(WKBN) – As First News honors Black History Month, WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford sits down with a former reporter about his experience in telling stories from the Black community as a Black reporter.

A familiar face to Channel 27, Ode Aduma reported for over 34 years before retiring in 2005.

Aduma returned to the WKBN studio this week, noting how different things are now, like the technology used.

“I’m seeing something that’s completely different from what it was when I worked here,” he said.

He talked about first starting out as a reporter.

“I think when I was… when I walked in the door, you know, as a young, young man or young reporter, I got to see a new world, and it was a different world. I was learning, and I was learning a lot at that time. I had to learn everything I knew. I had to learn everything I didn’t know, and then I had to learn some things that I wasn’t expecting to learn. I had to go through a lot of changes,” he said.

He discussed how he approached his new position as a reporter.

“I approached it as I’m going to be here to learn. I knew that I didn’t know everything and there was a wide world for me. So just walking into this world was different from what I had been used to,” Aduma said.

As a Black reporter in the community during the 1960s and the riots — even Youngstown had a riot — Aduma discussed what was going through his mind at the time.

“Well, the first thing is that I didn’t see myself as a Black reporter because we didn’t know the difference … It was a wide world and I was picking up what’s out there and I was learning things and then putting it together and I had to go fast, you know, it wasn’t coming, just that fast,” Aduma said.

Aduma reflected on how the community perceived him when he went out with the microphone.

“It was funny because I think that people saw us and they knew that we — and I’m saying the community at large — saw us. They saw us and they said, ‘This is a reporter.’ They were enthralled with the fact that we were reporting facts, and I didn’t have, you know, the answers for questions that they had. They would ask questions and sometimes they would ask questions after we had asked our questions when we were finished,” Aduma said. “But, you know, we got caught, and when we get caught, we get caught in a question mark. They would ask us, ‘Well, come on you guys, you could tell me something.’ Black people were, at that time, thrilled with what we were talking about and they were questioning us, but white people were questioning us, too, because they wanted to know. People didn’t feel like they could get the true answers from everybody else and they could get it from us.”

That was the expectation at the time, that the news was the news. It wasn’t about entertaining. It didn’t matter whether you were Black, African American or white, you wanted to know the truth about what was happening.

“I don’t think I ever ran into a situation where my color played a role — it stopped me from getting a story or helping me get a story. People saw me and knew that he is for real. That was nice. Even the racists took me on and said, ‘This guy’s real,'” Aduma said.

We asked Aduma about any key moments that have stayed with him.

“Oh. Key moments of things that stayed with me. Tom Holden. We had lots of conversations and Tom would tell me things in private. Then I would tell him things in private. Then we would cross-check what we had told each other. People would see me on the street and they wouldn’t believe that I was real,” Aduma said.

We asked what he would say to a young individual interested in getting into the business and staying in the business.

“I don’t say that Youngstown has to do a better job of recruiting people. Youngstown has to do a better job. I’ve gone to other cities and I’ve been in other cities and I’ve watched the news and they’ve got Blacks all over the TV… What drew me was that when I first got into the business, people in it, reporters and everybody else was asking me, why don’t you come in and be a reporter? I didn’t know what a reporter was, you know, and I said, I don’t know if I want to do that because I was thinking, I don’t want to be getting into somebody else’s business,” Aduma said.

Now that he’s retired, Aduma has shifted gears and is focusing on things like bike riding and walking whenever he can.

“I don’t do much of anything and I like it that way. I just like sitting around and doing nothing,” he said.

He also has grandchildren in Virginia.