Professor Carl Fletcher believed. He believed, contrary to popular opinion, that radio is not dying out. He believed that radio is an impactful, personal experience for listeners. His faith in God and in the power of radio made him an influential voice in the lives of students, the Olivet community, and the surrounding area.
Although already successful in professional broadcasting, the communications professor and operations director at Shine.FM chose instead to invest himself in the lives of future broadcasters, communications department chair Jay Martinson said.
“There aren’t adequate words to describe this wonderful human being and the life he lived,” junior Daneli Rabanalez said.
But words continued to pour out on social media and in the classrooms where Fletcher was known after his sudden passing on Saturday, Nov. 7.
“I’ve seen the impact [Fletcher] had on students and where his gifting really lied,” Shine.FM general manager Brian Utter said. “At Shine, we knew him as part of our team, but his main responsibility was as a professor. He was ‘Fletch.’”
Fletcher was born July 21, 1970, in Muskegon, Mich. and graduated from Olivet in 1992. After beginning his radio career, Fletcher returned to Olivet as a professor. He married Camille Smith and had four daughters: Caitlin, who is a freshman at Olivet, Camryn, Carly, and Cara.
When Fletcher was first interviewed for the position at Olivet, communications professor Jerry Cohagan took a look at his previous accomplishments and professional resume and had one question: “[Fletcher], why would you want to come to Olivet?” Cohagan said that Fletcher smiled and simply responded, “Because I’m supposed to.”
“Fletcher left the field of professional broadcasting so he could multiply himself,” Martinson said. “He was a catalyst that encouraged you to change. He reflected Christ all the time. Don’t let his investment be wasted. Be changed. Be better. Be a Carl.”
This past September, Fletcher took a group of radio students to Momentum for Christian Music Broadcasters in Florida where they were given the opportunity to go to Disney World. At the park, the group went on the “It’s A Small World” ride. There was a pause at the end of the ride, and Fletcher decided to lead the group in a rendition of the Doxology, complete with a four-part harmony finish, Rabanalez said. “Everyone joined in singing,” she said.
At conferences like this, Fletcher was typically known as “Professor Fletcher.” Even when he could be meeting with professional broadcasters, he was hanging out with his students, helping them network and making sure they had the best possible experience, Utter said.
“I don’t know where to start with him. He was like a dad to us, or maybe like a cool uncle, because he also felt like our friend,” Rabanalez said.
Random outbursts of singing were typical of Fletcher. “Personally, I’m going to miss the boisterous singing that comes from his office,” Utter said.
General assistant for Shine.FM and Olivet graduate Charles Sheldon said that his singing could be heard throughout the Shine office. “There was just this presence of joy,” Sheldon said.
Fletcher sang in a men’s quartet at Manteno Church of the Nazarene where he was also an Upward Basketball coach, served as a church board member, and helped out with Vacation Bible School during the summer.
Communications professor Mark Bishop said there wasn’t a day Fletcher wasn’t smiling, except when the Packers lost. As a Bears fan, Bishop had a playful rivalry with his colleague, and Fletcher once left a Green Bay Packers Troll on Bishop’s porch.
“As revenge, I’ve been saving a Chicago Bears flag to put in his front lawn when the Bears beat the Packers. It’s been years and I still have the flag, but the Bears still haven’t won,” Bishop said. “Maybe I should tell his wife to look for the flag in the rare case the Bears beat the Packers in the future. When it happens, the flag will fly, and I know he’ll be looking down from Heaven laughing.”
Fletcher told Rabanalez to always smile while on the air. “Putting on a smile helps you. It makes it sound better and more sincere. I do it now whether anyone is in the room with me or not. I’m just smiling into the microphone,” Rabanalez said.
Rabanalez remembered Fletcher once becoming emotional when she interviewed him about the impact of radio. “He believed so much in the power of radio and ministry through radio,” she said. “For the rest of my life I’m going to remember him telling me that radio does matter. Radio is worth it.”