For the past 13 months, Roll Call’s “Heard on the Hill” column has rotated reporters in and out like pay-per-hour guests at a Daytona Airport Travelodge. In July of 2010, Emily Heil checked out for a gig in Features, leaving Beth Brotherton with newbie Ali McSherry. After Brotherton dropped a few bucks on the nightstand this February, McSherry spent long, cold nights alone at Hotel HOH until she too packed her bags in March. Because McSherry’s departure left the column at 0% occupancy, Heil returned for a few cheap thrills until Neda Semnani arrived in May. You get the point.
But Semnani’s solo summer is soon coming to an end when “Heard on the Hill” welcomes lucky number 5 to its roster of writers since last year. The new voice of HOH isn’t exactly what you’d expect – partly because it sounds like John Stanton (deep and low) saying things like ‘duck confit,’ ‘pomegranate reduction,’and ‘foie gras.’ But mainly because, at first blush, Warren Rojas’s CV doesn’t scream Cap Hill gossip columnist.
Currently the Dining Editor at Northern Virginia Magazine, Rojas will walk away from five years of free meals and booze to join HOH next week. Scratching your head yet? Yeah, thought so. But despite the fact that he’s spent half a decade mingling with the region’s culinary culturatti, I’m betting big on Rojas. Prior to his 60-month food coma, Warren spent nearly seven years at Tax Analysts where he worked as an investigative and Cap Hill reporter for the organization’s publication, Tax Notes.
“I never aspired to be the world’s best tax reporter,” said Rojas. “When I left for Northern Virginia Magazine, I was completely burnt out on tax policy. But I’ve missed the investigative side of that position.”
Rojas won’t completely dismiss his foodie foundation for the new job. In addition to HOH, he’ll pick up restaurant reviewer duties for the paper – a somewhat perfect synthesis of his eclectic experience. As for “Heard on the Hill,” Rojas says it’s all about accountability.
“We’re going to shine a light on each individual Member of Congress,” Rojas told FishbowlDC. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise when a member self destructs on Facebook or if their Twitter feed explodes.”
Warren Rojas begins at Roll Call next week. Until then, he’s keeping a low photo-less restaurant reviewer-style profile but you can follow him on Twitter here.