Rodney Evans’ greatest drive in life is giving people hope. He spreads joy as a gospel music radio broadcaster and ordained minister, and continuing education at Mercer University opened doors for him to help people in other ways.
The Atlanta native is the host of “Joy in the Morning” on Clark Atlanta University’s Jazz 91.9 WCLK, which airs 4-6 a.m. every Monday through Friday and 6-11 a.m. Sundays. Separately, he hosts the one-hour, syndicated “Rodney Evans Gospel Show.”
“I’ve always been a lover of gospel music, even as a young child. I was in the church a lot, and music was my relief and was my thing,” Evans said.
By the time he was in his teens, he owned an extensive collection of gospel music, and a radio announcer he knew sometimes borrowed his albums. Evans started accompanying his friend to the station and filled in for him one day, when he unknowingly presented the entire show with his microphone turned too low for anyone to hear him.
Amid this snafu, his career path was solidified. He went to Columbia School of Broadcasting and became a volunteer announcer at Clark Atlanta University, where he rose through the ranks and has now broadcast gospel music for 35 years.
“I love the power to be able to encourage people,” said Evans, who has been married for 27 years and has three children and four grandchildren. “I am a servant at heart. I don’t like when people celebrate me. I want to celebrate people. I love being able to encourage people and give them hope during this time.”
Evans broadcasts a mix of traditional and contemporary gospel music, and gospel music fans as well as musicians tune in from across the country. Artists often make sure he has their new music to play before they send it to other stations.
“It has really gained the respect of the industry across the country,” said Evans, who has served as the president of the Atlanta chapter of the Gospel Radio Announcers Guild for about five years.
Evans regularly talks to listeners who call in, and some of those interactions stay close to his heart. He recalled a time when a woman told him she’d been waiting all day for him to come on the radio. She had been contemplating suicide, and she thought he might be the one person who could talk her out of it. He ministered to her over the phone and changed her mind.
Years later, the woman crossed paths with Evans and told him who she was, and they hugged and cried together.
“It’s those kind of stories that give me hope. It’s those things that give me the drive to do what I do. It’s amazing … when we think nobody is paying attention to what we do, God sends someone to certify that, ‘Yes, I’ve got my eyes on you.’
“I encourage (my listeners) to know that it’s going to be a brighter day. I have to believe that things are going to work out for us,” he said.
Another huge part of Evans’ life is the church he grew up in, Faith Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. In the early 2000s, he helped his church through a reorganization phase as its financial officer. He fell in love with the work and wanted to receive the credentials to help other churches and nonprofits get their finances in order.
That led him in 2002 to Mercer’s continuing education program for accounting, through which he earned his accounting certification after taking classes on the Atlanta and Douglas County campuses.
“It opened up the doors for me to do a lot of things outside my radio career,” Evans said.
Evans went on to become a member of his church’s Board of Trustees, music minister, praise and worship/choir director, and now co-pastor. He’s been an ordained minister for about 15 years. He said with a laugh that he’s grown up with all these people at his church, and they don’t mind to still listen to him after all these years.
Evans also is a dedicated community volunteer and enjoys working with youth. His nonprofit, For The Children Inc., offers after-school support for children in Atlanta and holds an annual fundraiser called Give a Toy, Give a Smile that provides new toys to children in foster care and emergency shelters.
“My drive is by giving people hope,” Evans said. “If I can put a smile on a child’s face, if I can put a smile on a parent’s face, something to give hope, that’s what I really want. All my life, I’ve wanted to give hope. It’s been all about helping people.”