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Joe Tennis: A force to reckon with in print media
By Kevin Stump
A lot of words can describe Radford alumnus Joe Tennis: energetic, kind, talkative. But above all, experienced describes him perfectly.
Since graduating from Radford in 1992, Joe Tennis has been working in the news industry for a solid 24 years. From the Tartan at Radford to the Roanoke Times to celebrating 23 years at the Bristol Herald Courier, he has been in the game for a long time.
“So in 1992 I got out of Virginia Pilot, went to Kingsport Times News, worked there for one year as a schoolboard writer,” Tennis said. “I worked at the Kingsport Times News until 1993 then I went over to Bristol, and I’ve been there for 23 years.”
At the Bristol Herald Courier, Tennis has been working as a feature writer. Some of his features include a lawyer and an actress finding love, local festivals, to absurdities like the mystery surrounding the man that the Dr. Pepper beverage is named for.
“I swear to you I solved mysteries in that Dr. Pepper article,” Tennis said. “And it was so funny the stuff I quoted in that article, because I quoted sources saying this has to be true, and this has to be true, and you know it’s not because I just told you in the paragraph above why it was not true.”
Tennis continues his work for the Bristol Herald Courier and doing freelance magazine articles. News writing is not all he’s done, however. He’s also written 10 books, primarily about folk tales, ghost stories, and other historical tales of the Southwest Virginia area, starting with his book Southwest Virginia Crossroads, released in 2004.
“It was a lot of fun doing Southwest Virginia Crossroads,” Tennis said. “I worked on that thing for about 10 years off and on until it all finally came together.”
Historic tales might be his area of expertise, but Tennis has also published one children’s fiction book, along with his collections of ghost stories from Southwest Virginia. He’s not currently working on a book, but you can still find his news work on the Bristol Herald Courier website.