Mike Hammer Headshot

AP Broadcast News Editor Mike Hammer learned vital writing skills at WOUB

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Mike Hammer graduated from Ohio University in 1978

ATHENS, OH – Mike Hammer’s career has included flying on Air Force One multiple times with three different presidents. It’s a career that he credits to the strong foundation he got working as a student at WOUB Public Media while in college.

“I had a chance to do a lot at WOUB,” said Hammer. “All of the things I did at WOUB prepared me for my career. You need to be able to tell a story in as many ways as possible. You need the broadest range of experience that you can possibly have, and that’s what I had at WOUB.”

Hammer grew up in Long Island, New York. He moved to Akron, Ohio during his senior year in high school. From an early age, Hammer was always interested in news and broadcasting. His dad listened to all news radio stations while in the car, and Hammer was known among the parents of friends as the child who could talk about events going on in the world.

“I was interested in current events and knew I wanted to study journalism. Friends told me that Ohio University had a great journalism school,” said Hammer. “I visited campus and felt at home there, and I decided that’s where I would go.”

When Hammer arrived on campus, he worked at the radio station in his dormitory and then started working at ACRN. By his junior year, Hammer found his way to WOUB.

Mike Hammer on NewsWatch set
Hammer on left anchoring “NewsWatch” in 1978

“I did radio reporting and anchoring. I also recorded film for television,” said Hammer. “By the time I was a senior, I was anchoring NewsWatch on WOUB TV. WOUB was such a good fit for me. It gave me good preparation for a career in broadcasting along with a wide range of experiences and knowledge.”

After graduation in 1978, Hammer began work at a radio station in Greenwich, Connecticut where he anchored public affairs programs and reported on government and politics. During that time, Hammer realized his strengths were writing and editing. He was eventually offered a position working for the Associated Press (AP) Broadcast Desk in New York City.

In 1983, Hammer moved to Washington D.C. when AP merged the broadcast wire with the AP Radio Network. Hammer became the broadcast news editor.

“That opportunity allowed me to get a wide range of experience covering different kinds of stories,” said Hammer. “I filled in as the White House Reporter a few times, and that’s when I flew on Air Force One. I flew with Ronald Reagan. I flew with George H.W. Bush, and I also flew with Bill Clinton.”

Mike Hammer at convention
Hammer (right) covering DNC in 2000

Hammer also was involved in AP’s broadcast wire coverage of September 11 and covered the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 2000. Hammer is now what he calls “semi-retired.” A few years ago, he started working on the AP feature for print and broadcast called Today in History.

Today in History is the most widely used AP feature. There are a lot of eyes on it,” said Hammer. “I go through AP archives and find the event that was the highlight from that day.”

“When I try to look back at 2020, that is so time consuming and such a challenge to pick out one event that was the highlight from this day. There were so many things going on with COVID, George Floyd and the presidential election campaign. Every day of 2020 has more going on than any other year.  For many dates in 2020, I must list more than one thing, and even then, I feel like I have to leave out something.”

Hammer didn’t know where his career was going to take him when he was working at WOUB, but says the skills he learned there put him on the path to career success.

“One of the best things I learned at WOUB and Ohio University that served me well was the ability to write for broadcast,” said Hammer. “There is a difference between writing for print and writing for broadcast. At Ohio University and WOUB, I learned to write in a conversational way that was friendly to the ear. That was so important.”