Matt Sepic Headshot
Photo Credit: Evan Frost, MPR News

Former Student Covering George Floyd Death and Aftermath on NPR

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Matt Sepic graduated from Ohio University in 2000

ATHENS, OH – When Matt Sepic was a student journalist working at WOUB Public Media, he heard coverage on NPR from reporters across the United States and the world, reporting on the big national and international news stories of the day. He never imagined that one day he would eventually be a reporter that NPR listeners relied on for coverage of a major moment in U.S. history.

“George Floyd was killed about a mile and a quarter from my home,” said Sepic. “Rioting took place six blocks away. This was a story that was quite literally close to home.”

Sepic is a general assignment reporter for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), which is based in St. Paul. He has been covering the civil unrest and its aftermath locally for MPR and filing stories nationally for NPR.

“While we were covering the riots, police were shining lights and pointing 40mm foam round launchers at us, telling us to back up. I was live on the air as officers chased my colleagues and me away from a police station,” said Sepic. “It was surreal to walk around familiar streets close to my home with gas stations on fire. I was glad I had the chance to cover it and explain what was going on to the audience, but it’s not something I ever want to experience again in my own city.”

Sepic started his public radio career as a student at WOUB. He grew up in suburban Cleveland and came to Ohio University to pursue his interest in public radio and journalism.

“My parents always had public radio on in the house,” said Sepic. “I thought journalism would be an interesting field and knew about Ohio University’s excellent journalism program. I also knew about WOUB and was really excited to learn about the level of student involvement at the station.”

Sepic got involved at WOUB as a freshman, taking advantage of every opportunity to hone his radio journalism and broadcasting skills.

“WOUB was as real as anything that I would eventually experience when I started working professionally. The FM station covers three states, has five transmitters and was an excellent way to get hands-on experience. WOUB is such an important resource for the entire region, and I was lucky to have that opportunity,” said Sepic.

“I started working on WOUB AM, where Connie Stevens taught me how to run a radio board and do station breaks. I worked with other professional staff members like Mark Hellenberg, Rusty Smith and John Ray, who were wonderful mentors. What I learned at WOUB serves me well today because the skills I picked up there allow me to be able to do almost any job in the newsroom now.”

Sepic graduated from Ohio University in 2000. His first job was at WNIN, a public radio station in Evansville, Indiana. After three years in the Hoosier state, he moved on to KWMU Public Radio in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2010, Sepic started at MPR.

“I believe in the mission of public radio,” said Sepic. “The challenge now in covering the racial justice movement in Minnesota is talking about where we go as a city in the future. What is policing going to look like in this city?  What does public safety look like in the future? What are the conditions that lead to this happening here in the first place? These are important topics, and I look forward to continuing telling this story for MPR and NPR.”