Rigging together a Spongebob sign announcing his captivity on Obama’s campaign jet, running a marathon two years after open heart surgery and writing a best-selling novel are just a few of Todd Starnes’ accomplishments.
He will be sharing some of his experiences and advice with UMHB students Wednesday when he speaks in chapel.
“I’m not a pastor or a theologian. I’m going to share a view from the pew. I’m going to talk about getting out of your comfort zone,” Starnes said. “I’m also going to be sharing some of my adventures as a journalist.”
Starnes is a network news reporter for Fox News Radio, based in New York City, but covers stories well outside the city.
One of his favorite assignments was Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Starnes was the embedded reporter for Fox News and learned what it is like to travel with a presidential candidate.
“The campaign jetliner was sort of like a dorm room with wings. We decorated it with photos, key cards from hotel rooms and even a giant cardboard police officer who was taped to the rear bulkhead,” Starnes said.
He spent a lot of time with the other reporters covering the event and was close to them by the end of the trip.
Starnes said, “There is a real bond that develops between other reporters because we’re working 18-hour days, traveling together, working in extreme conditions and trying to out-scoop each other.”
He considers covering the campaign trail one of his favorite assignments because of the outcome of the election and the memories he has from the time spent on the job.
“It was the assignment of a lifetime, being able to have a front row seat to what would become a historic campaign,” Starnes said.
He mainly works in radio broadcasting, providing people with stories over the air rather than in print or video.
“I love the immediacy of radio journalism; the ability to tell a story and paint a visual image for our listeners using words and sounds. It’s really an adrenaline rush,” Starnes said.
In addition to covering stories for Fox News, Starnes also tells his own stories in his humorous novels.
“I love writing, and my books are a natural outflow of what I do on the radio and also on my daily blog,” he said.
His first book, They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick, tells of his journey of having open heart surgery.
Starnes has also written a second book called Dispatches from Bitter America.
Obviously gifted with words, he has won several awards, including an Edward R. Murrow and the Associated Press Mark Twain Award for Storytelling.
But for Starnes, it’s not about the number of awards he has that makes his job worthwhile; it’s being an effective journalist and presenting accurate information.
He said, “Getting the story right. That’s so important, making sure I present the facts in a fair and balanced way so that our listeners and readers can decide issues for themselves.”
Though he lives and works in a politiclly liberal area of the country, his faith is something that Starnes still holds as an extremely important part of his life.
“One of the great things about living in New York City has been meeting fellow believers. There is a vibrant and energized evangelical faith community here,” he said.
He sees his journalism job as a daily opportunity to share his faith with people and encourages others to do so as well, no matter what the job looks like.
“It very well may be that you end up in New York or Los Angeles or in Belton. Your mission field is not necessarily in Haiti or Africa,” Starnes said. “It could be the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It could be as a press secretary in Washington D.C. Don’t settle for second best in your life.”