Rob RoblinHe wants to shop at the harbor, visit the...


December 30, 1990|By Mary Corey

Rob Roblin

He wants to shop at the harbor, visit the Eastern Shore and take his children to the aquarium. But the one thing Rob Roblin has really yearned to do since returning to Baltimore several weeks ago is eat a cheeseburger from Alonso's.

"You know, one of those burgers you can't fit your mouth around," he explains with a laugh.

If the name and face of WBAL-TV's new environmental reporter look familiar, they should. He's worked here -- at the same station, in fact -- four times before.

His career reads like a road map of a TV newsman's life -- a state-to-state hopscotch that has included California, Mississippi and Florida.

"It's the nature of the beast," says Mr. Roblin, 44. "The only places I haven't worked are New York and Los Angeles."

But growing up in a family where cross-country vacations were the norm helped prepare him, he says. Raised in Alabama, he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a radio and television degree. After college, he abandoned his dream of becoming a rock star ("I realized I couldn't sing or play anything") and worked as a disc jockey before making the leap to television.

The one difficulty with his latest move has been that his wife, Mary, and three children have stayed in Alabama until the school year ends. He, meanwhile, is living with a cousin in Towson.

But it's a small sacrifice, especially considering some of the difficulties he's faced in life. His parents' death when he was a teen-ager taught him to appreciate the present, he says.

She grew up in the church, admiring the ministers who kept the congregation rapt with their powerful, stirring words.

Today, Vashti McKenzie is delivering those words herself as the first woman pastor of Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church in Northwest Baltimore.

"Communication," says Ms. McKenzie, "that's really what the preaching experience is, helping people apply hope to a whole ** lot of hurt."

Her first career, however, almost took her in a very different direction. After graduating from the University of Maryland in College Park, with a general studies degree, she became a successful model. "It wears thin," says Ms. McKenzie, who's fortysomething and lives in Columbia. "You get very tired of worrying whether your hair is right."

She switched to radio broadcasting, working in programming for various Christian stations. But several years ago, after earning a master of divinity degree from Howard University, she decided she needed to commit to either the church or religious radio.

With the support of her three children and her husband, Stanley -- a former National Basketball Association player who now works as a personnel consultant -- she made the transition to full-time ministry.

She hasn't looked back. In fact, she's already won over several church members who expressed doubts about a woman leading them. Knowing there may be others doesn't discourage Ms. McKenzie.

"If God presents you with an opportunity, he'll give you strength to see it through," she says. "I've decided it's best to seize the moment, rather than wake up one day and say, 'I wish I had.' "

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