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Apr  2015 16
New Seminary Relations Director Named

Long-time area journalist, Kurt Gwartney, has joined the staff at Phillips Theological Seminary, his alma mater. He will coordinate the seminary’s communications with students, alumni, trustees, and the public.

Gwartney has been interested in media and communications from a young age, spending half his weekly childhood allowance on 45 rpm records so he could play disc jockey. His professional broadcasting career started at the age of 16 as weekend disc jockey at KOLS-AM/KKMA-FM (now KMYZ) in his hometown of Pryor, Oklahoma. He gradually began doing news work at the radio station, discovering his love for journalism and writing.

Gwartney studied journalism and political science at Oklahoma State University, serving two terms as managing editor of The Daily O'Collegian. He returned to his radio roots while at Oklahoma State, working first as a part-time news producer, then as Morning Edition host at KOSU. While attending First United Methodist Church in Stillwater, he started sensing a call to be more involved in the life of the church.

After helping start a business in Pryor that produced computer training videos, Gwartney followed his call by attending seminary. He first attended The Iliff School of Theology in Denver, before transferring to Phillips where he graduated with honors in 1999 with a Master of Divinity degree. He served as minister of communications at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City for five years before starting his own media business, Discuss Communications LLC. He also taught worship media classes as adjunct faculty at Phillips during that time.

 In 2005, he once again returned to radio as the Operations Manager and Morning Edition host at KGOU. In 2008, he was named News Director at KGOU. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his reporting work and the editorial director for StateImpact Oklahoma, a collaborative reporting project with NPR. He also served on the board of the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters and the national board for Public Radio News Directors, Inc.

Gwartney is past president of the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and still serves on its board of directors. In 2014 he was part of a team of three Oklahoma Public Media Exchange reporters honored to win the national Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi large market/network radio spot news award for coverage of the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado.

Most recently, Gwartney has served with the American Red Cross as regional senior director of communications and as grants specialist. He is one of 20 certified United Methodist Communicators in the nation and a clergy spouse. Kurt’s spouse, the Rev. Charla Gwartney, serves as senior pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Tulsa. They are the parents of Elizabeth, a 9th grader at Bixby High School.

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