Alumni and Friends

WOUB Student Staff Support Fund helps senior student focus on gaining real-world media experience

For the last three and a half years, Nick Viland, who is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, has tried to balance his time between classes at Ohio University, volunteering in the WOUB newsroom and his paid job.

“It was tough,” said Viland, a senior news and information major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. “I wanted to spend as much time as I could outside of class volunteering at WOUB to learn and get professional, hands-on experience as a reporter and anchor, but I needed a paying job as well.”

Now he can focus on school and WOUB, thanks to the recently created NEIL MAHRER AND SONIA FRANCESKI WOUB STUDENT STAFF SUPPORT FUND. Viland was the first recipient of the fund which provides year-round support, in the form of wages and benefits, for students employed by WOUB Public Media.

“It’s awesome,” said Viland. “I’m now getting paid to learn how to be a multimedia journalist, which is what I want to do after I graduate.”

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 PBS stations, including WETA, WQED, WVIZ, WMHT, WJCT and WBAA. Franceski earned her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and her master's degree from MIT. She also did her Ph.D. studies at MIT. Franceski is currently employed in the United States Trade Relations (USTR) group of the White House. Both Mahrer and Franceski believe in the value of public broadcasting, today and in the future.

Before Viland was offered the paid position at WOUB, he was working in undergraduate admissions. And while he enjoyed the job, he knew he should be focusing more on his work at WOUB.

“I needed the money from undergraduate admissions for spending, but it was a lot. When I wasn’t in class, I had to work at undergraduate admissions and then in between try to fit in time to work on stories for WOUB. It was so difficult to try to balance all of that,” said Viland. “It was impacting my ability to do quality work. It was difficult to find time to be collaborative and focus on the journalism work I was doing at WOUB. Now I can do that.”

Viland says he’s had several job interviews over the last couple of weeks and knows the time spent at WOUB has given him the experience he needs to have a successful journalism career.

“I can’t say thanks enough to Mr. Mahrer and Ms. Franceski for giving young, driven journalism students the ability to make a little money while also being able to drive for a career that they really want to do. I can’t wait to see this fund move forward and grow,” said Viland. “I’m close to landing my first job, and I owe it all to WOUB. Ohio University has been great. My classes have been great. I would not be in the position I am right now with interviews and job opportunities post-graduation if it wasn’t for WOUB and Ohio University.”

The Student Staff Support Fund was established with $10,000. Additional contributions have already come in and may be made by any other donor who would like to support tomorrow’s media professionals today. The fund will also be featured on OHIO Giving Day on April 13. To give to the NEIL MAHRER AND SONIA FRANCESKI WOUB STUDENT STAFF SUPPORT FUND visit:

To learn more about WOUB, visit

March 28, 2022
Cheri Russo