School of Communication alumnus Travis Wells


By: Christian Millsaps

With 26 years under his belt, Travis Wells is an established sports journalist who serves as the Sports Director for WDBJ-7, CBS’ Roanoke, Virginia affiliate station. Before he got this job, though, he had a humble beginning in a position he didn’t even want to fill. 

Before Wells graduated from Radford in 1995, he had already spent time working for WDBJ-7 as an intern for Mike Stevens, the sports director at the time, Steve Mason, a sports reporter, and the late Roy Stanley, who was the weekend sports anchor. His time as an intern allowed him to build a working relationship with Stevens and Mason as well as work on his craft. 

Wells recalled it being an important time for his career, for “those guys it wasn’t an internship where I was grabbing coffee and donuts for everybody … they allowed me, to their credit, to get some hands-on experience writing scripts [and] learning how to shoot highlights and so forth.” 

Due to Wells’ internship, Mason decided to give Wells a call about a part-time news photographer position that needed to be filled. Mason thought Wells was the man for the job, but Wells needed some convincing, “it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing at the time.” Mason, however, convinced Wells that this job could get his foot in the door.

“He couldn’t have been more right … It taught me a lot of lessons just as far as shooting and sequencing a story and how to put a story together.” 

After one year at that position, Wells was able to move on to a full-time position with benefits in news photography at WDBJ’s Lynchburg bureau. After a year at that position Wells was able to land a position in Charlottesville, Virginia. Wells worked for an NBC affiliate station, WVIR, working as a weekend sports reporter and anchor for three years. He then moved on to Bristol, Virginia, where he worked in the same capacity.

Still, Wells wasn’t where he wanted to be, Bristol was just too far from his hometown of Martinsville, Virginia. Wells always longed to be able to work close to home where all of his family was. In 2002, due to terrible circumstances, he got that chance. 

After a short battle with cancer, Roy Stanley, one of Wells’ former mentors, passed away in April. It was a difficult loss of a man who filled the halls of WDBJ-7 with “his boisterous blasts of laughter,” recalled Stevens in a WDBJ-7 broadcast shortly after his passing in April of 2002.

After Stanley passed WDBJ-7 needed someone to try and fill his shoes anchoring sports and doing Friday Football Extra. That is when Stevens was able to “go to bat for me,” recalls Wells. WDBJ-7, mourning the loss of a local news icon, was able to hire someone in his place that learned a lot from the man himself. To honor Stanley, Wells keeps a photo of him on his desk to this day. 

Wells was finally home, just an hour’s drive, give or take, from Martinsville and his family. Wells stepped up to the plate in his new role as the weekend sports anchor. He quickly became a viewer favorite and one who impressed his bosses at the station. 

When Stevens decided to leave WDBJ-7 in 2008, it was time for the station to choose a new sports director. They quickly named Wells as Stevens’ replacement. After being at the station for six years Wells was now the sports director at WDBJ-7. 

Wells in an interview with the Roanoke Times in 2017 said, “that was a little overwhelming … Mike had been here forever and was really an icon in the community.” Now, almost 19 years after coming to “Roanoke’s hometown station,” Wells has become an icon himself. 

“Our slogan is YOUR HOMETOWN STATION. I think for me and a handful of other people at the station this really is home,” Wells stresses. Being able to work in a place close to where Wells grew up and knows so many people is one of the most rewarding parts of being where he is today. He is also grateful he can go home around 7 p.m. to spend time with his wife, Chandra, and his two kids Meredith, who is now in college and Brayden, who is currently in high school. 

Wells is extremely grateful for the experiences he has had in his career and the lessons he learned on the basketball court in high school and at James Madison University and as a Highlander here at Radford. Wells said that his time here at Radford taught him a lot about relationships, something he has carried along with him throughout his career.

Now Wells is at a point in his career where he can be the mentor that helps teach the future generation of WDBJ-7 standouts. Whether it be as a Highlander or sports director at WDBJ-7, Wells takes his best shot at building relationships with the community and people around him. 

Mar 10, 2021
Ann Marie Cox