Randy Ray: From bass player to professor

This is the cover art for Legend 7's album Legend by the artist Legend.

Cover art copyright belongs to the label, Word Records.

This is the cover art for Legend 7’s album Legend by the artist Legend.

SRandy Ray, director of broadcast engineering and an associate lecturer of media communication at West Texas A&M University, has been a professor at WTAMU for the past 18 years. Ray has had years of experience in the media field, from writing for a newspaper to managing a large soundstage. Not only is Ray seasoned in mass media, but he has also brought this knowledge into his teaching.

Ray grew up in Pampa, Texas, where he graduated in 1980. Pampa wasn’t just where he gained his education and life experiences, this small town gave birth to Ray’s love for the media.

“I can remember watching movies at the Capri Theatre. I saw Star Wars, when it first came out in 1977, at least eight times,” Ray said in an interview for the Pampa High School Hall of Fame. “When I was 18, some buddies and I made a couple of 8mm movies. That is when the creative bug really bit me. I knew then that I wanted to be in some type of creative field.”

From Pampa, Ray graduated from WTAMU in 1984, and then graduated from graduate school at Middle Tennessee State University in 2002.

“When I graduated from WT, I got married and my wife and I moved to Nashville. So I worked in a lot of different media out there. I did work at a recording studio, several different recording studios. I managed a really large soundstage so I worked on movies and music videos. I wrote for a newspaper out there. I worked in audio and video production out there so really I have touched on pretty much all the different parts of the media,” Ray said.

Along with various media job opportunities, Ray was able to experience life within the music industry. Back in the early 90s, Ray reconnected with some of his friends from Amarillo, Texas when he and his wife moved to Nashville, Tenn. He had always been a musician, so they formed their band Legend Seven.

“We got a record deal with Word Records, which was a really big Christian record label, back then. And through that we did two national CDs, each one of them sold about 30,000 CDs. We’ve toured all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. So I was on the road a whole lot, about five years. We had several number one hits around the Christian charts,” Ray said.

Ray also had the opportunity to help write what ended up being one of his favorite songs.

“One of my favorites is a song that I wrote with a guy by the name of Dan. Dan House is a big time producer, now he’s produced Bon Jovi and Carrie Underwood, and a lot of people who played on. He’s played on Michael Jackson records. He’s really a world famous producer and guitar player and Dan and I wrote a song together called ‘Soul Surrender.’ Always been been special to me since I was able to write with somebody like him,” Ray said.

From working in various media positions to bass player, Ray returned to WTAMU in 2002 where he has been able to use his experiences to teach.

“I’m training them to be media literate. I cannot stress that enough I think it’s so important. These days, with media blasting us from every direction, social media, television, movies, music, all forms of media, we, we, as educated citizens must be media literate.” Ray even stated in his WTAMU biography, “I try to express to students the same thing I learned when I was here: to have high goals and work hard, and it can happen.”

While Ray wants to produce media literate students, he is also trying to prepare many to work within the creative field.

“You just have to stay hungry. And by that I mean you got to be really willing to work really hard. You got to work harder than everyone else because there’s a lot of people out there that want to do this. So you’ve got to set your goal, and set your mind on achieving your goal. And you got to be laser focused and given all you got. And stay hungry,” Ray said.