From IWU Magazine, Spring 2012 edition
In addition to his writing and radio work, Jay also writes, blogs and speaks about
being a husband and father, "I want husbands and fathers to know they're important
and to share a few ideas they can use in real life," he says.
Author-producer-husband-father Jay Payleitner '79 puts family first.
Story by SARAH (ZELLER) JULIAN '07
Whether he's writing, speaking or producing, the No. 1 priority in Jay Payleitner's
life is being a family man. The producer of well-known Christian radio shows and author
of eight books has found inspiration for his work from his own wife and children.
"My family is my ministry," says Jay. "I just write and present what I've seen work
in our lives and in the lives of other men and their families." His most recent book,
52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands, was published in February. He and his wife, Rita, have raised five children and fostered
10 more at their home in St. Charles, Ill.
A 1979 Illinois Wesleyan graduate, Jay majored in theatre arts. Upon graduation, he
took the first job he was offered — selling photocopiers. "I was terrible at it, but
I learned much. About myself. About business. About what motivates people to do what
they do." Deciding he needed to appeal to his creative talents, he embarked on a new
career path. He pounded the pavement at advertising agencies along Chicago's Michigan
Avenue, finally landing a job where he worked with big-name clients like Midway Airlines
But after five years, Jay felt that something was missing. "I had two small sons at
home and a commute that kept me away from home from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.," he recalls.
"I knew I needed to make a change."
The opportunity presented itself when Jay found a position at a smaller agency that
specialized in radio programming for Christian publishers and ministries. "That really
changed my career and my life," he says. As a radio producer, he has worked with well-known
Christian leaders like Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell and Phyllis Schlafly and has produced
work for organizations like the Bible League, The Voice of the Martyrs and Guideposts magazine. One of his current projects, "Today's Father," is a daily broadcast that
airs on more than 400 radio stations.
In his career, Jay has received as much as he has given. "From people like Josh and
Chuck, I learned integrity. These men are the same people behind the scenes and in
front of a crowd or a camera," he says. "What I brought to the table was honesty,
a sense of purpose and a good awareness of what motivates people to do what they do.
Even with veteran communicators, I was never afraid to say, 'Let's do one more take'
or 'Could we say that another way?'"
In addition to his radio work, Jay also writes, blogs and speaks about being a husband
and father, a passion that has increased since his time as executive director of the
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative.
"Men are taking a beating today in the media, courts, church and public arena," he
says. "Most of the guys I meet are working hard to build a career and keep their family
together. When I speak to a room full of dads on a Saturday morning, my goal is just
to help them find a little more joy and contentment for today and a fresh vision for
the future. I want husbands and fathers to know they're important and to share a few
ideas they can use in real life."
In his writing and speaking, Jay often finds that the best way to communicate is through
humor. "You can't be a husband, dad, salesman, copywriter, producer, journalist, professor,
teacher or influencer without connecting on a personal level. Humor is part of that,
and thankfully it comes natural to me," he says. "No one will take you seriously until
they know you are real, have flaws, have a sense humor and care about them."
Jay celebrated his first book publication in 2003 with the release of the modern parable
Once Upon a Tandem. "My first book was a story that touched my heart and had to be told," he says. "It
was only 1,200 words, but it took 12 years from first draft to bookstore shelves.
The next seven books have come a little quicker, but only because I have logged so
many hours at the keyboard."
All of Jay's past experiences, including his time at Wesleyan, have helped him carve
out his niche. "It's stunning how God has used the entirety of my experience to mold
me into the author/producer/husband/father that I am today," he says. "In 1979, I
wrote and directed a one-act play in the IWU Lab Theatre. I can absolutely see the
direct link between that experience and what I do today."
To visit Jay Payleitner's website, click here.