History Teacher Steve Labenz Trades Whiteboards with Switchboards.

History Teacher Steve Labenz Trades Whiteboards with Switchboards.

Jordan George, Editor in Chief

History teacher Steve Labenz leans back in his seat, preparing his thoughts. Ready to address his audience, he clears his throat and says, “Good afternoon West Michigan, this is Steve Labenz on 98.7 WFGR, Grand Rapids’ greatest hits!”

Labenz holds an unconventional job as a radio DJ on the weekends when he isn’t teaching social studies at FHC, even working full time before his transition into teaching 16 years ago.

“The old days of radio were just so appealing to me,” said Labenz, who teaches AP US History and Civics at FHC. “I just loved the camaraderie and the togetherness that we all had as a staff at the station.”

Labenz acknowledges that the radio world has changed since he worked full time in the radio business, but he continues to enjoy part time work at WFGR, where he works the 10-3 shift on weekends.

“I still enjoy it because it has been something that I have done for so long,” said Labenz. “It is a little different now because I am the only one in the building when I am taping, which is definitely different than it used to be.”

With such an interesting side job in comparison to teaching, Labenz can draw some comparisons between his weekend job and full-time job as an educator.

“Both teaching and radio include a lot of communication,” said Labenz. “And I think a big part of radio and teaching is entertainment. On the radio, you are trying to entertain, engage, and connect to your audience, and I think that is a lot like teaching. With teaching, we are trying to capture the attention of our students and keep them engaged. The students are in their desks for eight hours a day, and as teachers, we are trying to keep them engaged.”

Labenz’s radio career has been a long and interesting journey. He has worked at a radio station in Texas, and also bounced around to various radio stations in the Grand Rapids area, including WOOD Radio. Labenz began his radio career as a high school senior, as he fondly remembers that his high school had a radio station that broadcasted to his local area. Through it all, Labenz has learned some valuable lessons, like the ability to communicate.

“I have definitely learned the power and importance of public speaking,” said Labenz. “When you talk as much as you do when you work in radio, the communication skills in other areas of your life improve, and it definitely helps in teaching.”

After multiple decades working in radio, Labenz finally found FHC and his love for teaching. He feels like he has found a home at FHC and truly enjoys building relationships with his students.

“I love teaching because of the relationships that I have made with the students,” said Labenz. “The students are all so dedicated and I really enjoy teaching every day.”