Rao, who was ailing for some time, was a mentor to thousands of young journalists and according to A Surya Prakash, a political commentator based in New Delhi, the net value of all those who had learned lessons of journalism from Subba Rao is a few hundred crore rupees.
Rao, popularly known as VNSR, was brilliant in both English and Kannada medium and churned out thousands of words every week in both languages. He had a tremendous grip on the intricacies of Kannada politics as well as the secrets of the Kannada film industry. He even called several Kannada politicians by their first names.
VNSR used to write a weekly political column titled 'In Passing' on a typewriter and his copy barely had a mistake. Later, he wrote the column for Deccan Herald where he worked for some time. After retiring, VNSR had launched a political weekly and a film weekly, both of which folded quickly. He never failed to attend a press conference and wrote Kannada movie reviews with great enthusiasm.
One of VNSR's uniqueness was that he maintained a keen sense of getting surprised even by a small incident. It showed that the man always had a fresh mind to accept things and never turned complacent over his mighty journalistic stature.