By: Kiara Patterson
Leon Bibb is one of the most prominent and ambitious Broadcast Journalists in the television industry. Being the first-ever African American primetime news anchor in Ohio, Bibb has paved the way for nearly hundreds of journalists in his field at WKYC.
Over the past forty years, Bibb has fought and advocated for equal rights and protection against the law and covered stories and events that have been monumental to the progression of African American and American history.
Bayou Beat News got the opportunity to sit down and speak with this icon to discuss what it means to be a journalist and the advice he has to share with the next generation.
BB: What are some key takeaways you’ve learned while being a Broadcast Journalist?
Bibb: The more you write, the better you get at it. As a journalist, be objective in your reporting. It is not so much about what you think, but what the interviewee says. I try not to let my politics cover what I am doing. If I give my opinions, it is clearly labeled “Leon’s opinion,” but if it’s news, I’m going to tell you what one person said and what the other person said. It’s like anything else. Work at it and work at your craft.
BB: When do you think you found your purpose?
Leon Bibb: I think I found my professional purpose when I was young, but you find other purposes in life as you grow older. I told my parents about my aspirations and they told me “Remember, you’ve got to do the work.” You just can’t wish things. A lot of people just go around wishing things, but do they want them enough to work toward them? That’s the difference.
BB: When you were given your news assignments to report on TV as an anchorman, how did you process and prepare to report your stories?
Leon Bibb: Anybody can read the teleprompter. The letters are a pretty good size; but can you write for the teleprompter? Can you write a script? Can you deliver a script? Can you do the interviews that go with it? Right now I’m working on a story that’s going to air on Sunday nights and I know that I have a deadline and I have to get it done. That’s my job. I’ve done the interviews, I have to write the story, I have to go in and find the parts of the interview I want to use, I have to write the things in between the interviews. The whole thing will be mine. I am dedicated to that. That’s part of the process. Going on the air might be the easiest part of it because by then everything should be in place. I’ve done what I needed to do to get the broadcast together.
BB: In your career, what story did you cover and report on that was the most memorable?
Leon Bibb: I interviewed the man who killed Martin Luther King. I’ve done a one-on-
one interview with him. I’ve interviewed the President of the United States, one on one, Barack Obama at the white house. I’ve flown with the air force Thunderbirds in the back seat of an air force jet. I’ve flown in hot air balloons, helicopters and I’ve been on all kinds of boats and ships. I’ve covered the war in the Persian Gulf. A lot of different kinds of stories.
BB: What advice would you give a future journalist in your field?
Leon Bibb: If it was easy, everybody would do it. It’s not easy. If you want easy, there are plenty of people who take the easy way out. You don’t get too much with “EASY” It’s hard, but that’s also what makes it good.
BB: What project are you working on that our readers should know about?
Leon Bibb: I’m working on a novel right now. I’m seven chapters into it so far. My novel is about love and romance, and jazz music and television, and a man who meets a woman and they help each other through life and they’re both mature people.