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Life & Work with Roderick Wilbon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roderick Wilbon.

Hi Roderick, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into scampecifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always been a writer since I was a kid. I’d write stories all the time, and I loved to read. Books were a fantastical world for me, and the library was my second home. However, I liked science and biology once I entered grade school. These two were my conflicting job pursuing life passions.

I attended Hazelwood Central High and graduated in 2004. My goals at the time were to go to Southeast Missouri State University. At the time, I wanted to be a Biologist, and my mother was an Alum at SEMO. I did one year at SEMO and decided to come back home to Saint Louis to finish my degree later.

Eventually, I winded up at Saint Louis Community College, which was very affordable in 2015. I was pursuing an Associate’s in Biotechnology, and I essentially knocked out all my core gen ed classes I needed for college, whether at the state level or not.

I started taking electives, and one elective I took was News Reporting and Writing. It was just a class the register threw me in, so I didn’t think much of it. I still was mainly writing on my NBA sports blog in my past time. The Professor for the class was Renee Thomas-Woods, and after turning in one of the writing assignments, she asked if I wanted to write for the school newspaper. I never saw myself as a writer for a career for some odd reason. I thought you had to be a novelist to be considered a writer. I wrote short stories but was never really serious about them.

So I took Mrs. Thomas-Woods up on her offer. Later I found out she ran the school newspaper, the Forum at STLCC-Flo Valley. She was also the Journalism and Public Relations professor at Flo Valley. So I wrote my first article for the school newspaper and immediately ran and changed my major to Mass Media. Renee was a former Journalist and Public Relations Practitioner herself. She told me everything I needed to do to be a journalist, and I decided to take most of her classes for my major.

Knowing the path, I needed to take; I also incorporated TV Production, Radio, and Public Relations into my class schedule. I worked as the Sports Reporter for the Forum while finishing school. While attending Flo Valley, I started my company Rodz Media, Inc. I met a radio student Sam Coleman that wanted to be a voice actor, and he and I started an anime-centered blog, podcast, and YouTube platform called Anime Pad.

Sam and I combined our abilities and our love of anime. We attended anime and pop-culture conventions as press interviewing actors, actresses, and stars from television, video games, and anime shows. I also finished an internship at Saint Louis American Newspaper, where they wanted to keep me on board afterward. I did this for the next two years, graduating with an Associate of Arts and Sciences in Mass Communications in 2017.

After the summer break, I transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis. I got a job working for the independent school newspaper, The Current. They hired me as the Sports Editor and the Multimedia Editor. I wanted to advance my knowledge and expertise in journalism and media. I majored in Media Studies with a Bachelor’s Degree and with Minors in Public Relations and Advertising.

During this time, I was selected for a New York Times Workshop, where the school sent me to New York for a few days. The New York Times selected 50 students from around the country for this workshop. I was honored to be chosen and have the blessing of Professors and my fellow students at the Current. I achieved a lot with the Current Newspaper doing great work with the Saint Louis Blues, the UFC, the NBA, and much more. I also continued to travel the country with my business covering anime conventions and producing content for my websites.

Unfortunately, in my last year at UMSL, I had to quit The Current Newspaper. I needed three internships for my degrees before graduation and just couldn’t fit The Current in my schedule. I was introduced to Judith Arnold from The Saint Louis Association of Community Organizations.

SLACO is a non-profit that works in impoverished neighborhoods to support residents with their needs and connect them to resources they might need to advance their lives. SLACO needed a public relations/communications director for the pursuit of creating a Special Business District. I interviewed for the internship and was hired.

After the great internship with SLACO, I had my second internship with the PR firm ELittle Communications Group. At ELittle, I was a digital media specialist and handled various tasks for the firm. I worked with several clients before my time was over, and ELittle offered me an entry-level job with the firm. I declined the job and started offering PR services myself.

I graduated in 2019 from UMSL and have been doing contract PR work as Rodz Media, Inc. and still developing content for Anime Pad since then. Judith Arnold hired me for two of her political campaign that she would run, and she’s been one of my biggest clients still to this day.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road hasn’t been smooth, but the road has been very fulfilling. On the Public Relations side, in the back of my mind, I have to ask myself will I have enough clients or work this week. Often, I don’t get a lot of sleep, and I make myself available to clients 24/7. So there’s a lot of stress that I put on myself.

I have to mention Coronavirus too in this present realm. It put a slight blow to everything that I do in the beginning. I winded up doing extra work on the side to get by during a year and a half of Covid. I stayed strong that the world and our leaders in this country would figure it out, though, and we’d get back to work.

When it comes to Anime Pad, my passion, I have to wear many hats as a content creator—writing articles, editing my own story and my contractors, sending and responding to emails, planning logistics of attending conventions, editing video and audio for the YouTube and Podcast.

On a daily, I don’t think about how I can do all of this, but friends and family remind me that it’s not as regular as I believe. I met and talked with many outstanding people though I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
What sets me apart from the crowd is that I was classically trained in Journalism and trained in the new style of being a Multi-Media Person. I’m the total public relations package, and I offer that service to people, clients, and organizations. Most of the time, it’s just me, but I have some great people with me that I can add. When needed, I assemble a small handful of my professional friends.

Once again, when it comes to Anime Pad, I’m most proud of the people I’ve met, interviewed, and talked with. Of course, I’ve met some of my idols in Anime and Japanese Pop-Culture. The front office of Crunchyroll, Sunrise Studios, Bandai Namco Filmworks, producers and writers on anime shows, Yoshiyuki Tomino, the Creator of Gundam, and countless Voice Actors.

Yet, I can’t forget the wonderful anime community across the USA and my hometown, especially the Gateway Blerds.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
The advice I would give those who want to start with their enterprise is to believe in themselves. Believe in your skills, knowledge, and ability to continue to learn, and you’ll do fine.

Of course, nothing is perfect, but you have to strive for perfection first. Secondly, having mentors has helped me more than I’d have known. I have a handful of mentors that I can call for advice professionally and personally.

They’re experts and educators in their fields and wiser than me beyond my years.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Diamond Designs Photography

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1 Comment

  1. Audrey Ellermann

    May 23, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    Wonderful article. I have had the privilege of working with Rod. He is top notch. Has a wonderful eye for detail. Easygoing and fun to be around.

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