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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

Tops on the list for the most violations in Montgomery County is the Liberty Motel, 4101 Keats Drive, right along Interstate 75 in Harrison Township. Coming in at number two, the North Plaza Inn at 3636 Dixie Drive. The 35 West Motel at 7040 West Third Street came in third and the Microtel Inn & Suites at 4500 Linden Avenue came in fourth. And number five on the list is the Ramada Inn Dayton North at 2301 Wagner Ford Road.

Health and safety violations at local hotels

An I-Team analysis of health and safety inspections of local hotels and motels has found five locations have the most violations, including unsanitary conditions, insects and rodents. Andrew Evans, a sanitarian with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, said all hotels in the county are closely inspected at least once ...

Jackson Township in Montgomery County is one of the area's safest communities.

The Miami Valley's Safest Communities

The safest communities in the Miami Valley, according to the most recent FBI Crime Reports, are mostly rural areas with a population of less than 4,000 people. The half-dozen communities at the top of the list had no violent crimes in 2013, with the Clark County village of South Charleston ...

The real cost of legalizing pot

The upcoming debate over plans to legalize marijuana in Ohio may focus less on the drug itself and more on how communities could benefit if marijuana is taxed and regulated. Supporters are already promoting the issue as one that will actually help police. Rob Ryan, President of the Ohio Chapter ...

Local schools continue to invest in security

More than two years after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Miami Valley schools are still investing in additional security to protect students and staff. Adam Lanza killed killed 20 students and six staff members before turning the gun on himself. This tragedy not only sent ...

Strickland rallying Democrats in Dayton Thursday

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who is running for U.S. Senate, will be in Dayton on Thursday speaking at a Montgomery County Democratic Party fundraiser.Seats are sold out for the Frolic for Funds, the county party’s main annual fundraising event, at the Dayton Convention Center at 6 p.m. Strickland is ...

Battle lines drawn over pot plan

A controversial proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana in Ohio is drawing flak from an unexpected source: pro-pot activists. Tonya Davis, a Kettering marijuana supporter who has sought a change in state law for more than a decade, said the amendment would be too controlling and give exclusive rights ...

I-Team investigates restaurant complaints

Dirty dishes, rodent droppings and bugs in the kitchen, those are some of the problems discovered by health inspectors in Miami Valley restaurants. The I-Team is tracking inspection reports to find the most common complaints and what health departments are doing about them. On a recent surprise inspection of a ...

I-Team: Surprises found in the state checkbook

Taxpayers are getting new tools to track where their money is being spent by the government at the state level and, in the case of one city in the Miami Valley, even in their local community. It began with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. He has put detailed spending records online ...

The cost of jailing the mentally ill

A growing number of inmates entering the Montgomery County jail are requiring mental health services, pushing up the cost to taxpayers. Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said the percentage of inmates with mental health issues increased from 18% to 26% in the last year alone and he fears it will ...

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 ...


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