Ohio Journalist

A Mobilizing Mindset

By Mark Kors

(December 1, 2015) — When it comes to the news, Rudy Maxa has always sought to be first.

Whether it was as an investigative reporter for the Washington Post or as a travel journalist, his goal was to always tell people new facts. That concept was instilled in him at a young age and continues today. When Maxa (BSJ ’71) lived in Fort Knox, Ky., as a 9-year-old, he hand-printed seven news reports detailing a minor fender bender that occurred on his street.

“I always wanted to tell someone something that’s a surprise,” Maxa said. “I thought about it a lot. I love nothing more than telling someone something first, whether it was a news event, whether it was something I discovered, whether it was a travel deal, a restaurant that some people might not know about.”

This approach to news served him well, as he slowly worked up the ranks to become one of the nation’s most-respected travel journalists, extensively traveling around the world. He hosts a public television series, “Rudy Maxa’s World,” as well as a radio show that is broadcast on more than 170 radio stations. He is also a contributing editor at National Geographic and frequently is a public speaker.

“I’m not your ‘Paris-is-really-gorgeous-in-the-springtime’ writer,” Maxa said.

Maxa moved often while growing up in a military family, so he was comfortable traveling. But he had no idea it would be in the cards later in life. His journalistic career did not begin with a budding passion for travel.

“The travel thing just evolved by mistake,” Maxa said. “Just like my entire career has evolved by serendipity.”

Maxa spent 12 years at the Washington Post, writing as an investigative reporter, columnist and magazine writer. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize following his coverage of a Capitol Hill sex scandal. After he transitioned to more magazine writing, he moved to the Washingtonian. It was there he received his break that took him into the world of travel. National Public Radio approached him in 1990 to record “The Savvy Traveler,” a two-minute segment on Marketplace that aired once every two weeks. After his segment became a hit with listeners, it led to a two-hour public radio show before he transitioned to public television in 2001.

His journalistic career has been filled with intrigue. It is an extensive list that includes contributing articles to magazines including GQ, Forbes and Playboy. He also wrote for the ABC-TV dramatic series “Capital Hill” and has authored two books.

While Maxa has diversified his talents on television, radio and magazines, one thing that hasn’t changed is delivering the news to the public. He said he loves to help people who have misconceptions or general inquiries about travel and steer them in the right direction with his wealth of expertise.

“I think travel ought to be fun,” Maxa said. “Even if you’re traveling on business it should be fun. Anytime you take yourself out of your day-to-day environment it should at the very least be interesting, or is interesting if you allow it to be.”

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