How Lancaster Bible College’s Communication Program is Setting Students Up for Success
The Charles Frey Academic Center has garnered a myriad of admirers since its groundbreaking last April. Nowhere is this more apparent than in reactions to the communication major’s new studio spaces. Prospective students visit and envision their future under the LED lights of the television station. Current students produce and host their own radio shows and stream them live around the world. Communication alumni, visiting their alma mater, sit behind the control room’s brightly lit video switcher or digital soundboard and wish, for just a moment, that they could turn back the clock on their own education. It is fun to work in those studios and eavesdrop as students bring friends and family by to show off this new space. My personal favorite was two young women who, upon rounding the corner, exclaimed, “Wow, we’re getting serious around here!”
For students, the studios hold a sense of technological wonder and academic possibility. For faculty, the CFAC provides a real-world teaching environment where they can work shoulder-to-shoulder with students, preparing them for the technological and logistical demands of the field. One of the hallmarks of the communication major has always been the presence of Christian communication professionals. These professor-mentors not only know the technological demands of the industry but also understand the often tumultuous path Christians have to navigate in these fields. “Being trained to work in a secular environment is something anyone can do but, for Christians, it is especially important to enter those secular jobs with the foundation of biblical teachings,” explained Adrienne Garvey, a 13-year television news industry veteran and professor in the communication program.
Garvey began her career as a producer and reporter for the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Missouri, KSPR. Securing that position through a successful college internship, she is a champion in promoting internships and utilizing her vast network of communication contacts to launch our students into their own careers. While Garvey’s own professional development includes producing and reporting at KODE in Joplin, Missouri, her most recent experience as a Producer and as the assignment manager at WGAL, the local NBC affiliate, brought her to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and into the lives of LBC students. Garvey wants to see a new generation of Christians attracted to broadcast communication. Within the Communication Major, we often refer to our students as embedded missionaries as many of their career paths will take them into traditionally secular professions. “How will people come to know the love of Jesus if Christians don’t ever enter the secular work industries, including the field of communication?” Garvey asked.
Echoing similar sentiments, WJTL radio host and adjunct professor Kristi Leigh, commented, “Words are so powerful. The Bible says they can be used to build others up, bring life and healing. Our world needs excellent communicators with the heart and mind of Christ to weigh in on situations and broadcast from a Good News perspective, no matter where they work. There are so many opportunities, and these jobs make an impact.” While the CFAC was still just a set of architectural drawings, LBC developed a partnership with WJTL, a local Christian radio station with a clear community-engagement focus that mirrors LBC’s own mission and vision. The station shared their entire digital music catalog with LBC to start the student station. However, the far richer gift in this strategic partnership is the talent and oversight of Leigh, who developed and taught LBC’s first radio class and is training and mentoring the students working in our radio station.
After learning her craft behind the microphone of her own university’s radio station and through working for Cox Broadcasting’s group of stations in Dayton, Ohio, Leigh returned home to Lancaster and began working at WJTL in 2002. Today, she can be spotted working at many of WJTL’s live events and concerts, often accompanied by her LBC students. “I feel that classes in communication are valuable, even if a student is pursuing other fields. Honing the ability to make effective presentations and personal connections can benefit soon-to-be pastors, businessmen, educators and beyond,” Leigh explained. To that end, she will be training non-communication majors to produce and host their own radio shows this semester, opening the station to the entire LBC student population. “I want LBC students to know how to broadcast with excellence and how to make a personal connection with listeners because it’s a daily opportunity to serve the community and shine for Jesus. I want to pass on my appreciation from both sides of the microphone in addition to the life lessons I’ve learned because of it,” Leigh reflected.
Though the technology in the Charles Frey Academic Center is certainly impressive, personal connections with talented and caring Christian communication professionals like Garvey and Leigh are the real treasures this facility houses. Their professional rigor and spiritual guidance have transformed the CFAC into a professional proving ground that prepares students to be technologically excellent and spiritually ready to take their place as the next generation of communication professionals.