Gift of gab will serve new PR director well She hopes to educate residents about county

June 23, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

In a sense, Vicki Ann Cox, who begins work June 30 as the county's public relations director, has been preparing for her new job since junior high school.

"I'm very outgoing and I like to talk," she says. That combination led her to become her Rockville junior high school's public address announcer.

She has been talking into a microphone ever since, having worked the past 14 years as a radio and television reporter and newscaster.

Indeed, it was her interview of County Executive Charles I. Ecker on a Baltimore radio station that led to her new $59,934-a-year job.

Mr. Ecker called about a month ago, she says, and asked if she would be willing to be interviewed for the post vacated by Kenneth C. Mays, a local advertising executive.

She not only agreed to the interview, she accepted the job. Her announcements now will be on behalf of county government.

"I was impressed with her background and the management ability she will bring to the office," Mr. Ecker says of the 36-year-old Columbia resident. "We had a number for very good applicants, but my subjective opinion is that she was the best -- and this is taking nothing away from the other applicants. They were all very good."

Mr. Ecker, who seldom uses the county press office as an extension of his own voice, says that will not change. "My door will still be open," he says. Ms. Cox's job will be to "market the county."

"I'm a good fit," Ms. Cox says. "I have a lot of experience in the community and in broadcasting. Hopefully, I can educate taxpayers about

what they are getting for their money. If I feel I make county government more accessible, I will have accomplished my goal."

She will be relying on her reporting skills to help achieve that goal, Ms. Cox says. "The taxpayers are our customers," she says. "How are we serving them? I would like to know. I still have a lot of reporter left in me and I would like to find out."

A native of Washington, Ms. Cox moved with her family to Rockville shortly after she was born and then to Sandy Spring for her high school years.

The transition to a new high school was made easier, she says, by the presence of her younger sister. "We kept each other company," and still do, she says. Her sister, Sharon Pavlos, also lives in Dorsey's Search.

Ms. Cox says she can't remember ever wanting to do anything other than broadcast journalism. "I've always had an interest in current events, in what's happening around me," she says.

Her biggest goal in high school, she says, was to find a good journalism school. She chose the University of Maryland and went to work immediately for the campus radio station as a newscaster and reporter.

It was there, during her freshman year, that she got her first break into commercial broadcasting, she says. A sportscaster for a Washington television station visited the campus and hired her as a summer intern.

The job took her to places such as the Kemper Open and the Washington Redskins training camp. To this day, she remains an avid sports fan and self-described "rabid" Maryland Terrapin rooter.

After her graduation from Maryland in 1979, Ms. Cox worked for a Baltimore radio station on early-morning newscasts until she was lured away by a competitor three months later.

She left that job 2 1/2 years later to become a television reporter in Harrisburg, Pa., where she again worked 2 1/2 years before returning to Baltimore to take a television reporting job with WMAR-TV, Channel 2.

After a six-year stint at Channel 2, Ms. Cox returned to radio and was most recently the news anchor for an all-news radio station that serviced several commercial airlines.

What she liked best about broadcast journalism, she says, was "getting there first on a breaking news story with the best pictures and the best interviews."

So if Connie Chung flops and CBS comes calling, will Ms. Cox go back into commercial television?

She shakes her head no.

"I always wanted this kind of [government public relations] job," she says, but until now, "it never felt like the right one. I really wanted this job. [Mr. Ecker] picked the right person. I really look forward to serving county government.

"And I'm a resident here. That counts for a lot."

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