Tom and Jan Hodson Headshot

Member Spotlight: Tom and Jan Hodson

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The Hodsons have been involved with WOUB for four decades

ATHENS, OH – Tom and Jan Hodson have been members of WOUB since 1984. But their involvement with and support of the station go back much farther than that.

“I grew up in The Plains and listened to WOUB growing up. It feels like it has always been a part of my life,” said Jan.

“I grew up in Dayton but came to Ohio University in the late 1960s to study journalism,” said Tom. “When I was an undergraduate, I remember seeing WOUB as competition because I worked for Ohio University’s student newspaper The Post. But after I left for law school and later returned to Athens, I started listening avidly to Morning Edition while I was getting ready for work, and that’s when I became a fan.”

After getting his law degree at Ohio State in 1973, Tom came back to Athens to start his law career which included time in private practice, and then he served as both a municipal and common pleas court judge. Jan’s early career was also in law. She worked as a paralegal in Athens County. The two married in 1979.

“After Jan and I got together, WOUB was fixture in our house. We listened all the time,” said Tom. “Then after I became a judge, I wrote a letter to WOUB because I was frustrated that there were programs about how to fix your car and gardening, but there wasn’t any programming explaining the legal system. I got a quick response asking if I would like to create programming like that. That resulted in my Legal Reminders segment where we took average legal terms and translated them for the general public. I used plain ordinary English and not legalese. I discovered how to combine my legal background with my journalism background and did 500 of those radio spots over a four-year period.”

Later in the early 1980s, Tom hosted public affairs programming on WOUB television. But he wasn’t the only WOUB on-air talent in the Hodson family.

“Over the years, I was asked to come up to the station and record testimonials about why I was an avid listener to WOUB,” said Jan. “When I was the vice president of the League of Women Voters, WOUB helped us with candidate’s nights which were broadcast. I also hosted Conversations from Studio B on WOUB AM and did a series of shows on what life was like on the Ohio University campus in the 1960s.”

“WOUB has given the community the opportunity to generate programming, both on the air, and now through podcasts,” said Tom. “WOUB has always been a place where people could come with good ideas and participate in innovative storytelling.”

While their support of WOUB never changed over their four decades of involvement with the station, both of their careers did. Tom and Jan moved into academia. In 2001, Tom became the director of the Mass Media Program at Marietta College before becoming director of the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2003 and eventually the Director and General Manager at WOUB in 2011. Jan got her master’s degree in child development and family studies at Ohio University in 1996 and became assistant dean of the Honors Tutorial College in 2001.

“In those roles we saw another side of WOUB,” said Tom. “We saw the opportunities for career development and growth that it provided for students, which is so important.”

“WOUB has always been a news source for me, first and foremost. It’s a place where I could listen to news and trust it. That goes way back,” said Jan. “I turned on so many of my students to NPR because when they would come into my office, I always had it on. I have had student’s come back years later and tell me they listened because I did.”

“In addition to the national and global perspective WOUB brings through PBS and NPR programming, the station makes a huge contribution to the region. It’s the sole source of news and regional information for a large part of the 55-county region it covers. It brings news, arts, and culture to the region,” said Tom. “And what WOUB contributes to the experiential learning of students while at Ohio University is also just terrific. To be able to be a part of that and support that in various ways has become really important to us as a family when we look at how to make our donations. WOUB is the top of the list for us because of how it contributes to the region and how it helps students and their careers.”