Tom Edwards in a control room

WOUB Opens Doors and Launches Successful Broadcast Career

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Tom Edwards came to Ohio University in 1965

ATHENS, OH – While Tom Edwards knows the experience he gained while working at WOUB Public Media as a student was invaluable, he also believes the industry connections he made at WOUB were vital throughout his broadcasting career.

“I wanted to be a big time Rock ‘n Roll disc jockey,” said Edwards. “I heard radio and television at Ohio University was the best in the country. I visited WOUB when I was on my college visit in Athens and decided that’s where wanted to go to school.”

Edwards grew up in Columbus and started at Ohio University in the fall of 1965. He got involved at WOUB right away.

“The first thing I did was walk into the general manager’s office. I told him I had some experience, and I wanted to be on air at WOUB. He politely told me that there was a lot of competition. He said I’d be lucky to DJ my own show by junior year,” said Edwards.

“While disappointed, I decided on my own to produce promos for WOUB’s Ohio University football and basketball coverage, and it wasn’t long until I heard from the general manager. He told me he was not happy with the person doing the morning sign on shift, and he’d like me to take it over. I said I was not good with mornings,” said Edwards laughing. “The general manager again politely told me that this was one of the two biggest shows on the station, and I should take it. I realized he was right, and I did.”

Tom Edwards when he was a student at Ohio UniversityAfter Edwards spent some time working on the radio, he had impressed the professional staff at WOUB. So, when a Columbus TV station reached out looking for young talent, they passed along Edwards’ name.

“The man who hired summer replacement and weekend announcers at Channel 4 in Columbus, a former student who worked at WOUB, sent a note down to WOUB looking for a recommendation,” said Edwards. “I sent an on-camera audition tape and got the job.”

His voice also impressed the director of the Ohio University marching band, Gene Thrailkill. Edwards became the first announcer for what’s now known as The Ohio University Marching 110.

Even though Edwards was getting praise for his pipes, after spending some time working on the radio, he decided to see what WOUB television was all about.  He quickly learned that this was the place he wanted to be in broadcasting.

“I learned everything I could about the production side of TV,” said Edwards. “I became a duty director and then when the professional staff member who directed the nightly news program left for a new job, they chose three students to take turns directing the program at 10 p.m. I was one of those students.”

While directing the nightly news, Edwards was still working on the weekends and vacation relief at Channel 4 in Columbus. One day he learned that a director position was open there and applied.

“They knew I had been directing at WOUB and had the skills for the job,” said Edwards. “It was unheard of to walk out of college and get a job in a top 40 television market. So, I took it.”

After seven years in his hometown, Edwards moved on and served in producer/director roles in local television in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Detroit and production manager and senior director at what became an NBC owned and operated station in Denver. In addition, he worked as a freelance director for NBC Sports, a production manager for Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting and a television director for NBC Universal Sports Group – Mountain West Sports Network.  Edwards retired in 2012.

“I got some amazing opportunities during my career,” said Edwards. “I got to direct the world pool feed for two, multi-camera papal masses that were held in Denver for World Youth Day in 1993. That was pretty amazing.”

Edwards also did some teaching. He taught TV sports production at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the place where it all started – Ohio University – where he helped launch the student produced ESPN3 coverage of Bobcat sports.

“Ohio University and WOUB opened all the doors. It’s as simple as that,” said Edwards. “I encourage students to do everything they possibly can at WOUB. Spend as much time there as they are comfortable with to keep up with their academics. That on-the-job training is incredibly important.”