Bruce Cuthbertson headshot

Former WOUB news director taught students the importance of getting the story right

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Cuthbertson graduated from Ohio University in 1973

ATHENS, OH – Even though this is the first time a WOUB story has been written about him, Bruce Cuthbertson is a name that has been mentioned in many other WOUB student success stories. Cuthbertson was a student in the WOUB newsroom from the fall of 1971 to the spring of 1973 and then served as assistant news director and eventually news director from late 1973 to 1982.

“WOUB is a large part of who I am,” said Cuthbertson. “So many of my personal and professional relationships spring from WOUB.”

Cuthbertson grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio near Cleveland and remembers always having an interest in journalism.

“Growing up, when we listened to the radio and the news came on, a lot of friends would change the channel so they could hear more music, but I didn’t. I listened to news,” said Cuthbertson.

Ohio University had a strong reputation for journalism, so Cuthbertson decided to go to college in Athens. He thought he wanted to be a sports broadcast journalist. In the fall of his junior year, Cuthbertson learned that he could get professional, on-air experience as a student at WOUB.

“I went to an organizational meeting for the sports department in 1971,” said Cuthbertson. “And after that I was at WOUB all the time.”

Cuthbertson worked exclusively in sports as a student volunteer in both radio and television until the fall of 1972.  That’s when he was hired to a paid position to work as a news reporter over winter break.

“It was a great opportunity to work at WOUB full-time over break and get paid,” said Cuthbertson. “And I realized that I enjoyed doing news.”

After graduation in 1973, Cuthbertson was hired to work in the newsroom at WHIZ in Zanesville. It was a radio and television station like WOUB, where he had the opportunity to learn and do everything. But it wasn’t long until Cuthbertson was called back home.

“I was hired as a professional staff member at WOUB in late 1973,” said Cuthbertson. “I was the assistant news director, and I learned so much from working with the news director, John Chalfant. I was responsible for opening the newsroom every day at 5:45 a.m. and managing the newsroom through the mornings, and generally anchored our biggest newscast of the day, the 15-minute one at 7:30 a.m.”

Chalfant left WOUB in 1977, and that’s when Cuthbertson became news director. Cuthbertson knew WOUB provided an important news and information service to an underserved region and a vital training ground for future media professionals. He admits to being tough on the students because it was crucial that they get the stories right to provide accurate information to the public.

“I was tough. Was it sometimes a little over the line? Yes. Was it effective? Hell yes.”

“One student, Paula Shugart, tells a story about me where she would come over and ask me to review a story she’d written, and I’d say, ‘Are you sure you are ready for me to look at this? Is everything right?’ and she’d say, ‘Yes’ and I’d say, “If I put a gun to your head, would you be sure everything was right?’ and she’d say, “Okay, let me look at it again,’” Cuthbertson said with a laugh. “She says I taught her the ‘gun to your head management approach.’”

After working as a professional in the WOUB newsroom for nine years, Cuthbertson got an opportunity to become the communications director for John Kasich, who was running for congress at the time. Cuthbertson was granted a leave of absence from WOUB to work on the campaign.

“Kasich was the only challenging Republican that year to beat an incumbent Democrat and he asked me to go to Washington with him,” said Cuthbertson. “Right after the election, I returned to WOUB for several weeks, but then went to D.C. with Kasich in January of 1983.”

Cuthbertson worked for Kasich and his successor, Pat Tiberi, his entire congressional career. But he always held a place in his heart for WOUB.

“When the Bobcat basketball team came to the D.C. area to play Navy, I phoned a report on the game back to Athens. Once a sports reporter, always a sports reporter,” said Cuthbertson. “WOUB is a special place. We were really fortunate to have such a good, hardworking group of professionals and students who wanted to do great work.”