Remembering Al Rent
February 22, 1943 – January 17, 2017
By Michelle Kinsey, WIPB/IPR community engagement coordinator
The familiar, friendly face and voice of Ball State University and Muncie has died. J. Allan Rent, better known as Al, passed away Tuesday afternoon after a lengthy illness.
Al had a quote that he would say he lived by.
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”
That simple Dr. Seuss quote, Al said, was the reason why he always made time for people – to listen to them, to encourage them, to inspire them.
And through his 73 years, one person turned into two, then 200, then, undeniably, an unfathomable amount of people who would, of course, think the world of this man.
Count among them the many people who worked at, watched or listened to our public broadcasting stations – Indiana Public Radio and WIPB-TV.
Al had been Executive Director and General Manager of Public Broadcasting here since 2015.
But his support of these stations goes back to their beginnings. Rent was instrumental in the creation of WIPB and IPR and delighted in telling the story of how he was the first person to “fire” David Letterman from his first radio gig. Yes, that David Letterman.
Even when he wasn’t “officially” working at the stations, he would continue to serve as an unofficial ambassador for both, as host of the annual WIPB Telesale (which he would occasionally co-host with his twin brother and fellow broadcaster Andy) and on-air spokesperson for numerous pledge drives for Indiana Public Radio.
Al was a Muncie native and was a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in Speech and Mass Communications. He and his wife Linda had two children and four grandchildren.
Before coming back “home” to WIPB and IPR, Al had a long and distinguished career just steps away from the stations at Ball State University, as Director of Relationship Marketing and Community Relations and Director of Marketing.
His professional broadcasting career also included time as vice president and co-owner of WLBC/WXFN; coordinator of Ball State Radio-TV News; host of the WLBC Morning Show for eight years; offering play-by-play for more than 120 televised Ball State college basketball games on WIPB, and hosting more than 350 public affairs television shows for WIPB.
Al was named Person of the Year in 2010 by The Star Press, and has been honored by the American Advertising Federation with numerous Gold and Silver ADDY Awards, and is a two-time Emmy nominee.
In 2016, Al was also awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash and the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award.
The Chamber of Commerce previously honored Al by naming its annual Spirit of Muncie Award after him, using the award to recognize dedicated volunteers, like Al, in the community.
He co-founded the Muncie on the Move breakfast series, which he hosted for about 30 years; was a founding board member of Huffer Memorial Children’s Center, served on the boards of Muncie Symphony, Minnetrista, Meridian Health Services, the Greater Muncie Area Council on Youth Leadership, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Team.
Al Rent Celebration of Life service
January 21, 2017 – High St. United Methodist Church
Audio – part 1
Audio – part 2
Indiana Weekend Remembers Al
1/21/17 – Here’s Al in his own words, remembering his college days and one of his many philanthropic passions, WIPB Public Television.
Muncie Leaders Remember Al
1/18/17 – As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, many are remembering his positive attitude and his service to charitable causes.
To make a gift to the Al Rent Fund at The Community Foundation of Muncie-Delaware County, click here. From the drop down menu, under “Acorn Funds” choose “Al Rent Honorary IPR/WIPB Public Media Student Fund”
Memorial contributions may also be directed to Meridian Health Services, 240 North Tillotson Ave., Muncie, Indiana 47304 or Minnetrista, 1200 North Minnetrista Parkway, Muncie, Indiana 47303.