Roosevelt Leftwich found his passion for broadcasting at WOUB
Leftwich graduated from Ohio University in 1984
ATHENS, OH – When Roosevelt Leftwich came to Athens in 1980, he thought he wanted to be a print journalist. Then he started working at WOUB, got the broadcast bug, and never looked back.
“I grew up in Cleveland, and I attended a youth newspaper editor conference at Ohio University when I was a junior in high school. The conference was one week, and I really enjoyed it. After that, I wanted to go to Ohio University for college.”
When Leftwich arrived on campus as a freshman, he started working at The Post. He worked overnights and was a copy editor. Leftwich wanted to have a byline in the paper, but he was told that he wasn’t ready.
“A friend then told me to come up to WOUB and work on the radio. He said they would let me on the air right away,” said Leftwich. “So I did, and I immediately got assigned a Saturday morning shift doing a newscast at 7 a.m. My first newscast was the worst newscast in the history of newscasts. But I stuck with it. WOUB was a place I could immediately do something. They put me right to work.”
Leftwich did radio for almost two years at WOUB. Then he decided to audition for television.
“I auditioned for NewsWatch early in my sophomore year, and it was terrible. I did not get approved to anchor on TV. But when I tried out again at the end of my sophomore year, I was given a TV anchor spot,” said Leftwich. “The first time I anchored NewsWatch, I thought I knew what to do on television. But as Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ I was nervous, and I knew my friends were watching. I looked at the wrong camera. There were words I knew that I mispronounced. I was nervous, but I kept coming back and got better.”
Leftwich worked at WOUB during spring and winter breaks to gain more experience. He graduated early in March of 1984 and started looking for a job.
“I looked for six months and couldn’t find anything. I was thinking about becoming a firefighter in Cleveland, and that’s when a TV job came along,” said Leftwich. “An Ohio University professor learned that WHIZ in Zanesville was looking for someone and recommended me.”
At first, Leftwich did weather for the noon news and worked on a 4-H farm program. Leftwich was eventually promoted to news anchor. He worked in Zanesville for more than two years before moving on to accept a reporter/weekend anchor position at a station in Florence, South Carolina.
“I was in South Carolina for about two years before I moved on to a bigger market in Charlotte, North Carolina as a reporter,” said Leftwich. “But I wanted to be an anchor. So, I accepted a position back in a smaller market as a weekend anchor and fill-in main anchor in Columbia, South Carolina.”
That’s when Leftwich got his big break – an opportunity to go back home. He was offered a reporter position in Cleveland at WEWS.
“I worked there for eight years, and it was great,” said Leftwich. But the anchor bug hit again when Leftwich decided to leave Cleveland to go anchor a morning show in Baltimore.
“I started there anchoring the mornings but then was promoted to the 5 p.m. anchor,” said Leftwich. “It was a really great opportunity until there was an ownership change at the station and things really changed.”
That’s when Leftwich came home again. This time to work as a multimedia journalist for Fox 8 in Cleveland.
“I’ve been back in Cleveland since August of 2015,” said Leftwich. “I still use the skills I learned at WOUB every day. At WOUB, you learn the basics. The students did everything at WOUB. We picked up the phone and called people. We asked questions. We got out to meet people and talked to people. As a reporter, 90% of your job is talking to people. And I learned how to do that and how to be a journalist at WOUB.”