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Jim Otte

News Center 7 Reporter

Jim Otte has been investigating government spending since joining WHIO-TV in 1988.   A native of Cincinnati, Otte began his career at radio stations in Oxford, Hamilton and Columbus. During that time he covered Ohio politics for National Public Radio. At WHIO-TV, he began the "Wastebusters" segment on Channel 7, focusing on waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers' money throughout the Miami Valley. As a member of the I-Team, Otte enjoys interviewing the people who are impacted by government spending decisions. He is a two-time winner of the Ohio Associated Press "Best Reporter Award," in 2009 and 2012. Jim and his wife, Cindy, have three children.  Q & A   How did you get into broadcast journalism?   It all began at a little radio station in Oxford, Ohio. While I was a student at Miami University, I fell in love with the news business. Like much else in life, it is an acquired taste. It was a departure from my upbringing in the quiet suburbs of Cincinnati. On the news beat, days are often filled with politics and personalities, courts and criminals, floods and fires. I thought, "What better way to be a part of history than to spend a lifetime watching it happen and telling other people all about it?" From college, I moved to commercial radio in Oxford and Hamilton. Later I moved closer to the action in Columbus. I began covering the Ohio Statehouse in late 1982.   I have seen a lot of Governors come and go. Who was my favorite to cover? Dick Celeste. He knew how to communicate, whether the news was good or bad. After six years with the Public Radio and TV Bureau at the Statehouse, I joined WHIO-TV. Over the years, my most memorable story has been the Lucasville prison riot. I spent the better part of two weeks standing in a field outside the prison as troopers and national guardsmen tried to figure out what to do next.   I tell people wherever I go; the best part of the job is meeting people who have grown up watching Channel 7. They are an amazing bunch of people. Also, along the way, I have been blessed to win my share of awards from the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists.   Yes, the news is not often very enjoyable. But I've always thought that reporters get to see people at their very best, too. That's the part that keeps me going.   And between stories I do have a private life. When I'm not paddling my kayak on a lake or stream in Ohio, I'm taking my teenage son to a sporting event. He runs Cross Country, and plays soccer, and volleyball. My wife and I have two daughters who are in college. The middle daughter is at the University of Cincinnati. The oldest is at Miami.   Visiting her gives me an excuse to get back on campus from time to time, look at the campus radio tower and drift back to the where it all began.    Where were you born?  Cincinnati. The west side is filled with my immediate family and countless cousins, aunts and uncles.  Where did you grow up?  Cincinnati. Monfort Heights, to be exact. It's a Western Hills suburb.  What was your favorite TV show then?  If it was on TV in the 60's, it was my favorite. From news and sports to Hogan's Heroes.  What was the first thing you ever wanted to be?  A carpenter, like my dad.  How might someone have described you in high school?  Geek. And they would be correct.  What was your first job?  I worked for my dad's company in high school and college. Carpenter, roofer, truck driver, crane operator and a lot of other things.  What was your first job in television?  My first job in TV was floor director for the university station. My first paying job was reporter for the Public TV Bureau at the Ohio Statehouse.   What do you like about your job?  You never know where this job will take you or who you will talk to throughout the day. I've interviewed big names in politics and sports. I've met a lot of great people along the way who have made this job a real adventure.  What do you not like about your job?  I spend a lot of time away from my family.   What might people be surprised to know about you?  I broke my arm playing soccer in an adult recreation league in the mid-90s. I returned to play another season, but was forced into retirement by my wife.   What is the hardest thing you ever did?  One of the many hard things you have to do on rare occasions as a reporter is approach the family members of a victim involved in a terrible tragedy. I try my best to respect people's privacy.   What would be a perfect day for you?  My perfect day is breaking a big story, beating the competition, going home to get my kayak and hit the water with my family.   What advice would you have for someone wanting to go into the business?  Be ready for anything. Joy, sadness, triumph and tragedy.   If you could only keep one 5-minute tape from your career what would be on it?  The Lucasville prison riot of 1993. I spent a lot of time there during the riot and afterwards. Being a part of history is one of the best parts of this job.

Latest from Jim Otte

Congressman Turner says he’s disappointed in Trump’s response to Charlottesville
 With two local civil rights leaders at his side, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Wednesday denounced racism in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and expressed disappointment with how President Donald Trump has responded to the turmoil there. Turner said in strong terms that there is no room for racist hatred in the Dayton community...

11:09 PM Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017

With two local civil rights leaders at his side, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Wednesday denounced racism in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and expressed disappointment with how President Donald Trump has responded to the turmoil there. Turner said in strong terms that there is no room for racist hatred in the Dayton community...
Area businesses try to get ahead of Ohio marijuana issue
 With just over a year to go before medical marijuana becomes legally available in Ohio, employers are already updating their drug policies to cover workers on the job. Traditionally, company drug and alcohol policies have prohibited anyone from having illegal drugs like marijuana in their system. But what happens when that drug becomes legal?...

3:34 PM Thursday, Aug. 03, 2017

With just over a year to go before medical marijuana becomes legally available in Ohio, employers are already updating their drug policies to cover workers on the job. Traditionally, company drug and alcohol policies have prohibited anyone from having illegal drugs like marijuana in their system. But what happens when that drug becomes legal?...
Lost emergency calls reported with some phone systems
 In an emergency, your phone can be the difference between life and death. However, our investigation found that some phone systems may actually mislead first responders and send them miles away from your home. That is what happened to Rick Fankhauser after he purchased voice over internet or Viop phone service for his house.  "I...

