Specs Howard School of Media Arts Blog

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    Catching up With Kernen: From the Mailbox

    Posted by Gasper Rubino on Fri, Oct 12, 2012

    From time to time Specs Howard get a letter from a grad helped out by our program, or our career services department. Recently we got one that we thought we should share from RVF 5-11 Radio Grad Joseph Kasak to Brent Carey, Career Services Supervisor.
    To Brent Carey, Career Services,

    I think it was somewhere mid-way through that dark forest that I realized I was lost. So I became lost in thought, and after much philosophizing on the issue of life and dreams came to the conclusion that life wasn't really worth living without at least trying to chase down your dreams. No matter how impossible it seemed, if the task of dream-hunting called for a suspension of perception in terms of obstacles, finances, and other things best truncated to etc., you did it. Anyway, I know I did.

    I was in what I felt was the middle, but soon proved to be the end of a disastrous decade of dismal, dead-end, day jobs. At that time I was hauling wrecks in Southfield and kept driving by the school there on 9 Mile and Evergreen, kicking myself mentally every time. I had wanted to go to Specs right out of high school, but for various reasons best reduced to etc, I didn't. Then I stopped to take a serious personal inventory, and with 89X going most of the evening, had a more than little bird chirruping incessantly in my ear. So, suspending all meandering logic of obstacles like financial obligations (I had just gotten out of debt), I decided to go right back into debt. Only that's a joke, that's not what I really decided, I decided that chasing dreams was a lot more time-consuming than hunting them down and making them a reality. A chase of dreams is too abstract, too head-in-the-clouds vapid to be taken seriously. When you mature, and your dreams come with you, then you marry them with reality and live in that concrete reality. So I did research and found out the Specs Howard School of Media Arts was accredited. Thanks to President Obama's college stimulus, I was able to score grants and loans I probably otherwise couldn't have, and it was largely thanks to the helpful staff at Specs. I was first given the tour by Tammy Ellens and it was Nancy Shiner and (find dude's name) who helped me with the Financial Aid and saved me big bucks.

    So, with the question echoing in my head, did I really know what I was getting into? A season working a rugged full-time job outdoors, with pesticides, which was only seasonal, coupled with a full-time run at a fast-paced gauntlet of technical knowledge and skill. And this old man (aptly, he'd agree) named Dick who keeps destroying any romanticized idealism you may still foster as you enter the doors. Ready? Dude, I live for this. I mean it, life is much more interesting, more concrete than surreal, when you're fully engaged. And I killed it. The knowledge was fun to obtain. And though a return to school after ten years always leaves some people feeling reminiscent, if not nostalgic, it left me feeling confident and reaffirmed. That though I was basically defeated after ten years of shit job after shit job, I decided to just throw it down and grab the nearest dream and make it reality. And thanks to the crew at Specs - Julia (Randi Myles) Belcher, Lyn (Mother Metal) Peraino, the woman of many voices Heather Kozlakowski, and even the resident cynic, Bob Palmateer, sharpened, tuned, (and toned down, when necessary) the skills as I honed them, and as a well deserved aside, are what all educators should strive to be: knowledgeable, approachable, competent, and real. But I have to take some of the credit, because I really worked hard to finish at the top of the class and I made it. But what's the next challenge?

    Enter Brent Carey. Career Services... Mastermind.

    Sure, I had used the Specs Spotlight project to garner an internship with The Craig Fahle show on 101.9 F-M W-D-E-T through my own sheer wit and determination, but anyone can work for free. It was Brent who made the real deal happen.

    I went back to work fertilizing lawns while trying to pay down debts, keep brushing up skills and look for work, but Brent always had the great leads. For a great starting point, he pointed me towards WLEW in Bad Axe, up in the thumb. And I though I killed the interview there, I couldn't secure a move-in, or really a move-out of here to get the job. Brent made sure I didn't lose hope, and reassured me, that I was "too smart to be a career part-timer". Part cynicism, part arrogance, part... real-life know-how told me that I was too smart to settle for less also. And Brent took up that challenge.

    I remember the day he called with the job lead that led me to writing this letter in the first place, and I asked the few necessary and vital questions so that I could do my research. This was a gold mine. I listened to the show, researched the host, read up on the station itself. And I couldn't wait. After a week, I called Brent back bouncing around excitedly about how psyched I was, that this was, in fact, a dream job of sorts. Political talk, with the lean in my direction. A host who, as I learned in the interview with him, is the same on the air as off. But why hadn't I heard yet? This was all good news for Brent, because not only was I excited, but I had done my research. But, as a few weeks ticked by, I started to think maybe my resume didn't cut it or something dismal, and as I'm trudging up the stairs to my apartment, coming home, early, once again, from work due to rain, the phone rings, and I answer it in a flatter hello than Brent would have permitted, but quickly change my tune when I hear, "Joseph, hello. It's Tony Trupiano, did Brent say I'd be calling you?" and after I secure the interview I just have to wait a week until the date of.

    The interview was non-traditional, so my advice to anyone reading this who cares to heed it, be ready for anything. Suit and tie, to shorts, whatever. This interview was a "come as you are", very laid-back "chat" in a restaurant. Be yourself most of all in these situations, because anyone who is keeping it real with you, can pick up on when you're not. I'm incapable of being phony, so I didn't have to worry much. Besides, my personality already makes me a great fit for a progressive talk show. I even come with the UAW background. We hit it off very well and I waited for his final judgment, but not for very long. The next day at work, spreading noxious plant food around a weedy yard, Tony called back and offered the job, if I still wanted it. "Why wouldn't I!?" I mean, this guy already caught me smiling and being in a really good mood, he had my ticket. Better to resume the ride, this is the part where it gets interesting.

    And now, that catches everything up to speed for the most part. But I couldn't have done it without most of the staff at Specs, and definitely not without you, Brent. So I hope you'll accept this letter as a token of my sincerest gratitude for all that you do at the school. And most of all, for keeping it real, and not letting me get downed by life after I came this far. Thank you so much for helping me turn an abstraction into something concrete, a dream into reality. And to Dick Kernan for reminding me just now that it's a hell of a foot in the door.


    Joseph Kasak

    RVF(R) 5-11

    Topics: Letters, Career Services Letters, Career Service, Uncle Kernen, Brant Carey, Joseph Kasak, Specs Grads, News

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