Jacob Motta, Jessica Stelzer and Gabe Scotto
Photo Above (left to right): Jacob Motta, Jessica Stelzer and Gabe Scotto

WOUB Student Staff Support Fund helps three students focus on gaining real-world media experience

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Jacob Motta, Jessica Stelzer and Gabe Scotto are receiving the funding this year

ATHENS, OH – Jacob Motta, an Ohio University senior, Jessica Stelzer, an Ohio University junior, and Gabe Scotto, an Ohio University second-year graduate student, are now being paid to prepare for their future careers and gain professional media experience at WOUB, thanks to the NEIL MAHRER AND SONIA FRANCESKI WOUB STUDENT STAFF SUPPORT FUND.

Motta has volunteered at WOUB for the last three years. He is the 2022 host of WOUB’s high school football program Gridiron Glory, and also works on WOUB’s Hardwood Heroes, Bobcat Showcase, NewsWatch, and the brand-new Gridiron Glory Overtime podcast. Stelzer started working at WOUB in January of 2021 and is the lead producer and editor for NewsWatch. Scotto just started at WOUB in the summer of 2022. He currently works in the newsroom and helps to write and research stories.

“I had a job where I worked 16-20 hours on top of WOUB and schoolwork, so it was a lot to manage at once,” said Motta. “But being paid now at WOUB allowed me to resign from that job and commit to WOUB full time which has been great.”

“The paid position at WOUB helps me because now I am supported financially,” said Stelzer. “Now that I am getting paid, I don’t have to give up time in my schedule for another part-time job, and I can instead focus on my academics and the work I do for WOUB’s NewsWatch.”

“I like being paid at WOUB because it means I can get experience in my field without having to sacrifice my financial well-being. I rely on my paycheck from WOUB to pay my bills and as a means of helping to pay my tuition fees,” said Scotto. “Working at WOUB has also helped me to realize that I no longer have to settle for jobs outside of my field and that I can receive compensation for my writing and research skills once I have graduated.”

The recently created NEIL MAHRER AND SONIA FRANCESKI WOUB STUDENT STAFF SUPPORT FUND provides year-round support, in the form of wages and benefits, for students employed by WOUB Public Media.  Mahrer, who is a former PBS executive, worked at WOUB while he was a student at Ohio University to hone his broadcasting skills and learn about the media industry. He graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts focused on general speech, TV/Radio and Theatre. Mahrer had a very successful career after leaving Athens, serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer at PBS during his 17-year tenure with the organization. Mahrer has also held positions at some of the nation’s premier NPR and PBS stations, including WETA, WQED, WVIZ, WMHT, WJCT and WBAA. Both Mahrer and his wife, Franceski, believe in the value of public broadcasting, today and in the future.

“It is inspiring to know people believe so much in the work that WOUB does, and it makes me proud to be a part of this community,” said Stelzer. “I also think about how in the future I want to do the same in giving back to WOUB for everything I have learned.”

“This job is how I pay my rent, pay for groceries, and really any other expense I have at Ohio University other than tuition,” said Motta. “To the donors who created and support this fund, the biggest thing I can say is, ‘Thank You.’ Without the fund, I would be stretching myself thin this semester trying to make money and be as involved as I am at WOUB. The fund allows me to put most of my time into being the best host I can be and try to help the people around me become the best that they can be.”

“I would like to thank Neil Mahrer and Sonia Franceski for creating this fund and WOUB for being willing to take a chance on me and to give me the opportunity to continue putting my talents to use. As a student with disabilities (autism), I was happy that somebody out there wanted to give me a chance,” said Scotto. “I often feel as though I’m not granted the same opportunities as other students, so it means a lot to me when I get these breaks.”

The WOUB Student Staff Support Fund was established in 2021 and since that time more than 50 additional contributions have been made to the fund from Ohio University alumni and supporters of the WOUB student experience.

“We are so thankful to Neil and Sonia for establishing this fund to support students at WOUB and to all who have contributed to it so far,” said WOUB General Manager Mark Brewer. “As the fund continues to grow, we’ll be able to cast a wider net and offer more students paid positions in order for them to truly focus on the careers they are hopeful to engage in after graduation.”

If you’d like to support tomorrow’s media professionals today, you can give to the NEIL MAHRER AND SONIA FRANCESKI WOUB STUDENT STAFF SUPPORT FUND by visiting: