Thursday, 01 September 2016 07:28

Larry Stevens, President, SMI Advertising

Written by  Staff
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RRJ: Many people associate you with Montgomery because of your nearly 30-year career on radio, but where did you grow up?


Larry: I grew up in the small coal-mining town of Grundy, Virginia.  All my family was in coal mining and in those days it was a very hard and unsafe business.  At an early age, I was infatuated with radio, especially when I could hear great radio stations from thousands of miles away due to AM radio being dominate.  At age 15, I finally got the nerve to see the owner of our local station and began to hang around, then at age 15 I did my first radio show.  By the time I graduated from high school in 1966 I had three years experience, and for a total of 33 years, I lived my childhood dream.  I did earn a degree in electronics, but decided to stay on radio.  My very pregnant wife and I (married in 1967 after being high school sweethearts) moved to Montgomery in late 1969.  Little did I know that I would be here 47 years later and I would not dream of living anywhere else.


RRJ:  Did you come to know Christ there in Grundy as a child or youth?


Larry:  I was baptized into Christ at age fourteen.  I was raised by God-fearing grandparents, and I always had a belief in God.


RRJ:  What would you say were some of the powerful worldly attractions that pulled you away from living for Christ?


Larry:  When I got out of high school, I moved away.  I can’t say it was any particular worldly attraction that pulled me away, other than I just moved away from the Savior.  As my radio career took off, I focused heavily on being successful and so it wasn’t long before it was all about success.  


RRJ:  How did God bring you to the point of surrendering your life fully to Christ?


Larry:  When I was about 30 years old, we had two daughters, and Sarah (my wife) and I began to feel the need to get them into a church.  We began to visit churches but never settled into one.  My excuse was that I couldn’t find a church that was like the one back home.  Of course, I could have found a church where we could have plugged in and started serving, but again it was an excuse. 

In 1979 I got a call at the radio station from a man asking if I was from Grundy, VA and if I knew a particular minister who was there. I did know him, and I also told him I had been a member of one of the churches associated with this man’s congregation. It turned out, he was here to start a new church. Our church is part of a brotherhood that doesn’t have a denominational setup, but we do cooperate to support Bible colleges and missionaries.  Suddenly my excuse was gone.  We began to attend the fledgling church and soon after I was convicted and surrendered my life again to Christ (think Prodigal Son) and my wife gave her love to Christ and was baptized.  We are still with the same church body (Cornerstone Christian Church) and serving the Lord.


RRJ:  In many ways, you have lived a very public life as a radio personality. Has it been too difficult to maintain an active faith beyond the comfortable surroundings of Sunday morning church?


Larry:  There have been some conflicts, but I have always trusted God. When it came to hard decisions I looked at what His Word had to say and tried to make sure whatever I did was hooked up with His will for my life. I made the decision that I would not represent any company I could not recommend to a friend or one that seemed inconsistent with what I find in the Word of God.  I make every effort to take my Sunday attitude with me into the rest of the week.  Faith isn’t a one-day thing; it is 24/7 and something I strive to live out in my everyday dealings. Sundays should not be comfortable because that is when Christians need to be challenged to go out and live their lives as ambassadors for Christ.


RRJ:  Now, for nearly 20 years, you’ve been operating your ad agency, SMI Advertising, which is a full-service agency representing around 40 clients.  What are three ways your personal faith in Christ is revealed in your company?


Larry:  We never lie to a client.  When we make an error we admit what we did, even if it costs us money (which it has).  We have a trust with our clients that when we tell them something they know we are truthful, and because of this trust we rarely lose clients.  

We treat our sales reps from the media with respect, and we are always honest with them.  We know they have families and have to earn a living, and we do our best never to make their lives difficult.  

We look at our life as a ministry.  Through our work, we hope to show God’s influence in our lives.  Christ left us with the Great Commandment to make disciples, and we never want to do anything that may prevent us from having a good witness to the world.


RRJ:  Finally, what advice would you give our readers to successfully live out their Christian faith?


Larry:  Know God’s Word, pray and listen to the voice of God’s Spirit that indwells you.  If we have a heart for God, we soon find that the Word, prayer and the comfort of the Helper will lead us as we should go. 

I’ll sum it up with these scriptures from Romans 12:1-2:


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.



Larry Stevens and wife Sarah recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary and the couple has three grown children. Larry and Sarah have been members of Cornerstone Christian Church in Montgomery for 37 years where Larry currently serves as an elder and teaches Sunday School.




Last modified on Thursday, 01 September 2016 07:45
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