9:24 PM Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017

In an emergency, your phone can be the difference between life and death. However, our investigation found that some phone systems may actually mislead first responders and send them miles away from your home. That is what happened to Rick Fankhauser after he purchased voice over internet or Viop phone service for his house.  "I...
Ohio executes Ronald Phillips; first execution in 3 years
 For the first time in more than three years, the state of Ohio has executed a death row inmate. State officials executed Ronald Phillips by lethal injection this morning officially at 10:43 a.m. at a state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus. The execution ended a lull following an unusually drawn-out execution that relied...

7:46 AM Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2017

For the first time in more than three years, the state of Ohio has executed a death row inmate. State officials executed Ronald Phillips by lethal injection this morning officially at 10:43 a.m. at a state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus. The execution ended a lull following an unusually drawn-out execution that relied...
City program takes heat as homes stay vacant
 A Dayton program that places run-down properties into the hands of new owners who promise to fix them up is taking heat from frustrated neighbors. Some of the properties have been sitting for years awaiting renovation. Homeowner Larry Hollar has seen his neighborhood suffer as a brick building at 115 East Norman Avenue, obtained by the city...

6:29 PM Sunday, Jul. 16, 2017

A Dayton program that places run-down properties into the hands of new owners who promise to fix them up is taking heat from frustrated neighbors. Some of the properties have been sitting for years awaiting renovation. Homeowner Larry Hollar has seen his neighborhood suffer as a brick building at 115 East Norman Avenue, obtained by the city...
City blames spell check for Kettering veteran memorial error
 A mistake in the text on Kettering’s Veterans Memorial at Delco Park has been fixed. Two granite slabs at the park improperly referred to the World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy, France as “Operation Overload,” when in fact the correct name was “Operation Overlord.”  The city of Kettering blamed the...

6:44 PM Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017

A mistake in the text on Kettering’s Veterans Memorial at Delco Park has been fixed. Two granite slabs at the park improperly referred to the World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy, France as “Operation Overload,” when in fact the correct name was “Operation Overlord.”  The city of Kettering blamed the...
The cost of housing teen felons
 The juvenile justice system in Ohio is changing from teen felons being kept in large state-run prisons to smaller but still secure facilities scattered around the state. One of those sites is in New Lebanon with 50 beds for juvenile offenders. Michael Garrett, Director of the Center for Adolescent Services, said the facility is designed to...

9:23 PM Tuesday, May. 16, 2017

The juvenile justice system in Ohio is changing from teen felons being kept in large state-run prisons to smaller but still secure facilities scattered around the state. One of those sites is in New Lebanon with 50 beds for juvenile offenders. Michael Garrett, Director of the Center for Adolescent Services, said the facility is designed to...
Kettering war memorial error will be fixed, city says
 The city of Kettering says it will fix an error on a war memorial at Delco Park. The large stone display on the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France refers to "Operation Overload." In fact,the invasion was actually dubbed "Operation Overlord."  A city spokesperson told News Center 7 they are aware of the error and will...

3:55 PM Monday, May. 15, 2017

The city of Kettering says it will fix an error on a war memorial at Delco Park. The large stone display on the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France refers to "Operation Overload." In fact,the invasion was actually dubbed "Operation Overlord."  A city spokesperson told News Center 7 they are aware of the error and will...
Undercover agents find funeral home pricing violations
 You may be surprised to learn that the Federal Government is sending secret shoppers into funeral homes here in the Miami Valley. The agents are tracking sales practices and in some cases, they are finding violations of the pricing rules designed to protect consumers. It's part of a little-known program that is supposed to help people at...

9:29 PM Monday, May. 01, 2017

You may be surprised to learn that the Federal Government is sending secret shoppers into funeral homes here in the Miami Valley. The agents are tracking sales practices and in some cases, they are finding violations of the pricing rules designed to protect consumers. It's part of a little-known program that is supposed to help people at...
Dayton dog attack: Lawmaker to continue push for stronger penalties for dog owners
 After a piece of legislation that would have strengthened state law governing dangerous dogs failed to pass the Ohio House last year, a local lawmaker vows to reintroduce the bill. “Ohio’s laws could probably stand some improvement to help prevent some of these [dog attacks],” state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said following...

6:51 PM Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2017

After a piece of legislation that would have strengthened state law governing dangerous dogs failed to pass the Ohio House last year, a local lawmaker vows to reintroduce the bill. “Ohio’s laws could probably stand some improvement to help prevent some of these [dog attacks],” state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said following...
Urbana state lawmaker joins Ohio conservatives with message for Trump
 An Urbana lawmaker has a message for President Donald Trump: Quit criticizing conservatives for their stance on health care reform. State Rep. Nino Vitale, R- Urbana, and about a dozen other Ohio conservatives penned a letter to the White House making the request. DETAILS: President Trump issues threat to Freedom Caucus It came in response...

12:00 AM Saturday, Apr. 01, 2017

An Urbana lawmaker has a message for President Donald Trump: Quit criticizing conservatives for their stance on health care reform. State Rep. Nino Vitale, R- Urbana, and about a dozen other Ohio conservatives penned a letter to the White House making the request. DETAILS: President Trump issues threat to Freedom Caucus It came in response...