Back when I was just starting my career, Cokie Roberts was my icon. I was working in government affairs and media relations and I loved listening to her reporting on the Congress I was working with every day.

Photo by Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

I revered her reporting style -- objective, concise and full of insight. As the editor of several newsletters covering the Congress' activities on healthcare, I tried to mimic her technique. She made me a better Congressional observer and writer.

I watched her faithfully on This Week With David Brinkley. Reveled in her commentary there and on the radio. Read her excellent books Founding Mothers and others.

I also appreciated that she was a trailblazer, one of the few women in her position. I worked at the time for a very patriarchal boss, in a patriarchal company with a male-dominated leadership. Ms. Roberts showed me what was possible. She was a role model for me and lots of other young women in the early 1980s.

Thanks to my local public radio station, WUNC, I got to meet Ms. Roberts once. She made me feel like she'd waited all day to meet me. Her genuine, easy style was infectious and admirable (after a long day of meeting with patrons).

The news of Ms. Roberts' passing hit me harder than I thought it would this morning. I admired her so much, but more than that, she had been with me on every step of my journey as a journalism, writing and campaign professional. I'll miss hearing her inimitable voice on the radio every week and her perspective on the upcoming elections. I like to think she's still here, watching over my writing and my own analysis of politics, gently guiding me to continue to raise the bar for my work and keep educating the electorate.

Thanks for everything, Cokie Roberts. You made a difference.