Ohio Journalist

Thoroughly Modern Media

By Chris Longo & Seth Austin

(December 1, 2015) — Ohio University’s Radio-Television Building was always neighbor to old Baker University Center, now redesigned and renamed as the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication. Now, joined by portals on every floor, the two buildings are inseparable.

Schoonover Center’s crisp, white walls barely had a chance to dry before students last year reclaimed the site of what is set to be the new home for Scripps College of Communication. While students and faculty are still in th process of making the Schoonover Center feel like home, WOUB — which has gone through a makeover of its own, albeit a slower one — has adapted with the changing state of the College of Communication.

THE PAST MEETS THE PRESENT

“It was dim, dark and the walls were ugly,” former WOUB News Director Tim Sharp said, recalling what the building was like back in 1999 when he was starting out at the station.

Today, bright lights line the hallway down to a newsroom stocked with state-of-the-art computers and edit bays. Not to mention, the walls are no longer hideous, now painted a vibrant white.

Ohio University’s public broadcasting station was founded in 1953 thanks to the determination of John Metzger, an Ohio student who pushed administrators to start the university’s first radio station. Since then, WOUB has evolved into a multimedia operation, serving as a non-academic unit of the Scripps College of Communication. The station broadcasts to 55 counties across Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, while giving Ohio University students the opportunity to develop skills to prepare them for future employment in broadcast journalism.

The changes in the physical appearance of the newsroom have been minor compared to changes in leadership. Sharp said the addition of Director and General Manager Tom Hodson is a big reason for a push to a more digital age.

“Just about a year ago I was like, ‘We need to focus on television. We need to pay attention to radio,’ ” Sharp said. “[Hodson] said, ‘It’s going to be digital first.’ But more and more I see I’m getting my news via Twitter and online. I’ve become a convert that this is an online world.”

When Hodson, the former director of the Scripps School of Journalism, started at WOUB in October 2011, he was directed to accomplish three goals: Ensure that the nonprofit station was financially sound, integrate more academic credit for students and modernize the station’s operations.

“When I came in, I decided we were going to redefine broadcasting,” Hodson said. “We decided that we needed to redo our website. We redefined broadcast in that everything we do from news, music, arts and sports content-wise goes to the web first. Once it is put on the web, then it’s re-purposed for either television or radio or other media.”

Hodson said hits online have increased tenfold since WOUB’s website was redefined. Although the web has become a bigger part of their operation, the managers still have to ensure that radio and television broadcasts are fulfilling the need of their market, which is a unique one.

“The stories that are day to day are important for what’s going on in Athens,” Sharp said. “No one from Columbus or Charleston is going to come from those places, so we cover those things. There’s a hole in those two markets. So the entity that fills that hole is WOUB.”

With broadcast students comprising almost the entire staff, WOUB prides itself on preparing its students with real-world experience.

“We have expanded the number of Final Cut stations that we have,” Sharp said. “We have ENPS, which is one of the premier electronic news-production systems in the country. So that when students graduate from here, chances are they are going to be able to walk into a newsroom and hit the ground running.”

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF WOUB

From producing “NewsWatch,” to filming and editing segments for the station’s flagship sports programs, “Gridiron Glory” and “Hardwood Heroes,” students are getting realworld journalism experience on North Green.

Now that experience will be heightened by the addition of the Scripps College of Communication’s glistening new building, the Schoonover Center. WOUB is currently undergoing its own renovations, with offices in the Radio-Television Building temporary being housed in Schoonover Center. Alyssa Pasicznyk, a senior broadcast journalism major, said although the daily operations of WOUB won’t move to the Schoonover Center, the new building will enhance the journalism experience at Ohio.

“I definitely think that the new equipment in Schoonover will be great for people who work at WOUB and media students,” Pasicznyk said.

Colin Brown (BSJ ‘14) said with the addition of the Schoonover Center, he graduated from Ohio excited — and a little envious — about what the Schoonover Center could mean for future students, the university and WOUB. Brown said the building not only has the potential to connect all disciplines in the college of communication, but also brings the faculty and students closer together.

“I think it could help the student-professor relationship,” Brown said. “It will affect all the journalism students, but I feel that writers have it better off because of the proximity to the professors in (the) old building. Now, with Schoonover, it could be a benefit for broadcast students, being just a hallway away from the professors.”

Though Brown said he is not as close as he would like to be with many of the broadcast professors, he picked up the ins and outs of broadcasting through WOUB, learning from his elders.

“As a freshman, you are mentored by the people who are currently on air, and they teach you how to use the cameras, how to shoot and you shadow them,” Brown said.

Brown worked his way up from a freshman web reporter to the on-air beat reporter for volleyball and men’s basketball. As a senior, Brown found value in teaching the younger members of the WOUB staff.

“As far as peer mentoring, it’s good to have people under you,” he said. “By teaching people you learn how to master your craft because you look at things from a different angle.”

Brown’s time at WOUB gave him the confidence to pursue journalism classes outside of the broadcast realm, something he attributes to his growth as a well-rounded journalist.

“I compare being a broadcast journalist to being a five-tool baseball player. You have to shoot, edit, write, report and produce, and having all five will get you a job,” Brown said. “WOUB taught me how to do all those things, and how to do them better and improve.”

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