Michael Karman Headshot

Former WOUB Student Led the Way at ABC

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Michael Karman graduated from Ohio University in 1976

ATHENS, OH – Michael Karman had a wide-ranging career working for the ABC network and credits all the opportunities he got to his start as an Ohio University student at WOUB Public Media.

“I transferred to Ohio University from American University in the summer of 1974,” said Karman. “Ohio University had an excellent reputation for communications, and there was a tremendous opportunity to get hands-on experience as a student at WOUB.”

Karman grew up in New York City. He spent his first summer in Athens learning about the community and getting his feet wet at the campus radio station, ACRN. He engineered programs, did hockey and baseball broadcasts and just tried out whatever he could. Once school started in the fall, Karman started working at WOUB.

“I lived in the Radio and Television Building,” said Karman. “I ran audio and camera for television broadcasts. The experience at WOUB helped me land an internship at WGN in Chicago where I became the graphics coordinator for Notre Dame Basketball coverage because I was willing to use my experience and knowledge to learn a new piece of equipment.”

Karman in Louisiana newsroom
Karman at KALB-TV in Alexandria, Louisiana Operating RCA TR-70 2” Tape Machine

Karman graduated in 1976 and eventually landed his first job at a TV station in Alexandria, Louisiana.

“I did everything. I ran graphics and operated cameras. I worked morning shifts and evening shifts. It was a small station with a limited number of employees. So, the work was hard, but I learned a lot.”

After about a year in Louisiana, Karman was ready to go home. He moved back to NYC without a job. A fellow Ohio University graduate told him about an opportunity to work vacation relief at ABC, and Karman applied.

“I got the job and during my second week, they sent me to Denver, Colorado to work on coverage of The U.S. Open Golf Tournament at the Cherry Hills Country Club.”

Karman was eventually hired by ABC full time where he worked in a variety of roles including electronic and computer graphics for live sports, news and political conventions.

Karman working for ABC in 1978
Karman in June 1978 with ABC Sports Covering The U.S. Open Golf at Cherry Hills C.C. Denver, Colorado

“I was part of the crew that put on ABC’s first Rose Bowl Parade,” said Karman. “I lead the production crew for ABC’s coverage of the Pro Bowlers Tour. It was a lot of fun. Bowling is not made for TV, and we had to figure out unique camera shots. I also was technical director for the first season of Monday Night Football in high definition. We created standards that are still being used today.”

Karman worked on programs like the Wide World of Sports, Good Morning America and 20/20. He was also involved in ABC’s September 11 coverage.  Karman won three Emmys, two Edward R. Murrow’s for news coverage and one Peabody for 9/11 coverage.

In 2006, Karman’s career took a dramatic turn. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the surgery required to remove it disabled hearing in his left ear. He knew that production work would be difficult without the use of his ear. So, Karman took his technology knowledge and moved inside the building to put together ABC’s network automation program. Karman retired five years ago after more than 37 years at ABC.

“I had a fantastic career, and WOUB was the reason why,” said Karman. “It gave me incredible problem-solving skills. I have a bunch of hardware on my mantel all because of WOUB. It gave me the hardworking attitude to know that I could learn anything. I still know that today, and WOUB did that for me.”