Tony Coles Headshot

iHeartMedia Division President Tony Coles says WOUB opened his eyes to career possibilities

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Coles worked at WOUB from 1987-1989

ATHENS, OH – When Tony Coles graduated from high school, he already had some media experience under his belt. Working at a local radio and TV station near his hometown helped him decide what he wanted to study in college.

“Like a lot of Ohio kids, I was trying to find a college in Ohio,” said Coles. “I took a tour of Ohio University and fell in love with Athens.”

Coles grew up in Blue Rock, a small town near Zanesville, Ohio. Staying in southeast Ohio for college felt like the right thing for him.

“I know Athens is a small town, but believe it or not, it’s bigger than where I grew up. So I felt like I was moving to a bigger city,” said Coles with a laugh. “Being from southeast Ohio, it felt like home from the start.”

It wasn’t long after Coles came to Athens that he discovered WOUB.

“I went uptown to the Radio and TV Building and walked in to WOUB, and I was blown away,” said Coles. “I decided right then and there that I would do anything and everything I could to be a part of this. I bugged professional staff members, and I was persistent. I started volunteering at the station. First I worked on WOUB AM, and eventually I was hired for a paid position to host Morning Edition on WOUB FM.”

Coles loved being on the air at WOUB. He was in awe of the fact that the station served such a large geographic area in three states.

“I just knew that meant this was a professional station that provided a needed service to the area. As a student, getting up that early to host Morning Edition was tough. But it was definitely worth it.”

After a couple of years at Ohio University and working at WOUB, Coles left Athens due to financial hardships.

“I had to get a full-time job,” said Coles. “The plan was to save money for a year and come back to Athens to finish my degree. But life happened, and I ended up finishing my degree at Marylhurst University several years later.”

However, Coles still considers himself very much a Bobcat and considers the foundation of his education and his career to be Ohio University and WOUB.

“When I left Athens, I was able to take the experience I had from WOUB and get a job right away at WCOL in Columbus.”

Over his career, Coles has held on-air, operations and program director positions at radio stations in Columbus, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Then in 2004, he accepted a regional vice president position at Clear Channel Radio, which later became iHeartMedia. Coles is now working in Chicago and has been with the company for 18 years. He was promoted several times and is now iHeartMedia’s Metro Division president and president of the Black Information Network.

“The Metro Division is comprised of 21 markets throughout the U.S.,” said Coles. “The Black Information Network is an all-news network designed to advance Black journalism within the company and media industry to create an unbiased source of news and information for the Black community.”

The Black Information Network is broadcast in any city with a 20% Black population or a Black population over 100,000.

“I am thankful for my experience at Ohio University and WOUB because it made this career possible for me,” said Coles. “I remember getting excited when I read the legal ID on the air at WOUB and read all the different call letters from across the region. It gave me a view of what was possible. It opened my eyes to the fact that the world was bigger, and I could do more.”