Ben Smith: A Dream of Christian Radio
By: Heather Cox
Ben Smith was a Media Communication major, who graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2009.
An Evansville, Indiana native, Smith knew he wanted to attend a Christian University when he began the search for a college. Originally, IWU was not on his radar, as he knew little about it. When it came to be spring break of his senior year and he had still not made a college decision, he decided a road trip was in order.
Smith headed out to go on several college tours.
He began by touring other schools in Northern Indiana, but he said when he stepped onto Indiana Wesleyan’s campus, it felt different.
“I think a lot of people say you just felt God’s presence right when you got on campus with the buildings and the people you interacted with, the admissions staff. As I went throughout that visit day, I just really felt like that’s where I was supposed to be,” Smith said. “So on the way home we were supposed to visit some other schools, but I really felt like God had given me that so didn’t even visit any other schools we had planned on visiting, and I guess the rest is history!”
When it came to choosing Media Communication as his major, it was not a simple decision. Smith was unsure of what he wanted to study, but it was his parents who pointed out that he was very interested in music, concerts, and radio.
“I didn’t even realize you could major in that,” Smith said. “But when I visited Indiana Wesleyan, they had a small college station that was run out of College Wesleyan church. I looked at that and was really excited about getting involved with radio.”
While Smith was a student at IWU, he said the Communication Department was going through changes. This included Elder Hall being built, and the radio station was moved and placed there.
Smith also became very involved with the radio station while on campus. He was a staff member for two years. By his junior year he was the Music and Promotions Director, and by his senior year he had become the Student Manager.
Smith’s interest in music even drove him to perform at McConn with some of his friends.
“My senior year I lived with a bunch of guys in a Townhouse who were musical, so we would kind of play around … we played at McConn a couple of times,” Smith said.
In addition to being involved on campus, Smith was also involved with the community surrounding campus.
“I was involved in outreach on campus–I was an Outreach Coordinator my sophomore year in Bowman House, was involved in getting students involved in a variety of outreach activities, and I was involved in a local church at Lakeview, and I came to College Wesleyan as well,” Smith said. “I was involved in a ministry through the Boys and Girls club, YMCA and things like that in the community.”
Two of Smith’s classes which were most influential for him include broadcast classes he took with Dr. Randall King and Dr. Mark Perry, which have helped with his job today.
As for his favorite aspects of IWU, Smith was sure to mention his lifelong friends he made as a student, and the professors he is still in contact with.
In addition to that, Smith’s overall favorite thing about Indiana Wesleyan was God’s presence throughout every campus aspect.
“I think the overall aspect is Christ bringing everybody together,” Smith said. “from academics to things in the dining hall and the student center, and of course with friends and worship services and chapel services, just the presence of Christ on campus in every aspect of the student life and life at IWU.”
Following graduation, Smith had hoped for a job in Christian radio right away, but said God did not open that door quite yet.
For a short amount of time Smith did a little bit of social work, but quickly realized that was not for him. It was then that he started putting more emphasis on finding a job in radio in the fall of 2009, and was hired part-time at WIKY, the number one adult contemporary radio station in the Evansville area.
Eventually, the station even gave Smith a Christian music program on Sundays to play Christian music and do giveaways and contests. In 2014, Smith was hired by the radio station full time as the Director of First Impressions.
Smith worked there until the company was bought by a larger conglomerate broadcast company in the fall of 2014, when he was let go. By April of 2015 however, Smith was hired by Thy Work Network, a Christian radio station in Evansville, where he is currently working.
“I have a regular afternoon program five days a week where I’m on the air for four or five hours each afternoon. We play music, and do contests and stuff like that,” Smith said. “We also have a lot of teaching networks on the station so we have a lot of pastors who have preaching segments.”
Smith said he loves Christian radio and loves where he works. As for the future, he hopes to someday work in a larger market, possibly in Nashville or Louisville.
“A lot of my family lives here in town, so I don’t want to move too far away from them, but would love to move to a bigger market in Christian radio and maybe work for a nationwide network of stations like K-Love or something like that,” Smith said. “And again, the station I work at now is great, just kind of thinking of the future maybe moving to a bigger market, bigger area where there are more opportunities.”
Smith’s advice for current Indiana Wesleyan students would be to make sure to get involved in different activities, even outside of chosen majors. In addition to that, Smith said he would want to encourage students to get involved in outreach opportunities as well.
“I would say get involved and definitely cherish the time at Indiana Wesleyan,” Smith said. “And it may seem at times that it’s going kind of slow or you’re bogged down with finals or classes and everything, but I would say those are some of the best memories I have had my entire life– friends and most importantly being able to be in a Christian environment over those four years.”
Written by Heather Cox, a writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a Junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!