Emily Votaw Headshot

WOUB Employee Spotlight: Emily Votaw

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Votaw has worked at WOUB since 2016

ATHENS, OH – “I absolutely love my job. If I could go back in time and tell myself at seven years old that this is the job I would be working at age 28, I would have thought I was just about the coolest person who had ever lived!”

And Emily Votaw isn’t exaggerating. The WOUB arts and culture reporter has a deep love for music and arts. Being able to write stories about her passions is truly a dream come true.

“I am very close to my father, a house painter and general contractor, who has always had a passion for making art and an encyclopedic knowledge of music. He showed me how just turning the radio on can make any situation infinitely more enjoyable, even if you were working a shift washing dishes,” said Votaw. “Music has always been my ‘special interest,’ and I have an oppressively large collection of used CDs, tapes, and vinyl records. My parents always emphasized to me that I didn’t have to be a ‘professional’ artist in order to enjoy and create art.”

Votaw grew up in Berlin, Ohio. Her mother, who was from a family with a long military tradition, established a veterinary practice in Berlin in the early 1980s. Votaw learned the value of her family story and the arts as a young child.

“My grandfather, Cecil Anderholm, not only served during World War II, but he was also promoted to an intelligence position because of his facility for languages. He was the duty officer at the National Security Agency during the Bay of Pigs, and supposedly he personally rousted President John F. Kennedy out of bed in the middle of the night to tend to the situation!”

“Although I do not come from a wealthy background, my parents always made sure my younger brother and I had access to lots of art supplies and books when we were kids, and that we got to visit regional museums. That really started my passion for the arts.”

Votaw came to Ohio University to study journalism in 2009. She eventually found a home at WOUB working for then-Arts and Culture Reporter Bryan Gibson.

“I loved the job, and Bryan really helped me hone my writing style and approach to covering music,” said Votaw. “With my WOUB clips, I was able to land an internship with Billboard Magazine the semester before I graduated, which was a majorly important experience for me.”

After graduation, Votaw returned home and worked as a reporter for The Sugarcreek Budget, The Daily Record in Wooster and The Holmes County Bargain Hunter, all the while working as a freelance writer for the Cleveland Scene and  Then, in 2016, Gibson moved into a new role at WOUB, and the arts and culture position opened up.

“I missed Athens dearly, and I knew the job was exactly what I wanted to do with myself professionally, so I applied for the position and was selected for it!”

Votaw is currently in her second year of graduate studies in the Ohio University School of Media Arts and Studies, studying audio storytelling and ethnomusicology. She says she loves that she not only has the opportunity to continue her education but also that her education so specifically maintains and improves the skills needed for her position at WOUB.

“As a storyteller, it makes me so proud to be working for an outlet that is so focused on service to our community rather than profit. Public Media is important, and I am so proud to be a part of it.”