Indiana State University Newsroom

Sycamore expands horizons with ESPN3, radio and newspaper

March 23, 2017

Around the age of 13, Rob Lafary, '17, learned he was too short and too slow to play professional sports. "When you're little and into sports like I am, professional basketball or baseball are what I wanted to do, but that obviously didn't happen," James "Rob" Lafary said. "Maybe if I was taller or faster, but media has combined my love of sports with the skills I actually have."

Lafary is no longer trying to make it big in the sports industry as an athlete, but he is now pursuing his sports dream from a media angle. He is learning and succeeding in Indiana State University's Student Media.

A Versailles, Ind. native, Lafary is a senior communication student with a focus in journalism. He began his work in media at a local radio station, WIKI, in Madison, Ind. He started at Indiana State in August 2014. After attending a job fair during his first semester without any luck, he applied to the Indiana Statesman newspaper.

"I went to a student job fair, I didn't see anything that really stood out, and so I went to the Statesman office" Lafary said.

Within five minutes of leaving his resume with the newspaper, the Statesman staff offered him the job of sports editor.

"I still work for the Statesman, just in a different capacity now," Lafary said. "I was the sports editor two years ago and last year. Over the summer, I transitioned into the sales side, so now I am the student advertising manager and write on the side when they need me."

Lafary also works for Indiana State's Sports Network producing content for ESPN3, and has done work with most departments within Student Media.

"I've done things for WZIS, the radio station, and broadcasted games," Lafary said. "I've held my own show called ‘Sycamore Game Day' on WZIS and worked on ESPN3 and the Statesman."Before coming to Indiana State, Lafary worked at a local radio station in Madison, Ind.

"This is my 12th year of broadcasting and writing," Lafary said. "Student Media has helped me expand my horizons. I was so used to radio, and Student Media has provided me the opportunity to expand my broadcasting and writing. Now I can say that I've done things for ESPN and done advertising work."

Not only has Lafary learned about different forms of media, he has also been able to cultivate relationships with people in the field.

"My boss, Brian Fritz, has been my biggest mentor here," Lafary said. "He is more than a boss though. I consider him a really good friend because he's been there to help me with career and life issues."

Fritz, media sales consultant for Student Media, saw himself in Lafary when they first met."Rob's seriousness reminded me of myself when I was a college student," Fritz said. "It was very apparent in interactions with Rob that he was serious about acquiring and developing skills that would help him succeed."According to Fritz, their friendship is not a rarity as the staff on campus works to help students."I have several former students that I have stayed in contact with through the years and I'm sure Rob will be one of those even after he graduates," Fritz said. "The most rewarding thing about my job is not only seeing students develop and graduate, but also following their progress as they begin building successful professional lives as young adults using things they learned while at Indiana State."

Lafary has found success with the skills he developed from working with Student Media. While baseball and basketball did not work out for him, radio did. Lafary has a career waiting for him post-graduation with WIKI in Madison, Ind.

"The radio station I work for back in Madison offered me a job over winter break," Lafary said. "I am going on as a full-time production director, and I will be doing sports broadcasts still along with selling advertisements on the side."

Student Media is designed to have students practicing skills they can use in the media field."Rob has come a long way and done a lot during his time in Student Media," said Rich Green, WISU/WZIS general manager. "He is the perfect example of what students should get out of Student Media. The work he has done in news writing, radio, and TV are skills he can take directly to his career."Much of what Lafary has learned in Student Media is applicable to his career with WIKI.

"I can take some of the stuff that I know from writing and selling advertisements for the Statesman and bring that to WIKI," Lafary said. "WIKI will be more challenging than anything I've done in Student Media because there is less room for mistakes, but every day that brings a challenge my way and it's a chance to accept that challenge and make the product better."

Student Media has allowed Lafary to reach his goals, and he recommends it to students considering joining.

"[Communication majors] are not going anywhere if they don't get involved in media," Lafary said. "I've met so many people who say they have these media goals and want to work in things like broadcasting or on TV, but they don't do anything about it."

Lafary encourages communication students to join Student Media so that they learn as much as they can before leaving college.

"The more you are in media, and the more effort you put into it, the more you will get out of your time in Student Media," Lafary said. "Hopefully all of the work helps you find a career that you are passionate about."

Media Contact: Morgan Gallas, strategic communication specialist, Student Media, Indiana State University, (219) 246-1805 or