
“I can’t mention Rick without thanking Debbie Brown as well,” Ashley says. “Her and Rick saw my talent and gave me a lot of latitude, I have those two to thank.”
Rogers made no mistake recruiting Ashley for the journalism team here at Radford. The Tartan won seven national awards the first year he was there, and Ashley won some personally as well over the years.
Even though he had a lot of help from the great staff we have here at Radford, Ashley hustled his way into publications nearby other than The Tartan.
“I knew the times that the local television news stations would show up to sports events and would tell them about star athletes and offer to get interviews from them for their segments,” Ashley says.
He also wrote features on local athletes and would submit them to the Roanoke Times.
“I made sure I got my work out there, because this business is all about experience and what you’ve done over the years while studying journalism,” he says.
For a journalist so serious about his craft and the importance of gaining experience, you wouldn’t guess that he had a five-year stint in stand-up comedy.
“I kind of wanted to always be the funny guy in the room,” Ashley says. “If it weren’t for working in the public relations office, I probably wouldn’t know how to be so professional.”
Even after years of parting ways with Radford University, Ashley still finds a home here.
Ashley serves on the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Advisory board. He has a leadership role in presenting annual awards. He says he very much enjoys being involved with the media studies program and reveals that the board is working on starting a law program at Radford.
“I bleed plaid,” he says with a laugh. “I’m very involved in Radford still, it’s where I got my start and I know we have a great program there.”
Ashley currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia and has been working as a freelance writer for the past 20 years. He mainly focuses on reporting college football and basketball. He enjoys traveling to games and reporting on his first love, college sports.