freelance writer & editor
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I am a seasoned writer/editor and a former baker, street musician, ship painter, cannery worker, delivery driver, lifeguard and newspaper reporter. These diverse experiences help me connect with all kinds of people and develop compelling, informative, memorable materials.
After reporting for daily and weekly newspapers, I spent 21 years on staff at Time-Warner's Southern Living magazine, writing extensively for the Travel and Features departments and coordinating multiple special sections that focused on destinations, personalities and communities.
I have written for a variety of magazines, websites, and newsletters, helped small businesses develop web content, co-authored a book about preparing for and responding to tornadoes, edited and honed other writers' work, and written extensively about regulatory compliance for the financial industry.
Below are some examples of my work published in various magazines, including many that appeared in Southern Living, my writing home for 21 years. Click any image to open a PDF of that article. Let me know if I can help develop interesting, informative and memorable written content for you.
A Few Choice Words
The first time I saw Myrtle Beach, I tried to eat it. Parked at the high tide line in my two-tone convertible, a '58 stroller, I licked at plastic shovelfuls of sand.
from my story about revisiting a childhood beach
Islands, those natural metaphors for isolation, tickle the imagination like a sea breeze on the back of your neck.
from my story about the South's best secret islands
In the beginning, mankind could fly no better than bricks.
from my story about a hang gliding pioneer
Skiers pile up in tangles of gear as alien to them as socket wrenches to salamanders.
from my story about a ski school for beginners
Writing & Editing Experience
Freelance writer and editor preparing feature articles, marketing materials, web content, personality profiles, news reports, press releases and more. Clients include Journal Communications (North Carolina Travel Guides, Images Pueblo Magazine), Firebrand Media (Sea Island Life Magazine, Loews Hotels Magazine, Montage Magazine, Salamander Magazine), University of Alabama at Birmingham Periodicals (UAB Magazine, UAB Medicine Magazine), Savor North Carolina Magazine, The Piedmont Review, The Thirty-A Review, Washington Magazine, Country Magazine, the Tornado Recovery Action Council of Alabama, Taylor Sales & Service, The Old Mill. See www.joerada.com
My photo of sidewalk chalk artist in Cologne, Germany
Bakery Boy Blog 2010-present
The Bakery Boy Blog is my website all about bakeries and baking. I grew up in my family’s independent bakeshop, worked at several other bakeries too, and have visited hundreds of them during my career as a journalist and travel writer. In the process I learned a lot about life and baked goods, so I share my experiences with fellow bakery fans. See bakeryboyblog.wordpress.com
Regions Bank 2012-2022
Vice President (Birmingham, AL)
I wrote and edited a wide a variety of communications materials for this S&P 500 regional bank to help tell its story to customers, employees, managers, stockholders, and financial industry regulatory authorities. I also facilitated continuing education training and tracked training hours required of bankers responsible for identifying and fighting financial fraud. My last title at Regions was Regulatory Compliance Culture, Communication, and Training Administrator.
Southern Living 1989-2009
Associate Travel & Living Editor (Birmingham, AL)
During 21 years on staff at Time-Warner's Southern Living magazine I wrote travel stories about vacationing in the South, personality profiles about noteworthy people, places, organizations, artists, musicians, chefs, entrepreneurs, community leaders, outdoor enthusiasts, and others, plus hands-on adventures in canoeing, kayaking, white-water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, snow-skiing, sailing, hang-gliding, snorkeling, and other activities.
I coordinated the bimonthly "Georgia Living: People & Places" section and the quarterly "Florida Living: People & Places" section, writing content, assigning and editing staff and freelance contributors, initiating story concepts, managing photo assignments, and guiding layouts, while contributing as a writer for several other state sections. I wrote personal essays for the Southern Living columns Outdoors South, Southerners, Southern Journal, and Healthy Outdoors.
And I contributed feature stories to many sister publications at Southern Progress Corporation (a division of Time-Warner), including:
Southern Living Getaways
Southern Living Weekend Vacations
Southern Living Family Vacations
Southern Living Winter Vacations
Southern Living Summer Vacations
Southern Living Favorites
Southern Living Weddings
Biltmore (Biltmore Estate)
Enterprise Newspapers 1988-1989
Reporter (Lynnwood, WA)
Reporting news and feature stories for suburban weeklies outside Seattle, including writing, photographing, and coordinating the annual Showcase Edition special section for two years.
Cascade Crest 1988-1989
Co-editor (Seattle, WA)
Writing, editing, coordinating contributions from volunteer activists, and laying out the Sierra Club's Cascade Chapter newsletter in Seattle.
The Charleston Daily Mail 1982-1984
Reporter (Charleston, WV)
Reporting on beats including police, courts, education, city hall, state legislature, suburban areas, etc., and writing features for one of two competing daily newspapers in West Virginia's capital city.
The Senator 1980-1981
Editor (Elkins, WV)
Organizing, editing, and writing for the weekly student newspaper at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, while completing two undergraduate degrees in English and business administration.
The Baltimore Sun 1981
Intern Reporter (Washington, DC)
Reporting at the newspaper's Washington, DC, bureau.
Monongahela National Forest 1980
Intern Technical Writer (Elkins, WV)
Writing press releases about hiking, blueberry-picking, conservation efforts, public hearings, a wild & scenic river study of the Greenbrier River, and more in West Virginia's scenic highlands.
Master of Arts
English literature, 1987
University of Washington
Bachelor of Arts
English composition, 1981
Davis & Elkins College
Elkins, West Virginia
Associate in Science
Business administration, 1980
Davis & Elkins College
Elkins, West Virginia
SATW Lowell Thomas Award
Society of American Travel Writers 1992 Bronze for a piece on eagle-watching at Tennessee's Reelfoot Lake
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism 1992 Media Support Award for coverage of Arkansas destinations
Silver Cup Award
Ozark Mountain Region 1993 for coverage of travel destination and activities in the Ozarks
Ernie Pyle Award (nomination)
Nominated 1983 for a first-person series in the Charleston Daily Mail about a summer of rail travel and backpacking in Europe
Skills & Interests
writing, editing, interviewing, photographing, researching, coordinating publications
photographing, baking, traveling, canoeing/kayaking, hiking, motorcycling, playing music
Ever since I was a teenage hitchhiker toting a guitar and a notebook, I have lived for traveling. By age 25, I had visited all 50 United States, much of Canada, and a dozen European countries. Curiosity and writing assignments later led me to Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caymans, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the Galapagos Islands.
Let's talk about any written materials you need produced.