Robin Turnau: A passion for public radio

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

For 27 years there has been one constant in Robin Turnau’s life: her employment at Vermont Public Radio. Fresh out of college, Turnau joined VPR in 1989 and twenty years later was named president, moving from the fourteenth person hired at the station to overseeing a staff of 55. Turnau grew up in what she describes as a “public radio household.”

She had just graduated from UVM when she was hired for the job of membership drive coordinator. “I talked my way into the job,” she recalls. “I didn’t have a whole lot of experience but I felt then and still feel now extremely passionate about public radio.”

Through a combination of her passion and strong work ethic, she was able to move up the ranks at VPR. “It’s really easy to ask people to support something you believe in so strongly yourself,” she said. “The combination of the skills I came to the job with and my interest in public radio really helped me to have a good start to my career and it continues to this day.”

In 2006, Turnau was named Development Professional of the Year by the Public Radio Association of Development Officers after establishing a $10 million endowment fund.
Turnau has lived in Charlotte since 1991. “I love the location,” she said. “I feel like it’s getting away from the more crowded Burlington area and it’s a community where I’m proud to have raised my kids. Charlotte is full of people who really care about what happens to the town and their fellow citizens.”

Turnau loves gardening and is pleased to still be eating from her own harvest, thanks to the 150 pounds of sweet potatoes she grew last summer. She also raises chickens for eggs and meat. In her spare time she races sailboats out of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, creates pottery at the Shelburne Craft Center and cross-country skis at Sleepy Hollow.

From her early roots as a door-to-door Avon salesperson and her college days selling advertising for The Cynic at UVM, Turnau has always maintained a strong work ethic. In 2009 she was VPR’s vice president for development when she was tapped for what she refers to as “the best job in Vermont.”

In her seven years as president, Turnau has many reasons to be proud. “One of the most satisfying moments was when we put a new radio station in Brattleboro because it’s an area of the state we really wanted to serve,” she said.

Turnau is also excited to be overseeing the construction of a new building to house her growing staff. The current offices were designed for 27 employees but that number has doubled. “This project is probably what I’m most proud of because we have the best staff in the country,” she said. “To see them work in a place that will inspire them and allow them to do their best for the people of Vermont makes me happy.”