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John Popovich's legendary sports career began at WOUB

John Popovich is a Cincinnati television sports legend who worked for 40 years before retiring in 2019. But Popo says his legendary career began at his WOUB in Athens, Ohio, as it’s known in the Queen City.

“The WOUB Newsroom professional staff treated student volunteers like employees,” says Popovich. “They asked you to do something and they expected you to get it done and you were held accountable. It was really good preparation for a career in media.”

Popovich graduated from Struthers High School near Youngstown, Ohio in 1969 and worked at the student-run radio station WKTL.

“We had news, weather, music, and we were able to do live coverage of sporting events,” Popovich said. “I thought this was great.”

So when it came time to choose a college, Ohio University was a perfect fit for Popovich for several reasons.

“Both of my brothers attended Ohio University, so they were already familiar with the place,” Popovich said. “I knew this school had a great reputation for communication, and that was what I wanted to study, so it was perfect.”

From his experience at WKTL, when Popovich stepped into WOUB, the telecommunications giant thought he knew everything there was to know about radio. However, he soon discovered that this was not the case.

“WOUB was an eye-opening experience,” said Popovich. “When I got to WOUB, I realized I knew nothing.”

Popovich enjoyed covering sports, but realized during college that there were more career opportunities in the news industry. So Popovich had a news job at WOUB.

“The professional staff, Doug Caldwell and John Chalfant, were open to whatever I wanted to do,” said Popovich. “I worked on a morning radio show with my alumnus Don Benson. During my time at WOUB, I mainly did radio. I did a little bit of TV.

“WOUB really prepared me for the real world, and the expectations of my students were high,” says John Popovich.

After graduating in 1973, Popovich took a job in radio news in Dubuque, Iowa. He then moved to the WOC in Davenport, Iowa.

“WOC was a radio and television station, so that’s when I stepped into the world of television,” Popovich said. “I was originally in charge of news, but after about three years, the sports director quit.The news director asked me if I was interested in doing sports. I was more athletic than usual, and I found that suited my temperament. That’s when I started playing sports.”

In 1979, Popovich was recruited by Cincinnati’s WCPO, which was the final stop in his career.

“I was hired by WCPO to do sports features, mostly for high school and college students,” says Popovich. “A humorous profile, a sentimental profile.

About a year after Popovich was with WCPO, the station asked Popovich to start a Sunday night show at 11:30 pm called Sports of All Thought.

“I started hosting the show in 1980 and became the sports director a few years later,” Popovich said.

Popovich hosted the program for 33 years, spending the rest of his time at WCPO as the weekday 6pm and 11pm sports anchor. He retired in 2019.

Popovich is very proud of his career and appreciates the solid foundation he has built at WOUB.

“WOUB really prepared me for the real world. There were high expectations of the students,” said Popovich. “The other thing is that WOUB was the first time I was surrounded by so many good people. I learned from each and every one of my fellow students and professional staff.It was invaluable.”

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