The Sun reached record highs in online audience for page views, unique visitors, local visitors and social media and mobile traffic, and was named the top website the past two years by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.

Robert Little, a high school classmate, worked closely with Alatzas as investigations editor at The Sun.

"Trif is, of course, the perfect person for the job," said Little, who is now senior investigations editor at NPR. "Not just because he loves Baltimore and he loves journalism, but because he loves The Sun. He's guided it through this digital transition that has got it where it needs to be."

Alatzas lives in Bel Air with his wife, the former Stacey Tiedge, and their children, George, 14, and Jamie, 10.

Raised in Rosedale, Alatzas studied at Calvert Hall College High School and Loyola University Maryland. He earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Loyola in 1988 and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield a year later.

Bill Hawkins was the regular at the family restaurant who offered Alatzas the internship at the Evening Sun.

"He was smart," said Hawkins, who retired as publisher of the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. "He didn't have any great experience, but you know, you could tell he was a winner. If he had a chance, you knew he was going to make the most of it."

Alatzas took his first full-time job in 1989 as a reporter at the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y. He later worked as a reporter and editor at the News Journal in Wilmington, Del.

Glenn Proctor, an editor and mentor in Rochester, guided Alatzas in his coverage of county politics.

"He was one of my young guns," Proctor said. "He was a hustler."

Proctor, who retired in 2011 as executive editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said serving as top editor is "a big weight to carry."

"But he can carry the weight," Proctor said. "He'll be a strong advocate for The Sun, for your readers and for the Baltimore community. I think he'll make the paper even better."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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