While NBC 4 Columbus Morning Anchor Matt Barnes, BSJ ’08, appreciates being named Ohio’s Big Brother of the year by Big Brothers Big Sisters, the former WOUB student volunteer says the real reward is watching his “little” grow from a boy into a mature young man.
“I got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters five years ago,” said Barnes. “When I moved back to Ohio in 2015, a former WOUB colleague told me that there was a need for more young black men around my age to mentor kids in Columbus. I thought about it and realized these are boys who were like me growing up in Columbus.”
Barnes found out that in the Columbus area there was actually a waiting list of young African American boys to be paired with adult African American male mentors.
“Young black boys are more honest and open with their feelings when they are talking to someone who looks like them,” said Barnes. “As I learned more about the organization and its needs, I knew I could help.”
Barnes was paired with his current Little Brother Jaylin Woods in 2016. Barnes says Woods parents are both deceased, and he lives with his grandmother and two brothers. It was very important to Woods’ grandmother that all three of the boys have a positive male influence in their life, and she made sure all of them had a Big Brother.
“Jaylin was really quiet at first. He was not very open in the first six months or so,” said Barnes. “But he slowly opened up and started talking to me about different things that young men are dealing with. Now, he’s getting ready to graduate from high school and we’re talking about things like, getting into the workforce, having a girlfriend and how to treat her right. It’s amazing to watch his progression from a young man into an adult.”
Barnes is pleased to know that he was able to have a positive impact on Woods’ life. But Barnes knows his status as a local television news anchor didn’t have anything to do with that.
“I don’t think Jaylin even knew who I was at first,” said Barnes. “And now that he does, if we are out somewhere and someone recognizes me, he just laughs because he knows I hate that.”
Barnes was a student volunteer at WOUB from 2004 to 2008 and was one of the first African American hosts of WOUB’s Gridiron Glory. The 30-minute TV sports show airs highlights of high school football games from across Southeastern Ohio. Barnes hosted the program for two years starting in 2006. He also worked on WOUB radio and WOUB TV’s 30-minute nightly news program, Newswatch.
Barnes will now be considered for the national Big Brother of the Year award. The award winner will be announced this summer.
About WOUB Public Media
As a member station of both NPR and PBS, WOUB Public Media is a trusted source of news, local content and educational resources that have proven to be worthy of the time, effort and support of our users. WOUB, an experiential-learning unit of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, is a non-profit, community-supported multimedia organization which provides online and broadcast services, along with non-broadcast educational services and student professional development. WOUB serves 55 counties throughout southeastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky with its broadcast signals. WOUB Radio’s FM Network has transmitters in Athens, Chillicothe, Ironton, Zanesville and Cambridge, while WOUB AM serves the immediate Athens area. WOUB TV is made up of six television channels (WOUB HD, WOUB Classic, WOUB World, WOUB Create, WOUB Ohio and WOUB Kids) which are broadcast from two transmitters.
Through its support of public service, teaching, research and administrative missions, along with its high-quality local content and programming, WOUB enriches, enhances and expands the lives and horizons of the people in the communities it serves, as well as Ohio University faculty, staff and students.