Samuel Sirmons is currently an Executive Producer and Radio Personality for Radio One in the greater Atlanta area. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications in 2012. Throughout his career, he has mastered the craft of storytelling while using his voice to spread positive change and provide a comforting space for all those who listen in.
Live on Campus!
When Samuel started his undergraduate degree, he planned to pursue a degree in business administration through the Miller College of Business. However, his future was changed when he attended a party at the College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM). He was able to walk through the recording studio of the campus radio station and became immediately interested. In 2011, he was able to host his first show and that moment changed his life forever.
“That one hour on the radio changed my life. I realized I wanted to do everything I could to be able to pursue this full-time one day.”
After changing majors and getting more involved with the telecommunications program at BSU, Samuel saw how Ball State gave students incredible opportunities to grow their resume as well as educate them about the basics of media.
“Ball State taught me so many things I continue to use each day. The basics of trademarks, copyrights, storytelling, media law, and how to report things accurately. Because of this education, I have been able to be successful and avoid any major professional mistakes that plague many in this industry.”
He also loved the professors he got to study under during his time as a student. Dr. Maria Williams-Hawkins became a mentor to him as he made his decision about whether to pursue radio or television media. She guided him in how to make the best decision for his life and what storytelling looked like both on screen and on air. She taught him how to build out full stories to make sure they were detailed, accurate, and moving.
Brad King was another influential person in his life as he taught digital storytelling. This class greatly informs many of his day-to-day tasks in his career. Samuel stated that “this class was the most successful D I ever got in my life.” Brad taught Samuel how to keep listeners engaged with the story even though there is no visual element to radio. He also shared with Samuel how to keep ratings up and why it is important that every person take at least one thing away from the show.
In addition, Samuel was able to get real-life experience in producing and hosting radio shows through Ball State’s on-campus radio station WCRD. This experience was transformative and showed him what it would take to be successful in the future. It also created a foundation for Samuel to return to as he developed his skills and style moving forward.
Due to his education, opportunities at Ball State, and internship in V-103 Atlanta, Samuel was launched into the radio market. After bouncing around for a few years at different stations, Samuel is now an Executive Producer and Radio Personality at Radio One in Atlanta. As the largest black owned media company in the world, Urban One, out of a top 10 market, Samuel has had opportunities beyond his wildest dreams including broadcasting from the White House and interviewing our country’s leaders. He has been able to share the stories and news of major events that have rocked our nation.
Samuel also loves that his job looks a little different every day. The constant challenge of a shifting world keeps him engaged and excited about this career. Additionally, he has been able to provide a compassionate and safe media space for people all over to gather and listen. He loves that radio is a very accessible form of media, so he does his best to share not only what is most pressing but to create a space where people feel understood.
“I would do this job for free if it came to it. This is my passion. Radio will take a lot from you and the days may be long sometimes, but it has such an impact on the lives of so many even if you don’t get the opportunity to see it every day.”
Advice for Students
“Make sure this is your passion. This career will take a lot from you and require a strong work ethic, but if you give it your all you will see the impact you can have and why radio matters so much. Trust your struggle and keep pushing.”
Samuel encourages students to take a look at their goals in life and consider what a career in media would look like compared to what they think they want. By really considering the path before them, students can determine what opportunities would help them be successful and who they truly want to become. He also urges students to take the basics of media seriously in the classroom as they will assist each person greatly in the real world.
Samuel has continued to maintain an open relationship with Ball State as he has realized he has the opportunity to be a resource for students. He makes sure he can attend different events and have an open dialogue with those in charge of the department to push Ball State in a strong direction. He likes to ask the important questions about how the department is engaging with multicultural groups and other minority groups to help them be successful in the world of media. Samuel has taken upon himself a duty and obligation to show current and future students how to flourish in media markets and why giving back to your roots is so important.