September 25, 2022
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Author documents career in Mennonite media in new book

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HARRISONBURG, Va. — It was from humble beginnings that Melodie Davis, at the age of 16, intrepidly stepped into the world of Christian media.

It was on the humble floor of a chicken house that Davis, now 70, a local retired Christian media professional and author, took her first steps toward her field, she said.

“On this day, November 18, 1967,” Davis wrote in her new book, “Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., I decided what I want to be: a Christian writer.”

Davis went on to work for Mennonite Media, now MennoMedia, for 43 years. She started out as a secretary — not her first choice for a job title — and worked her way up to a managing editor role by the time she retired in 2018.

Wanting to provide an updated history on the company and also to share about her experience as a woman in the industry at a time when that wasn’t easy to do, Davis recently published “Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media.”

Davis said she wanted to share the history of her company from an engaging, inside-out perspective, drawing in her own personal life and major world events from the last half-century that illuminate her story.

“Anyone who has memories of ‘The Mennonite Hour’ as it grew into what is now MennoMedia will love this book,” Harvey Yoder, pastor of Family of Hope Mennonite House Church, said in a review. “Melodie’s personal story woven into this church agency’s story makes this a fascinating read.”

Davis said she entered the field when people were asking questions about working mothers on popular radio talk shows of the day, such as “The Mennonite Hour,” that were produced by the company she went to work for.

As the decades went by, Davis, a script writer, said the company expanded into more TV and film media, including documentaries.

“Her insights about collaboration, admitting failures, pushing the edges, caring deeply about the people in the stories and embracing changing opportunities are nuggets of wisdom to glean,” Jerry Holsopple, professor of visual and communication arts at Eastern Mennonite University, said in a review.

Davis said the documentaries were aired by local affiliates of some of the major networks in the 1980s and ’90s. One of the most interesting parts of her career, she said, was answering calls on a phone line for after the show aired.

Davis, who grew up in the Mennonite faith, now attends a local Presbyterian church, which she’s been a part of for decades, with her husband. On the same staircase she posed for pictures on her wedding day, Davis — with her humble smile — posed for a photo with her new book.

“Over the years, I found what I was really enjoying doing was writing,” Davis said. “I realized that it was OK to be a missionary or have a mission right here in Harrisonburg.”

Davis also wrote a column called “Another Way” that appeared in the Daily News-Record in the 1990s and early 2000s. She’s written nine other books and has won numerous awards for her work, including a distinguished service award from EMU and recognition from American Women in Radio and Television.

“I don’t have any evidence of it (on hand),” Davis said. “But some of our stuff won American Women in Radio and Television. I got to go to New York City for a red carpet.”

Davis said she hopes aspiring women journalists, young people starting their career and anyone interested in Christian media history will find her book meaningful. “Memoir of an Unimagined Career” is available on Amazon.

“(I hope) that (readers) can find ways to do things they didn’t think they could do,” Davis said. “Things that challenge you. And just to give it your all and try to do your best work. I had a lot of help along the way.”



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