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Specs Howard School of Media Arts

19900 W Nine Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48075

Lisa Zahodne

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
Title IV Funding (federal student loans and grants), Michigan Works, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program. All of these programs actually benefit our students, and in turn has helped in the school's growth.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Joe Wade Formicola was the first student to walk in the door and enroll in Specs Howard's radio program. Formicola did go on to work in radio after completing the program and has made a name for himself in the industry. He has been inducted into both the Specs Howard Hall of Fame Career College Hall of Fame, and in addition to several Billboard awards was once named the CMA Major Market Personality of the Year. He currently hosts "The Joe Wade Formicola Show" on 680 WPTF AM in Raleigh, NC. He is also heard on 30-40 stations across the nation as an air personality for Dial Global, an independent, full-service radio network.

Where did you find your first employee?
Dick Kernen was the first full-time employee to join Specs Howard's staff. He had just resigned as the program director at WRIF when two of his friends suggested he look into a job at Specs Howard School. Kernen was unsure about the prospect knowing so little about it, so he offered to work for a month without collecting a paycheck. On April 1, 1972, Kernen became a permanent member of the staff, working in numerous capacities. Today he is the vice president of industry relations and one of the most recognized names in the broadcast industry.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Yes, several of our interns have been hired on full-time in the past few years. Three of them currently work in the marketing department. Nathaniel Kiplinger is the street team's lead producer, Joshua Hill is our promotions manager, and Kathryn Stickley is a copywriter and content producer. A member of our video staff, Aaron Nowack was also hired on as video production/film coordinator as a result of his internship. Moreover, we have hired numerous Specs Howard graduates over the years. We currently have several working on our educational staff, as well as in admissions, career services, operations and marketing.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We try to be fiscally responsible and fund our own capital expenditures when possible, but we have a very good, longstanding business relationship with Fifth Third Bank.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
The automotive companies created a vibrant video production and post-production community here in Michigan. It has since weathered some bumpy patches these past few years, but it is turning around. In radio and broadcast television, Detroit is still considered a major market at No. 11. At the same time, we have really good relationships with small market radio and television stations throughout Michigan, which is where most of our recent grads get started on their careers. There are a lot of artistic, creative and hard- working people here in Michigan that you don't always recognize until you visit other places.

A real collaborative spirit also exists within the educational community in Michigan, which has allowed us to negotiate over a dozen college credit transfer agreements with various colleges and universities.

If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
The economy and the weather. It's March so we're all getting anxious for spring. While the economy is largely a national issue, the changes and problems the automotive industry has faced over the past several years show we really need a more diverse business community here in Michigan. Obviously, we'd like to see everyone working again.

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