People of Distinction with Benjie Cole (son of Al Cole from CBS Radio) features Rosser McDonald, author of Real Prison Real Freedom.
McDonald is a veteran in broadcast media who got his start as a reporter for local radio and TV stations in Oklahoma and retired as an award-winning TV producer for the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission in Texas. He spent 16 years as a news reporter in both states and then 28 years as a TV producer for the SBC. McDonald also produced and scripted documentaries for use on NBC TV stations.
He met his wife, Glenda, at Oklahoma Baptist University. Glenda is a life-long musician on piano and organ.
Called to broadcasting
“I’ve always had this feeling in the back of my mind or maybe in the heart that I wanted to be in broadcasting,” McDonald told his host Benji Cole about his entry into broadcast media. “I have had a lot of speeches in drama classes in high school and one journalism course in college. So, I started looking for broadcast jobs.
“I got a job in a radio station. I sat up for years and then moved up to a radio and television operation way down southeast in Oklahoma. After five years there, I went to Tulsa and concentrated on the news for the NBC station in Tulsa. I was concentrating on news, doing documentaries, and so on and so forth.
“I was on a track I wanted to do. I enjoyed doing what I did in terms of news, documentaries, and so on. It was great. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Called to broadcast the Good News
Rosser, who grew up in a middle-class Christian home, eventually made his ministry out of broadcasting.
“It was like God said to stop telling the bad news and tell the Good News. I moved to the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission in Fort Worth. I was there as a television producer for 27 years.
“I was producing a lot of television programs, some in the studio, but most were out in the field, documentary-style. Along the way, I received a number of awards, including two Emmy nominations. And for twelve years, I produced an hour-long program for NBC to use as part of their religious affairs programming.”
What “Real Prison Real Freedom” is all about? Who is Rickie Smith?
McDonald’s book real Prison Real Freedom tells the story of Rickie Smith, who is said to be “the most violent prisoner in the Texas Department of Corrections.” This book tells about Rickie’s early life, his sad descent into crime and imprisonment, and his religious conversion.
How did McDonald get to meet “the most violent prisoner in the Texas Department of Corrections”?
“I met Rickie Smithin 1990,” said McDonald. “I had done a number of programs in prisons, where I did interviews and various things over the years. I was there working on one of those NBC programs on prison ministries.
“A volunteer chaplain inquired about Rickie Smith having become a Christian, so he took me back into Super Segregation, which is the deepest, darkest lockup they have in the toughest prison they own in Texas. I got to meet Rickie at that point. To me, he was just a nice guy as you would ever want to meet because, you know, he now is a Christian.”
McDonald explained the meaning behind the book title. “The book title ‘Real Prison’ relates to the fact that Texas prisons are tough. They have a reputation over many years of being tough. A federal judge said, ‘I’m gonna take over your prison system because you are treating inmates inhumanely, unconstitutionally.’ So, he did take over. That’s one of the themes in the book as well.
“Rickie, because of his violence, was tucked away back in special cells built for him and 17 others gang members such, like the Aryan Brotherhood and other gangs. They put those most violent people back in this special cellblock that they built just for them. That’s where Rickie was when I met him.
“That is talking about ‘Real Prison.’ You couldn’t find any more real prison than what Rickie was experiencing there in the Texas Department of Corrections.
Of ‘Real Freedom,’ McDonald said, “Rickie had been introduced to God from his childhood up. For a brief time, he seemed to be that he was going to get along with the church, the prison, and God. But that seemed to fall apart because his parents were divorcing. He was upset about that yet prayed and asked God to keep his family together.”When his parents divorced, Rickie abandoned his faith in God.
Make sure to listen to the whole interview.
Rosser McDonald’s “Real Prison Real Freedom” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the author’s website at https://rossermcdonald.com