Radio airwaves turned Herman Reavis into a Roanoke Valley icon. Listeners throughout the region tuned into his “Squirm with Herm” boogie and blues show on WRIS radio in the 1950s. The pioneer in radio broadcasting retired several years ago with many accolades, including induction into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.
On Tuesday at Roanoke College, Reavis added another honor to his awards list as the 15th recipient of the Charles Brown Award, which is given each year by the College to a Salem citizen who has contributed significantly to the city’s quality of life. The award is named for Dr. Charles Brown, Roanoke’s first dean and a former mayor of Salem.
Reavis, a Salem resident, has mentored young adults and worked with some of radio’s best programmers and executives throughout his 64-year broadcasting career. He also was general manager at Mel Wheeler Inc., owner of several Roanoke area radio stations, including Q-99 and K-92.
In 2007, Reavis earned the state’s highest broadcasting honor when he joined the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.
Aside from professional achievements, Reavis has played an important role in the city of Salem. He has served with numerous Salem organizations, including the Rotary Club of Salem’s Board of Directors. He also has volunteered with the Salem Food Pantry and as an Air Force veteran, recently helped with the opening of a post-traumatic stress disorder center at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“I’m proud to be one of you,” Reavis said to a crowd that included Salem city employees, officials and residents during the breakfast award reception Tuesday. “Salem does not have streets of gold, but our streets are filled with people with hearts of gold.”
Reavis and his wife, Sue, have been married for 28 years, and they have seven children, 11 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.