The Mendenhalls standing in front of their home

WOUB Member Spotlight: Keith and Kara Mendenhall

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The Mendenhalls have been WOUB donors since 1996

ATHENS, OH – Kara and Keith Mendenhall are passionate about many things. They love their coffee. As a matter of fact, they have their own espresso bar in their Sugar Grove home. They love baseball. Keith played in high school and was a little league umpire, and they are both giant fans of the Cleveland Indians. And they love NPR, a passion that was ignited by Kara’s mother.

“I grew up in northeastern Ohio near Akron, Ohio,” said Kara. “My mom was a big donor up there for WKSU. When she got up in the morning, the first thing she did was turn on NPR. Now, I find myself doing the exact same thing.”

“That’s exactly what she does. Gets up. Puts on NPR,” said Keith laughing. “Being a part of and supporting the station is kind of just a thing we do.”

Keith grew up near Wooster, Ohio and met Kara when they attended Capital University in Columbus. While in Columbus, Kara became a member of WOSU. Then Keith, who was a respiratory therapist, got offered a position as director of Cardiopulmonary Services at Doctor’s Hospital in Nelsonville, and they moved to Sugar Grove. That’s when the Mendenhalls discovered WOUB.

“WOUB and NPR are great organizations,” said Keith. “They give me news. They are not trying to influence me. Reporters give me the facts and tell me to make up my own mind.”

“We love the news, Science Friday, BBC, All Things Considered and Morning Edition,” said Kara. “We also love the entertainment programming like Wait Wait….Don’t Tell Me! and the Bluegrass music programs on the weekends.”

The Mendenhalls have been members and supporters of WOUB Public Media since 1996. Kara also continues to be a member of WKSU and WOSU.

“The mission and educational work of public media is so important,” said Kara. “And it’s crucially important for WOUB to be a part of this region. It’s so necessary for the people here to have access to the news and information, and it’s an important outlet for the local music of this area to be heard.”

“Ohio University and WOUB are like an oasis in the middle of the desert,” said Keith. “I encourage everyone to come get a drink and understand.”

The Mendenhalls have also passed their love of WOUB and public media down to their three adult children. Their son played the stand-up bass in the Hocking River String Band and in other Bluegrass groups. Their oldest daughter is married, lives in Kent, and as a member of WKSU volunteers for their fundraising initiatives. And their youngest daughter did an internship with NPR in Washington D.C.

“Our children appreciate WOUB and NPR,” said Kara. “I value the fact that when there is a developing story, NPR says that’s what it is. If something changes as the story develops, it’s corrected. NPR reporters are looking at themselves and doing as much as they can to represent the listeners. We just appreciate the in-depth way NPR does things.”

Kara worked as a high school language arts teacher for many years. So, she and Keith also see the value in the student professional development training that WOUB offers.

“College students grow as journalists and media professionals at WOUB. We get to see and hear them learn and yes, sometimes make mistakes,” said Keith laughing. “But Walter Cronkite made those same mistakes. Practice is crucial for the development of skills.”

Keith, who now works at Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, says he listens to WOUB all the time on his way to work. It’s a habit he’s had for years.

“NPR is the closest thing to the truth that you can find,” said Keith.

“We are proud supporters of WOUB and public media,” added Kara.