The late Michael D. Salster, of Amelia Court House, Va., was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame Thursday, April 12, at the John Marshall Hotel in downtown Richmond. Salster was a native of Marietta.
In announcing the induction, Master of Ceremonies (and one of the first Hall of Fame inductees) Roger Mudd said "Michael Salster. They remembered his burgundy mini-van because of the license plates. They read: 'Word Czar.' He was entitled to those words - he was an award-winning reporter for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, he was the editor of The Amelia Bulletin Monitor with a weekly circulation of more than 10,500, and he was a major communications figure in the Virginia's Republican Party."
His widow, Ann B. Salster, accepted the plaque and medallion and addressed the audience of colleagues, friends and sitting members of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. Mrs. Salster said in her remarks, "Mike loved his adopted state of Virginia and he loved the people he worked with in all his adventures ... When he passed there were countless accolades: 'He touched a lot of lives? he was always fair?one of the best reporters I ever had the privilege to meet. . . best-read person of historical biography I've ever known,' but the one I know he loved the most 'he was a dear friend who will be sorely missed'
The Marietta native majored in speech therapy at Ohio University before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1968. He would eventually oversee communication relations for his command at the German headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe. Through this position he gained valuable newspaper editing experience and skills, as well as a newfound love for journalism. In 1973, Mr. Salster returned to The Ohio State University where he completed a degree in journalism (minor in German) while working as a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch.
During his time at the Columbus Dispatch, Salster won a Wolfe Prize for his feature writing as well as a Gannett Award for spot news coverage. He later worked as a public relations consultant for an Ohio firm that helped establish a state seat belt law. He also worked with various candidates in Ohio, including Seth Taft, the grandson of President William Howard Taft.
Salster was recruited by the Republican Party of Virginia as director of communications. He became very close with the political reporters in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth. He worked with numerous campaigns including Maurice Dawkins' 1988 senatorial bid against Charles S. Robb and J. Marshall Coleman's 1989 gubernatorial bid against L. Douglas Wilder.
Salster later became campaign director of communications for former Lt. Governor John Hager.
He left RPV to join his wife, who is publisher of The Amelia Bulletin Monitor. Salster was editor of The Monitor until he took a post as Director of Communications with the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, which he held until his death in October of 2011.
Salster is the son of the late Raymond Salster and Peggy Webb Salster, formerly of Marietta. His sister Joyce Salster Scott is a resident of Marietta, and his daughter, Jennifer Salster Homza, lives in Parma Heights, Ohio.