Hiaasen, one of the five victims of the fatal shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, worked as a reporter at WPTF in Raleigh in 1984 for about a year and met his wife, Maria, while both worked at radio stations for the company, according to WPTF management.
The radio station is playing radio tributes to Hiaasen all day.
Rob Hiaasen, one of the victims of the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, previously worked as a reporter at WPTF in Raleigh. I talked to his former coworkers about how they’re remembering him. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/61NwW1Qpp2— Gloria Rodriguez (@GloriaABC11) June 29, 2018
WPTF radio broadcasters Mike Raley and Tony Riggsbee worked with Hiaasen.
"The fact that it was a person I knew I think has probably not really set in yet," Raley said.
Raley and Riggsbee remember Hiaasen's warm smile and his dedication to his craft.
"He was an outstanding writer," Riggsbee said. "He was one of those guys who knew how to be concise yet at the same time give you the details that you needed in a story."
"He was gregarious," Raley said. "One of the smartest people I think I'd ever met and he could do offbeat stories better than most people."
Hiaasen, 59, was a columnist and editor at the Capital Gazette, where the shooting happened.
The suspect, Jarrod Ramos, had lost a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper.
"It's very hard," Raley said. "This business is tough in a lot of different ways but having someone who has probably put his life on the line at some point as a reporter over the years, to lose his life at the top of his game in a newsroom, in an idyllic place like Annapolis, Maryland, is hard to grasp."
According to The Baltimore Sun, where Hiaasen previously worked, Maria and Rob Hiaasen married within five months of knowing each other and celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary last week.
Riggsbee called it one of the "great newsroom romances of all time." One that started in Raleigh.