Chester Smith: Small Market Pioneer
Born in Durant, Oklahoma in 1930, Mr. Smith moved with his family to California at the young age of six. They settled in a place called ‘Tranquility” – a farm-labor camp, picking cotton and fruit. But young Chester had a different kind of “pickin'” in mind and at the tender age of nine, he went with his dad to Fresno and got himself a weekly gig singing Gene Autry tunes on the radio.
At 16, Mr. Smith dropped out of high school – he has since received an honorary diploma from Modesto High School – to become a popular country and Western disc jockey in Modesto. He then landed a contract with Capitol Records and performed each week on the CBS television affiliates in Fresno and Sacramento.
The 1960’s brought change to Mr. Smith’s life. As his crowds were thinning, he became increasingly more interested in “moving to the other side of the desk” and becoming an entrepreneur, much like his idol Gene Autry had done. In 1963, Mr. Smith launched the first full-time country radio station in Modesto. This would begin a run in broadcasting in which Mr. Smith has owned a TV station at one time or another in every small market in northern and central California and northern Nevada.
Mr. Smith’s company, Sainte Partners, currently owns six stations and three large communications-transmitting sites and is always looking to expand.
If you’re a young businessman in need of some advice – Mr. Smith’s suggests: “Study the Bible every day, talk to Jesus, learn what he is saying to you, and trust Him with child-like faith. Find the plan that God has for your life.”