Rich Rarey headshot

Pioneering NPR Career Started at WOUB

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Rich Rarey graduated from Ohio University in 1980

ATHENS, OH – When Rich Rarey came to Athens for the first time in January 1976, he knew he was deeply interested in broadcasting and that WOUB was a place he needed to be.

“At the age of 13, I bought a tape recorder with my own money at an auction,” said Rarey. “I’d make radio tapes and pretend to be a disc jockey. It was my passion. When I looked at colleges, I heard some really positive things about Ohio University and the AM/FM radio stations where students did work; news, public affairs, music, everything.”

Rarey grew up in Columbus and was able to pick up the WOUB FM radio signal at his home.

“The signal was remarkable, and I liked what I heard,” said Rarey. “I went down for a visit and spent the day in Athens touring the college. I was deeply impressed with the student involvement at WOUB.”

Rarey came for a second visit and was asked to run the radio board for a station break on WOUB FM, and that did it.

“I was sold,” said Rarey. “I knew right then and there that I was going to Ohio University.”

As soon as Rarey arrived on campus in the fall, he went straight to WOUB to get involved.

“The radio engineering supervisor, John Humphrey, put me to work cleaning cart machines and other engineering maintenance work,” said Rarey. “I thought it was tremendous fun doing this professional work. Because of this engineering work, at the end of the fall quarter, I was able to get trained on running the AM and FM broadcast consoles. I tried being a WOUB-FM country disc jockey and did weekend radio news work. I also worked on a WOUB AM comedy radio program called Foxpaw (A Social Blunder).”

Rarey stayed over summer and winter breaks to work at WOUB until graduation, and got valuable experience, earning, he said, “the princely sum of $2.35 an hour.” But he says his liberal arts education in the classroom also taught him how to continue to learn and grow.

“I was prepared for the broadcast industry at that time because of my work at WOUB,” said Rarey. “However, the technology and equipment in the industry becomes obsolete and changes. What I learned in the liberal arts education at Ohio University allowed me to be able to adapt as the industry changed.”

Rarey Headshot in 1980
Rarey’s first ID picture at NPR in 1980

After Rarey graduated in the spring of 1980, he was hired to work as a bureau engineer at the Chicago office of National Public Radio.

“Educational broadcasting wasn’t a cool thing to do back then,” said Rarey. “But WOUB taught me about its value, and I was excited to work there.”

Rarey stayed at NPR until July 2014 and worked in several different roles which included serving as the first technical director for Weekend Edition. He also worked as Master Control supervisor and the director of NPR Labs. When Rarey’s time at NPR ended, he did some private consulting work and is now a senior software engineer for Tome, Inc. based in Detroit.

“I’m grateful to Ohio University for preparing me to work in an industry I loved and teaching me how to learn and pivot,” said Rarey. “If you don’t know that you can’t do it, you absolutely can do it.”