Mary Jane Reiter Headshot

Former WOUB Student Leads the Way for Women in Broadcasting

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Mary Jane Reiter graduated in 1972

ATHENS, OH – When Mary Jane Reiter transferred to Ohio University from Toledo in 1970, she wanted to find a place where she could study radio and television. She found that along with WOUB Public Media, a place where she could get real-world, hands-on radio/TV training and become a leader for women in the broadcast industry.

“The majority of the professors at Ohio University and WOUB professional staff members were approachable and open. There was a lot of change going on in the nation at the time. It was during the Vietnam War. I transferred right after Kent State had happened,” said Reiter. “Turmoil was brewing under the surface. Feminism and equality were on the forefront of my mind. I found more opportunities and openness at the university and WOUB. It made it seem like the world of radio and television was accessible to a female. Athens was a very special place for me at a very special time.”

Reiter worked as a continuity director at WOUB, helping to write copy for the station’s hosts to read between music and interviews on the radio. She also got involved in news, covering political rallies during election season.

“The camaraderie among people working at WOUB and taking classes at the university was amazing. I made incredible friendships during that time,” said Reiter. “From my association with WOUB, I was also able to meet people in the broadcast industry who became my mentors. One of them encouraged me to start the first campus chapter of American Women in Radio and TV.”

Reiter graduated in 1972 and started working at WFMJ TV in Youngstown.

“I was hired as a production assistant,” said Reiter. “The hiring manager told me that he was hiring me because I was from Ohio University. He went on to say that they had never had a woman in this position before, and he wanted to hire a woman for the role. He said he knew about the quality education that Ohio University students got in radio and TV and felt good about hiring me for the job.”

Reiter worked in Youngstown for just under a year and then moved back to her hometown of Toledo to be with her father, who was ill. She landed a newswriting position at WSPD radio. In that role, she was a pioneer once again.

“I was the first woman hired in the newsroom in the history of the station. I worked the early morning shift. The morning anchorman wore cowboy boots and smoked cigarettes. He reminded me of Ted Knight on The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” said Reiter laughing.

Reiter moved up the ranks at WSPD eventually becoming assistant news director. But in 1980, Reiter moved with her husband to California. She worked a few different jobs in news and then decided to change course.

“The technology industry was booming in California at the time, and I looked for needs in that industry,” said Reiter. “I parlayed my communication skills into working in public relations for technology companies. I retired a few years ago.”

Even though she got out of the broadcast industry, Reiter says she knows her time at WOUB helped her throughout her career.

“WOUB allowed me to have the confidence to know that anything was really possible,” said Reiter. “I could get the skills and training at WOUB, and I knew that if I kept at, it was possible to achieve what I wanted to achieve.”