GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Over the last 50 years, West Michigan has gone through tremendous change, but there was one constant on the airwaves.
Broadcast personality Andy Rent has spent decades on the air in Grand Rapids as he gets ready to celebrate his golden anniversary.
Sunday, radio personality Rent will reach a major milestone that many broadcasters never achieve — 50 years on the air in various roles for both television and radio in West Michigan.
His first stop in the market was in 1969 at WOOD TV8.
“I remember walking in and saying, ‘I’m ready to go!’ They said ‘well, we just want you to sit in the booth.’ We had live announcers back then who had to do station breaks. They said ‘(it’s the) first day, get your feet wet.’ So, I did and the first words I said in Grand Rapids were ‘Colorful WOOD TV Grand Rapids.’ I was so nervous I thought I was going to faint,” he recalled.
That was just the beginning of several broadcast roles Rent would take on in Grand Rapids, like Captain Woody, the host of a WOOD TV children’s program and weekend weatherman alongside WOOD TV’s Buck Matthews.
“I think one of the things that has made it possible for him to last 50 years in the business is that he’s just himself,” Buck said. “He is no different off the air than he is on the air, which that’s the key to me in broadcasting success. He’s just a nice guy and people sense that.”
Rent says various job offers outside of West Michigan through the years could never pull him away. It’s his love for this community that created such deep roots.
Chuck LaTour worked with Rent for 11 years. He says giving back is what Rent is all about.
“We always used to call him Waldo. Where’s Waldo, in other words where’s Andy? He’s everywhere. He’s emceeing events, he’s in charity events, he’s giving of his time. I don’t know where he gets all this energy. I don’t know where he gets it,” said LaTour, who is now an assignment editor for WOOD TV8.
Looking back over the last 50 years, Rent says it hasn’t always been easy, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“If you’re not afraid to grow and change then that can be fun. It can be a fun ride and it’s really been a fun ride,” Rent said. “But I don’t look in the future that much. I look at today. I look forward to the future, but I never know quite what tomorrow is going to bring, but I’m ready for it.”
People can hear Rent’s morning radio show on 100.5 The River.