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Plugged In with the Community

Austin LandersGenerally, when people hear different personalities on the radio, they aren't too familiar with the face that sits behind the microphone. But when it comes to Austin Landers, almost everyone in Greenwood knows him on a first-name basis. As a Greenwood native and 2007 graduate of the university, Landers makes it a point to remain "plugged in" with the community he serves.

In addition to being a successful musician, Landers also hosts a popular radio show, The Afternoon Drive with Austin, which can be heard every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on Sunny 103.5, WZSN-FM.

"I wear many hats at Sunny," admitted Landers, who also serves as the station's traffic manager, in addition to hosting his afternoon show. His regular day includes handling production, programming, remote broadcasts and promotional events.

"We have a small staff," Landers said, which requires the comprehensive training that mass communications majors receive when studying at Lander.

Looking at the mass communications program today, Landers is excited to see the growth of the university's student media platforms in recent years, giving current students even more opportunities to receive the hands-on experience necessary for success in whatever their future career may be.

"When I was at Lander, XLR was just a whisper," Landers said, praising professors Paul Crutcher and Robert Stevenson for the improvements they and the rest of the faculty have made to the program over the past decade. "We didn't have anything quite like what my alma mater has now."

Crutcher acknowledged that it's rewarding to see so many mass communications graduates, like Landers, who are excelling in their current fields. "Austin is a positive force in the universe - the kind of guy you want to be around," said Crutcher, who now works with his former student at Sunny 103.5 when occasionally hosting his own show, Friday Night Dance Party. "He has an infectious personality and goes out of his way to make people feel like they are important, which I think is a rare trait in this day and age. You hear that friendly tone and caring attitude come through in his daily radio show. Greenwood is lucky to have him."

Landers is thankful to have the opportunity to use his skills as a professional communicator on a daily basis - skills he began developing on day one with Lander University's Department of Mass Communications. "Hosting my afternoon show is my favorite part about my job," said Landers. "I'm paid to talk and make a playlist on a daily basis. As a natural motor-mouth and music lover, what could be better?"

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.

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