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Meet the Mason Nation: Rodger Smith

Job: Faculty Advisor, WGMU

While still in high school, Rodger Smith already had his sights set on radio. “Some kids say they want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a businessman when they grow up,” he says. “I wanted to work in radio.” Now a faculty advisor for WGMU [1] radio and an instructor in the Department of Communication [2], Smith brings his years of passion for radio and communication to Mason students.

Making (Radio) Waves: Smith was drawn to radio at a young age and pursued his passion in his high school’s broadcasting club, where he worked with his mentor, current WINC morning show host Barry Lee. Smith recalls Lee trained him for on-air work early on Sunday mornings. “I would not be here at Mason if it wasn’t for Lee’s time and patience,” Smith says. Smith continued to work in radio in each school he attended. After earning his master’s degree from Shenandoah University in Winchester in 1992 and working as production director for WUSQ, Smith saw an advertisement in the Washington Post for a teaching position at Mason. “I came to Mason for the challenge. I had done just about everything I wanted to do in radio, but I had never taught it.”

Along with being a faculty advisor for WGMU radio and an instructor in the Department of Communication, Rodger Smith is also the director of the WGMU Summer Radio Camp. Smith started this program in 1996 for middle and high school students interested in working in radio. Photo by:Bethany Camp/Creative Services/George Mason University

Rodger Smith (right) with WGMU Summer Radio Camp students. Photo by Bethany Camp

Summer Camps: Outside of Mason, Smith is the director of the WGMU Summer Radio Camp [3], a program geared toward middle and high school students interested in working in radio. He started the immensely successful program in 1996 with encouragement from Don Boileau, the Department of Communication chair at the time. “Each summer I employ three students to teach basic radio on-air production skills,” he says. “The campers create on-air shows, promos, and video projects in two one-week sessions. Since the station is online, parents can watch their children produce on-air work through the WGMU radio website.”

Best Part of the Job: Some of Smith’s favorite aspects of WGMU radio are the staff and faculty members. “I work with a dedicated student staff interested in making WGMU the best student-led organization on campus and have been fortunate enough to see them excel professionally and as community leaders,” he says.

One of his former students is Kevin McCarthy, a movie reviewer for the Fox television affiliate in Washington, D.C. He also attributes WGMU’s success to Mason faculty members. “I have to thank Kathryn Mangus, Don Boileau, Cindy Lont, Gary Kreps, and Anne Nicotera—who have always been there for me with guidance and encouragement.”