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Ann Alquist graduated from Ohio University in 2009
ATHENS, OH –Ann Alquist is now the executive director and general manager at WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama. But her career in public media has taken many different twists and turns, thanks in part to a stop at Ohio University and WOUB Public Media. In 2008, Alquist came to Athens as part of a graduate communications program.
“The idea behind the program was to inspire and elevate the roles of women and people of color in public media,” said Alquist.
Alquist grew up near Frankfurt, Germany. Her American parents were schoolteachers at the Frankfurt International School. In 1996, Alquist moved back to the United States to attend Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She studied literature at the liberal arts college and graduated in 1999.
After graduation, Alquist eventually moved to Minneapolis and got a job working for State Services for the Blind helping those who were blind to learn technology. She eventually started volunteering at a small public radio station and discovered an interested in journalism.
“Because the station relied on community volunteers to produce news and music programming, I got a lot of opportunities,” said Alquist. “The very first person I ever interviewed as a reporter was then-Minnesota House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty.” Pawlenty eventually became governor of Minnesota and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
In 2001, Alquist took a position as news director at KFAI radio, a public broadcasting station, in Minneapolis. After five years in that role, she applied for and received a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany.
“I did research on the German healthcare system in Berlin and learned about the German media landscape by reporting and producing for German public and commercial media outlets,” said Alquist.
When Alquist came back to the United States in 2008, it was not the best time to be job hunting.
“The economy was in the tank,” said Alquist. “The mortgage crisis was gripping the nation, and I thought it would be a good time to go back to school. I learned about the public media graduate program at Ohio University and went to Athens.”
As part of her graduate assistantship, Alquist worked at WOUB.
“It was a great opportunity to learn about the television side of public media news,” said Alquist. “I took the opportunity to work in the WOUB Newsroom and work with cameras and video. I also helped with radio news in the newsroom over winter break.”
After graduating from Ohio University in 2009, Alquist did some adjunct teaching at a couple of colleges before landing a position as Community Engagement Coordinator at the Twin Cities Media Alliance. She also made stops at Alaska Public Media as director of membership and Rhode Island Public Radio as chief progress officer and then assistant general manager before moving into her current role in Alabama.
“The recruiter who was managing the Alabama job search came to me and told me about the station’s really great culture. The town is at an interesting point in its history, and I was excited to have an opportunity to be a part of that,” said Alquist. “We have a way to go with women and people of color in leadership positions in public media. I think we are at a moment in public media stations where we need a different type of leadership that is sensitive to multicultural communities and dynamics. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
Alquist says the things she learned at Ohio University from professors like Greg Newton and Eric Williams and her time at WOUB are important to the public media leader she is today.
“Those professors and the leadership at WOUB let me look at and talk about crazy topics and explore,” said Alquist. “My time in Athens provoked me to peek around the corner to look at where media is going and figure out how I could be a part of making it better.”