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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

I-Team: Inmates getting tax returns

An I-Team investigation has uncovered how prison inmates have managed to defraud the tax system out of millions of dollars through bogus income tax filings and why authorities have found it nearly impossible to stop. Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said fraudulent filings overall have increased dramatically from $8 million ...

Getting reimbursed for pothole damage is not as easy as one might think.

I-team: The cost of pothole claims

Do you think getting reimbursed for pothole damage to your car is going to be easy? Think again. An I-Team investigation found people who reported damage to their cars often wound up fighting government bureaucracy and came away with nothing to show for it. John Grace, a Jefferson Township small ...

Elizabeth Jackson holds a photo of her daughter Christina. Christina was killed by a drunk driver.

I-Team investigates DUI crash hot spots

OVI activity maps Explore maps of Ohio State Highway Patrol OVI enforcement activities in area counties by clicking the links below. Maps show locations of OVI stops, OVI-related injury crashes and OVI-related fatal crashes so far in 2014. Auglaize County Champaign County Clark County Darke County Greene County Logan County ...

School hallways empty out when a bomb threat is discovered but what's the cost of managing these threats?

The real cost of school bomb threats

A growing number of local school districts are being disrupted by bomb threats. Even though they have all turned out to be hoaxes, they have become an increasing burden on taxpayers. Rebecca Rine of Kettering never imagined that she and her daughter would have to deal with a bomb threat ...

Funding for lead paint removal limited

Dwindling federal funds for lead paint abatement are putting local communities in a bind. The city of Springfield's funding is set to be depleted next year and Dayton's program has already run out of cash. "Funds are tightening up and requirements are getting a little bit more restrictive," said Ed ...

This July 22 file photo shows Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans’ long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays. The action comes as the Senate is set to vote Tuesday to confirm former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new VA secretary, replacing Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson. (AP Photo)

Former Procter & Gamble chair confirmed to lead VA

President Barack Obama hailed the Senate’s confirmation of Robert McDonald as secretary of the troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, saying the former Procter & Gamble chairman is “uniquely qualified” to “change the way the VA does business.”Shortly after the Senate voted Tuesday, 97-0, to approve the nomination, Obama said ...

I-Team: Investigation finds neighborhood disputes cost taxpayers

A long running dispute among neighbors along Sintz Road has Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly searching for some way to end their verbal battles. "We are perplexed. We do not know what else to do," said Kelly. For more than a year, eight families have made repeated 9-1-1 calls to ...

Miami Valley's Most Dangerous Roads

The parents of a teenager killed in a car crash that also took the lives of two other teens have a message for people who drive country roads. Suzanne Luthe and Gary Osborn are reminding drivers that local roads may be familiar to drivers, but they can still be dangerous. ...

Cell Phones: A Growing Security Threat in Ohio's Prisons

I-Team Reporter Jim Otte investigates how inmates are getting their hands on cell phones in Ohio's toughest prisons. Complete story: How inmates are smuggling cell phones inside prisons, behind-the-scenes video, and more.

Unclaimed IRS money for Ohio

DAYTON - It sounds too good to be true. Washington is holding millions of dollars for people around Ohio in the form of unclaimed refunds. The I-Team has learned the claim is true and the money really is waiting to be claimed.  Jennifer Jenkins of the Internal Revenue Service said ...

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