Mike Raita Headshot

Former WOUB Student Becomes Exec. Director of International Motorsports Hall of Fame

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Mike Raita graduated from Ohio University in 1981

ATHENS, OH – When Mike Raita came to Ohio University in the late 1970s, he never imagined he would end up as the executive director of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. But he says his time at Ohio University and WOUB prepared him for whatever opportunities came his way.

“WOUB showed me how competitive the media business would be,” said Raita. “There were so many people who had the same goals. I saw some of that competition between students. It sounds negative, but to me it was really positive. It was great preparation for what I would encounter when I started looking for a job.”

Raita, who grew up in Cincinnati, originally attended the University of Cincinnati on a soccer scholarship. But things didn’t work out the way he had planned.

“I was interested in playing soccer, not in academics. I ended up quitting school and went abroad trying to make a career playing soccer in Germany,” said Raita. “I eventually realized that wasn’t going to happen. After returning home, I was watching a basketball game on TV with my dad and started complaining about the play-by-play announcer. My dad responded by saying, ‘You like sports. You like to talk. Why don’t you try to see if you can do that yourself?”

Raita, whose sisters both went to Ohio University, knew about the college’s strong radio and television broadcasting program, and decided to transfer to Athens.

“I knew about WOUB before I got to Athens,” said Raita. “I spent couple of quarters working at the TV station as a booth announcer, doing the breaks at the top of the hour with the station ID and talking about upcoming programming. I also did some behind the scenes stuff in the newsroom by gathering interviews and writing copy.”

Raita graduated in 1981. He interned right out of school at WLWT in Cincinnati working in the sports department and learned a great deal.  Then, he got his first paying job at CNN in Atlanta, which had only been on the air for about a year at the time. Raita was hired as a video journalist, which he says was a glorified name for studio camera operator, floor director and teleprompter operator. But he spent a lot of time in the sports department.

“I would practice sportscasts on the news desk and record them to send them off to various stations looking for sportscasters,” said Raita.

Raita landed a job doing sports in Knoxville, Tennessee. After Knoxville, he moved on to work at several other stations which included stations in Cincinnati and Columbus. Then, in 1996, Raita became sports director at the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, where he stayed until his contract was not renewed in 2017.

“I decided that was the end of the road for me in broadcast TV,” said Raita. “I was able to get a job with an advertising firm in Birmingham, and then in July 2020, took the job as executive director of the Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama.”

Recently, Raita was offered a position to serve as regional director for freshman U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville.

Mike Raita Book Cover“I had a good relationship with Senator Tuberville during the time he was the head football coach at Auburn University, and I was covering him and his team. That relationship continued after he left Auburn. He appreciated my work ethic, objectivity, and fairness,” said Raita. “I am one of five regional directors in the state of Alabama. My job is to be a liaison between Washington and the twelve counties I serve in central Alabama. With my longtime experience as a broadcaster in central Alabama, I feel the job is a natural fit because the leadership and citizens of the counties I serve feel like they know me.”

Raita has also written a self-published book about his media career called The Show Goes On.

“It has stories about how I got started and the big stories I covered. It was fun to write. It’s fun to look back,” said Raita. “When I look back on my time at Ohio University and WOUB, I remember that they taught you the right way to do things. I think that was really important.”