Shelli Dankoo McClellan headshot

Shelli Dankoff McClellan blazed the trail for women in the WOUB sports department

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Graduated from Ohio University in 1984

ATHENS, OH – Shelli Dankoff McClellan came to Ohio University in 1980 originally with a focus on print journalism – she wanted to become the next Woodward or Bernstein. A visit to WOUB her first week on campus immediately changed her focus and along the way, Dankoff (as she is known professionally) also broke down barriers and blazed a new trail for women at WOUB.

“I grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and came to Athens because it was one of the top journalism schools in the country,” said Dankoff. “Another student from my town was interested in broadcasting and suggested we go to the WOUB orientation meeting. He was interested in sports, so I ended up being a part of both the news and sports meetings. By the time we were done with the sports meeting, they had assigned me a beat (women’s volleyball), and I had a weekly FM sportscast I was responsible for. So, I left the meeting working for the WOUB sports department.”

Dankoff was one of two women on the WOUB sports staff at the time.

“Female sportscasters were not the norm then,” said Dankoff. “But I always enjoyed sports, and I learned so much from the guys who I worked with on the staff. It was a great group – we’re still friends today.”

While Dankoff started out doing sportscasts on the radio at WOUB, she eventually moved in to anchoring news and sports for NewsWatch on WOUB TV.

After serving as statistician for the radio broadcasts of Ohio University football for two years, Dankoff auditioned to be the student color commentator in the spring of 1983 and was selected.

“That was a little crazy,” said Dankoff. “The Ohio University athletic director was not sold on a female doing color commentary. I still have the letter Mac (Harold McElhaney) sent me at the end of the season acknowledging I did a good job. That meant a lot that he took the time to do that.”

She also was named WOUB sports director during her senior year.

“One time I had a new WOUB sports student come in to get feedback from me. He was trying to be cleared to do play-by-play for the high school football games, and he asked me, ‘How did you get this job?’ because I was a woman. I gave him credit for actually asking the question! But my answer was clear – I earned it through hard work.”

In the summer between her junior and senior year, Dankoff got a sports internship at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. That internship eventually turned into a part-time weekend sports producer position while still attending Ohio University. However, after graduation, Dankoff decided to leave sports behind.

“I needed to pay the bills and put food on the table and there weren’t a lot of females doing sports. So, I started applying for news positions.”

She got news anchor and reporter jobs at stations in Rochester, Minnesota, Winston-Salem, North Carolina and two stations in Peoria, Illinois before moving out of television news in 1999. Now, Dankoff is the media relations supervisor for OSF HealthCare, a 15-hospital system headquartered in Peoria. In addition to other duties, she and her four-person team do stories for the OSF Newsroom, which offers content directly to journalists.

“I say all the time how it’s great that I get to work with media people doing the job I used to do! I loved television news, and I still miss it. But I needed to make a change for my family,” said Dankoff. “With every job I have had I came in well-prepared, and I credit that to my time at WOUB. I learned about writing and time management, and a broad range of skills. I trained behind the camera as well as in front of it. I got great experience there that I use to this day.”