EATON — On a small farm along U.S. 40 in Preble County, a little girl threw a handful of feed to her family’s flock of chickens along with her sisters. It was one of the first chores of the day. Next would come feeding the horse and sheep, then later on they would all descend on the enormous garden, tending to it as a family. It was the early 1970s, and the little girl mentioned above had no idea that one day, rather than tending a garden, she would be tending to one of the largest media companies in the United States.
Donna Hall was born in 1966, with four older sisters, Bev, Pam, Sherry and Annette, and one younger sister, Mandy. Donna’s parents made it a priority to teach her and her sisters from a young age to be people of faith, act with integrity, and never be above hard work. Of the six girls, the youngest four graduated from National Trail. Donna graduated from National Trail High School in 1984, and the very next year, she began what would become a shining career in communications.
Her first step toward a long 37-year career was a job at Preble County’s local newspaper, The Register-Herald, where she started as an Advertising Sales Account Executive. Hall had originally applied for a position as an assistant with the paper, but was offered the sales position by then-publisher Mark Henry. She admittedly had no idea what the job would entail, but according to her, she was mentored through the position by Henry.
As an Advertising Sales Account Executive, Hall learned how to work with both the community and creative staff at the paper professionally, further establishing the highly dedicated work ethic taught to her on her family’s farm, where hard work and efficiency were the everyday standard.
It was at The Register-Herald where she cut her teeth for a successful career in communications. “Frankly, I fell in love with selling stuff because of my time with The Register-Herald,” Hall said of her time at the paper in Eaton.
In 1986, Hall took a job at Times Publications in Dayton, again working in advertising sales. In 1987, she was hired by Cox Communications and worked as a Retail Advertising Account Executive for The Dayton Daily News. In 1989 she became a Local Advertising Account Executive for WHIO/K99.1 FM. She remarked that, at the time, employees did not normally transfer from divisions, yet Cox repeatedly offered her better and better positions within their companies.
Nancy Wilson, a friend and coworker of Hall’s at WHIO, and morning show host of WHIO/K99.1 FM, said of her, “Donna Hall is the epitome of class, grace and leadership. Donna has paved the way for many female leaders in our business, showing us how to be strong, focused and empathetic. She is someone I aspire to be and I am beyond honored to call her friend. I love Donna Hall.”
Undoubtedly Hall left the same impression on many others, as she glided her way up the corporate ladder of the communications business. In 1992 she was promoted to National Sales Manager for WHIO/K99. In 1994, she was promoted to Local Sales Manager, then became the General Sales Manager in 1995. From 1997 to 2009, she served as Vice President and General Manager of Cox Radio Dayton.
While working at WHIO, Hall met Larry Moore, who on April 15, 2002, became her husband. Donna took Larry’s two children, Ryan and Taylor, as her own, and together, Donna and Larry also had two children, Brady and Gannon.
Where many individuals may have been satisfied with such a brilliant career, Donna was not. She pressed on to become the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Audience for Cox Media Group Ohio (Newspaper/TV/Radio) from 2010 to 2012. From 2013 to 2014, Donna served as the Group Vice President of Sales Cox Media in Atlanta. Donna received her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2015. Then, from October 2014 to June 2019, she served as Vice President and General Manager Cox Radio ATL.
Yet even after such a truly remarkable career, Donna decided to return to her roots, moving from radio back to the newspaper, but this time she served as publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from June 2019, until her retirement in April, 2022.
Donna Hall’s career lasted 37 years, 35 of which were spent with Cox Enterprises. In that time, she was inducted into the Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and made many contributions to the broadcasting business.
“The foundation of Preble County, and what I learned there at The Register-Herald. There’s grit in Preble County, and I have grit. But I always come back to my roots in Preble.” Donna said when speaking of her career, “The story of my career is a story of the those who mentored me.”
Larry Hansgen, host of Miami Valley’s Morning News on WHIO Radio, said of Hall, “Cox is a very research driven company and while Donna was excellent at putting together and executing a strategic plan, she also had tremendous instincts. On many occasions, however, she would trust her gut, or rather her heart, and say, ‘we are going to do this, because it is the right thing to do.’ Often, she was right, and that is what made her a great leader. Her empathy for our audience and her employees was her guiding principle.”
The praises sung for Donna don’t stop there, however. Dawn Spitler, who worked as an account executive with Cox Media Dayton, said of her, “Donna has made something better of every media she has touched. She cares so much and that is reflected in everything she does. You won’t find a harder, more dedicated worker and even better mom and wife. She is a professional on every level. More than that, she is a great friend whom I have the utmost respect for. Donna has worked so hard. I’m so happy she gets to retire and enjoy her family.”
Donna plans to, “be still and take a breath,” during her retirement. She also plans to travel with her sisters, her husband, children, and grandchildren, Hayden and Beckett. She will stay busy, however, with plans to mentor others as she was mentored, which will come as no small surprise to those who are familiar with her incredible work ethic.
Donna’s youngest sister, Mandy, said of her, “Donna is kind, loving, honest, and has the most genuine and compassionate heart. Our dad always taught us about being fair and honest in the business world throughout his career with State Farm, and he led by example. Donna took our dad’s honest integrity and mom’s kind and loving heart, and in combination, had the career of a lifetime.”