Van Harden Recipient of The President s Volunteer Service Award ’
Van Harden is all Iowa. He grew up in Adel, just west of Des Moines. There he walked across the street every day to attend school - kindergarten through 12th grade. He then attended Drake University where he received a B.A. in Radio/TV Journalism in 1973. But all of that is secondary. For Van Harden, Christ and family come first. He is married to his lovely wife, Denise, and they have three fantastic children: Drew (married to Melissa), Luke, and Paige. And as an adult, only child, Van spends a lot of time taking care of his mom. In serving her, he discovered the need for, and invented, a timepiece (The DayTeller) to help her remember the day of the week. The product now is used all over the country to benefit the elderly. Not only that, but as a result of a change in his own appetite following a lawn mowing accident in 2004, Van also invented a bread-less pizza that has become popular to those who desire a low-carb, or must maintain a gluten-free, diet.
Van has taught Sunday school for over 20 years. His personality, coupled with his love for God and knowledge of the Scriptures, makes his class ‘standing room only.’ He has also served as an Elder in his church, as well as being active in other areas as he is led by the Holy Spirit. Son Drew says, “Dad has always been a wonderful father to Luke, Paige and I. He has been a Godly role model, always supported us, and guided us into a closer relationship with Christ. He has also sent us all to a Christian school, and made sure we attended church as we were growing up, which has been a huge blessing to us.”
As a local, if not statewide, celebrity, Van Harden is most prominently known throughout central Iowa as the lead personality behind ‘Van and Bonnie in the Morning’ - Iowa’s most listened to radio program. Under Van’s leadership, Newsradio 1040 WHO has won seven national Marconi awards from the National Association of Broadcasters - two of which were awarded to him personally as medium market personality of the year in 1992 and 1997. Trade publication, “Radio, Inc.,” has consistently ranked Van as one of the top-3 program directors in the nation for the last 10 years. Joel McCrea, General Manager at WHO knows why. “Van’s faith permeates everything he does here at WHO. And, he has found the secret to successful radio programming – it’s people. That’s why it is such a pleasure working here… As a leade , he has a way of taking complex issues and reducing them down to something manageable. All of us here, myself included, appreciate his sage wisdom and advice… During a time when WHO radio had lost its way, Van’s leadership resurrected WHO and restored it to the prominence that it has today.” And while his influential role as program director and on-air voice gives him the ear of Iowa’s most notable personalities, business leaders and politicians, those who know Van personally, can attest that his success in the communication industry has not dulled his wit, his creativity, his humility, and most importantly, his faith. In fact, in Van’s unassuming way, his authentic style of communicating on the air, speaks volumes about his love for Christ. Found right here in Urbandale, Iowa, but equipping families all over the country, face to face, through their resources, and their own radio program, “Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg – Your Marriage Coaches,” Gary Rosberg says, “Barb and I have known Van for over 10 years. There are a lot of men around the country that I respect, but more than respect, I admire Van. He is better close-up than he is in public, rich with integrity. Van is a “let me put you on my shoulders to help you win,” kind of guy. He is one of my heroes!”
But more than words, is it not our obedience to the work that God has prepared for us, the true measure of our trust in Christ? Throughout our community, hundreds have benefited from the time Van has given, not only on the air, but in person. Recounting his own start, Van encourages many young, radio aspirants. He supports local Christian radio stations with advice and ideas to help them grow and flourish. Jim Erickson, CEO of the family- owned and Des Moines-based, Anderson-Erickson Dairy, has been a friend and colleague of Van’s for years. AE honored Van and Bonnie several years ago by introducing ‘Van and Bon-Bon’ice cream, still an Iowa best seller. Jim remarks, “I don’t know of anyone that has done more for this community than Van Harden. Just this