Pictures of Soozan Palsa through the years
Photo above: (Left) Palsa leaning over working with student in WOUB Graphic Design Office; (Right) Palsa today

WOUB Employee Spotlight: Graphic Design Manager Soozan Palsa

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Palsa started at WOUB in 1978

ATHENS, OH – When WOUB Graphic Design Manager Soozan Palsa came to Ohio University as a student in the mid-1970s, she never thought she’d still be living in Athens more than 40 years later. But, as many do, she fell in love with the place.

“I’m one of those people that came here and never left,” said Palsa. “I grew up in Pittsburgh and originally went to Kent State to study architecture. But there were only 10 girls in my architecture class and prejudices against women became very clear. That was not something I wanted to deal with, so after three years, I transferred to Ohio University to study graphic design. I didn’t know anything about Athens and never thought I would live in a rural area. But I was really lucky to meet families who lived in other nearby counties and got immersed in the culture.”

A professor told Palsa about the opportunities available at WOUB, and she came to the Radio and Television Building to check it out. After talking with professional staff, Palsa volunteered to work at the station as a student.

“After I volunteered at WOUB for a while, I started preparing for my job search as I got close to graduation. One day I was over at the library looking up addresses for companies in Chicago to apply for jobs when I found out that the graphic designer at WOUB had accepted a new job,” said Palsa. “WOUB asked me to take the position temporarily while they conducted a search for a new graphic designer. I applied for the WOUB position and was offered the job.”

Palsa started in the role in the fall of 1978. The job has changed dramatically over the years. Now, the primary tool Palsa uses to create is a computer. But, back then, everything was done by hand.

Illustrated design of Ramblin
Illustrated design Palsa created for WOUB TV program Ramblin in 1980s

“I did a lot of pen and ink drawings for our ads and publications,” said Palsa. “We did slides for the television breaks which also had to be done by hand with color paper or plastic that you would cut apart to create the design. I would then pass the design on to the WOUB Staff Photographer Jim Crouse, and he would do the slide film.”

Over the years, Palsa got to do a variety of work. In the 1980s, grant money was available to stations like WOUB from the Ohio Arts Council. Palsa said the money was used to build incredible sets for productions.

“Working on those sets was really fun,” said Palsa. “I also really enjoyed some of the illustrated designs I did for the cover of our monthly program guide.”

Palsa did leave WOUB in 1988 and went out to the Pacific Northwest. There she did freelance graphic work for local printers and other various businesses.

Palsa with Diane Rehm
Palsa with Public Radio Host Diane Rehm at WOUB studios

“I lived in Portland, Oregon then moved to Seattle, Washington for more employment opportunities. I had a job designing closet spaces. After driving to the customer’s home, I would explain cost options, evaluate their closet needs and draw a design on graph paper for the installers. I got to know the streets of Seattle really well!”

But, one day in 1991, she got a call from then-WOUB Director Joe Welling asking her if she would consider coming back to WOUB. Palsa accepted the offer and has been at WOUB ever since.

“Since I grew up in Pittsburgh, I knew about the Mister Rogers show on PBS and became aware of public broadcasting,” said Palsa. “I really believe in the public broadcasting mission of helping the community and surrounding area. This was a good fit for me.”

Palsa has had many opportunities working at WOUB, including meeting different celebrities who have come through the area like retired public radio host Diane Rehm. She has also enjoyed working with students over the years and many of them became her friends.

“My dad was an architect, and I worked for him as a kid, but I could never do anything right,” said Palsa. “When I work with students, I try to keep that in mind and be very patient with them because I remember how that was. I’ve had students who have worked with me at WOUB move on to fantastic careers, and I am really happy for them.”