Jason Koma at desk

WOUB Prepares Former Student for Health Care Administration Career

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Jason Koma graduated from Ohio University in 1999

ATHENS, OH – When Jason Koma was a little boy, he had big dreams. He wanted to be a sports broadcaster.

“One of the oldest memories I have is using an old Casio tape recorder, which was about the size of shoebox, to record fake baseball games,” said Koma laughing. “I would use my baseball cards as the players, and then I would play it back for my family. They were probably horrible!”

So, when Koma graduated from Poland High School near Youngstown in 1995, he knew that Athens, Ohio was the place to go to chase that dream.

“I knew Ohio University had an amazing journalism program. I didn’t think I would get in, but I did. Fall quarter of my freshman year, I went to ACRN and WOUB and got involved pretty quickly,” said Koma. “To this day, people I met during my first few days at WOUB are still my dearest friends.”

Koma on Newswatch Anchor Desk
Koma anchoring WOUB Newswatch Sports in 1998

Koma worked in the WOUB newsroom doing both news and sports. But by his junior year, he started focusing on just sports. Koma anchored Newswatch and did play-by-play for Ohio University sports on WOUB AM.

“I tried to take advantage of all the opportunities.”

After graduating in 1999, Koma’s first job was at KFXV in Dubuque, Iowa, where he was sports director.

“When I got out there, I realized I was the entire sports department. I did a little bit of everything,” said Koma. “I helped out on the news side when they needed a spare reporter. And since I started in March of 1999, leading up to the 2000 presidential race and Iowa caucus time, I got to help cover the presidential candidates. One of the coolest things I got to do was be on a celebrity softball team with a then-little-known congressman from Ohio named John Kasich.”

Jason and wife, Jen, in Illinois
Jen and Jason Koma in Peoria, IL in 2005

Koma worked in Iowa for two years before moving on to become the weekend sports anchor at WHOI in Peoria, Illinois. It was there he met his future wife, Jen, and started thinking about a future outside of television.

“I loved being a sports broadcaster, but I wanted to figure out what to do next in life,” said Koma. “It was my minor league baseball moment. I realized I could play in the minor leagues as long as I wanted, but I wasn’t sure if or when I’d get called up to the majors.”

That’s when Koma decided to go back to where it all started. He returned to Athens and WOUB to become the assignment editor in the WOUB Newsroom and started graduate school pursuing his master’s in health administration.

“One of the great parts of WOUB that people don’t realize, students learn, and alumni appreciate, is the staff and how hard they work and how amazing they are. I am one of thousands of people that former WOUB Assistant News Director Fred Kight both scared and taught so much, and I will forever be grateful for that,” said Koma. “So, it was really a rewarding experience to be able to come back to Ohio University and WOUB, the place that helped shape me as a journalist and communicator, and do my best to shape the next generation.”

After he graduated, Koma got a job working in communications and marketing at the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), which is a physician association for the state of Ohio. After about four years, Koma became the director of public affairs at Mount Carmel. He has since been promoted and is now the Mount Carmel regional director of government affairs and regional development.

“In 2013, a huge issue for Mount Carmel was advocating for Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio,” said Koma. “The State Controlling Board was used to authorize funds to expand Medicaid, and I remember knowing more than any human should about the State Controlling Board because Fred Kight taught me about it when I was a sophomore in college.”

While his career is very different than what he expected, Koma knows what he learned as a student journalist was vital and helped get him where he is today.

“At Ohio University and WOUB, you learn how to be a quick study on sometimes complex information and distill it down to the key parts to communicate that forward,” said Koma. “With the pandemic going on, most of my job lately has been dedicated to being in a leadership role on Mount Carmel’s COVID-19 Incident Command team and vaccine task force. Every day I use the skills that I learned at WOUB. I study up on complicated research around COVID, including vaccines, and dig down to most essential parts. Then, I figure out how to act and help deliver on that.”