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Jaime Baker breaks down barriers to become a “Woman of Impact”

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Baker majored in broadcast journalism and graduated from Ohio University in 2009

ATHENS, OH – When Jaime Baker came to Athens from the Pittsburgh area in 2005, she had her sights set on a career as a sports broadcast journalist. Considering there weren’t very many women in broadcast sports roles at the time, that goal had many challenges. But Baker, who is currently the main news anchor at WTOV TV in Steubenville, Ohio, didn’t let that stop her. As a matter of fact, she says, it was not a challenge she even acknowledged.

“The summer between my 7th and 8th grade year of middle school I knew I wanted to be involved in sports. I thought about becoming a sports attorney or agent, but I realized I was not a confrontational person. Then one night I was watching ESPN, and I thought I could do this,” said Baker. “I knew I was going to have to work a little bit harder and put my nose to the grindstone. But I felt I worked well with men, and I built up thick skin pretty quickly.”

Baker chose to study journalism at Ohio University for a couple of reasons: the strong reputation of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and her dad.

“My dad was an Ohio University graduate, and when I knew I wanted to study journalism, my dad thought I should check out Ohio University,” said Baker. “We got to Athens on a Friday in October. It was the most gorgeous day of all time. I immediately knew. I fell in love at first sight.”

It wasn’t long after Baker arrived on campus during the fall of her freshman year that she learned about the opportunity to get real-world, hands-on experience at a professional media station.

“When I found out about WOUB I went to a meeting at the station for student volunteers. It was about my second week of school,” said Baker. “By the third week, I was going out to cover football games for WOUB TV’s high school football program Gridiron Glory.”

Baker worked at WOUB all four years of her college career. In addition to her work as a reporter on Gridiron Glory, Baker was a sports anchor on WOUB TV’s nightly news program, NewsWatch.

“During my senior year, I remember WOUB’s news managing editor at the time, Cheri Russo, told me I had to do news anchoring as well because it would be good for me to have that experience. We fought about it,” said Baker with a laugh. “But when I made the transition from sports to news in my career in 2018, I realized she was right. Doing news at WOUB helped make the transition a lot easier.”

When Baker graduated, she started out as the weekend sports anchor and reporter at WOWK in Charleston, West Virginia before moving on to become sports director at WVVA in Bluefield, West Virginia. It was a sports leadership role that Baker was excited to accept but didn’t realize that she was breaking new ground.

“I was the first ever female sports director in that market,” said Baker. “I didn’t learn that until I had been doing the job for a couple of years. And it was never an issue. I loved WVVA. It was a place where people accepted me, and I figured out who I was as a person and broadcaster. I learned how I wanted that to come across on air.”

Baker left WVVA after three years for a weekend sports anchor and reporter position at WTAJ in Altoona, Pennsylvania. But, after three and a half years there, Baker realized she needed to make a change.

“My first niece was born, and I wanted to be closer to home and more available as she grew up. I thought that one way I could do that was by switching to news. So I reached out to a friend in Steubenville,” said Baker. “He told me about an opening for a news reporter position, and I got it. I worked my way up as a reporter and was a bureau chief for about three and a half years, before taking over the news anchor job two years ago.”

In the news anchor role, Baker still has opportunities to report news and cover sports.

“I have covered big stories like the East Palestine train derailment, and I have very good relationships with U.S. senators and congress people. My true passion is being out there with people,” said Baker. “Our station also broadcasts live high school games. So, I also had an opportunity recently to be the color analyst for a high school girls basketball game. It was really fun.”

And Baker enjoys using her role to help her community. Baker was recently nominated as a “Woman of Impact” for the American Heart Association’s Woman of Impact Campaign. During the nine-week competition, Baker is competing with five other women to generate financial support for women’s heart health.

“WOUB gave me the building blocks to know what I had to do to be successful. I understood that I had to build relationships and go all in when it came to stories,” said Baker. “WOUB gave me the confidence I needed when I was getting out into the real world. So many people don’t get the experience that WOUB provides. I walked out of the Radio and TV Building steps ahead of where I needed to be and with the confidence to succeed.”