At Telos Alliance, a lot of our people have a background in broadcastiing in some form or fashion, whether it be TV or Radio. Jim Kuzman, Senior Content Strategist, is one of those rare birds with experience in both realms of broadcast. Learn about Jim's wealth of experience in the industry and his career with the Telos Alliance.
What is your history with Telos and how did your new role come about?
In the summer of 2011 I was living in Orlando, working for Radio Disney, and got the itch to do a bit of writing on the side. I called Frank (Foti) out of the blue - I’d known him as an Omnia customer when I worked in Columbus - and asked him if he had any need for a freelance technical writer. Turns out he did and a month later I was on a plane to the Netherlands to meet Leif (Claesson) so that I could write the first manual for Omnia.9. Afterwards Leif introduced me to Tim Carroll who was looking for a full-time technical writer for Linear Acoustic, and I began my career with Telos Alliance in November 2011.
My new role as Senior Content Strategist came about from a combination of different factors. Part of it was me trying to find a place in our organization that was more aligned with my interests and what I felt were my strengths. Part of it was Jayson Tomlin in our TVSG group identifying the need for someone who could look at things from a high level point of view and ask challenging questions about how and why we do things a certain way. Sometimes it’s about branding, sometimes it's making sure our marketing messages are on point, and sometimes it’s about product development and evolution. Ultimately though it’s about removing any barriers that would keep our TVSG sales team from generating revenue, but the role crosses over into the radio side of things too.
You have a background in broadcast engineering. Tell us a little about that.
I got started in radio mid-way through college at Youngstown State University. I landed an internship at WKBN-TV in their newsroom which led to a series of part-time jobs at ‘KBN in TV and radio - everything from copywriting to continuity to production. I always hung around the engineering shop though and ended up board-opping talk radio programs. That’s where I discovered first my passion for audio processing. I had a couple of great mentors in the Youngstown market (and later in Columbus) and met Frank through our local SBE chapter when I coerced him to do a program for one of our meetings showing off the Cutting Edge Unity 2000i. We raced it against our chain and the competition and I’ve been an Omnia fan ever since. In 2001, I was working as the assistant engineer at North American Broadcasting in Columbus and convinced my boss to let me get a demo of the Omnia.6 when it first came out. He let me play with it on the bench for almost a week. We put it on the air and it blew everyone else away. We had other engineers and program directors in the market calling us asking what we had done. So like a lot of my colleagues at Telos, I was a customer long before I was an employee.
Likewise, your experience with the Telos Alliance, and perhaps before you joined us, seems to be on both the Radio and TV side of things. How does that experience benefit you?
I started on the radio side before I was an employee working with Leif and writing the O.9 manual and ultimately got hired by Linear Acoustic on the TV side, but regardless of how things were organized within the Telos Alliance and how things have shifted over the past 6 years, I’ve somehow managed to freely criss-cross geographical and brand boundaries. I’ve always felt just as at-home hanging out in the Cleveland office as I have in our Lancaster office. I really love the people I get to work with in both locations regardless of whether it’s radio or television or which of our brands we’re talking about. Maybe it’s because I kept inviting myself to get involved with things and assuming I was welcome unless someone told me to get lost! That has certainly helped in my new role, as a big part of this job is thinking beyond all of those borders.
General thoughts on the Telos Alliance?
No other company in our industry has attracted the kind of talent we have, and no one has the line-up of brands that have become the industry standards in their particular categories. I challenge anyone to find a radio or television station that doesn’t have at least one - and probably dozens - of our products in it. I think that success has a lot to do with our culture. We’re encouraged to think. To challenge. To try new things. To make mistakes. To do the right thing by our customers. I can go to sleep at night knowing that I work for a company that believes in me, supports me, and operates with integrity. That’s a big deal for me.
You're a northeast Ohio native who fairly recently moved back to Ohio from Florida... what precipitated the move?
I am a proud Buckeye by birth AND by choice! I grew up in Girard, Ohio, just outside of Youngstown, and moved back to my hometown three years ago. A lot of people who have never lived anywhere else tend to get down on this area for reasons like the economy, the weather, and the lack of big city excitement. But it isn’t until you live somewhere else that you truly appreciate all that we have here. People from northeast Ohio are kind, friendly, generous, and genuine. There’s a strong sense of community here. We still know our neighbors. People trust one another. There’s enormous cultural diversity and tolerance. But the two biggest reasons for moving back were, believe it or not, the weather - I love that we have four seasons, including winter - and my family. I still have lots of family here - sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course my own kids and a grandson. Girard just feels like home.
When you aren't working, you're…
Oh man! Where to start. My three big hobbies are photography, music, and landscaping/gardening. I have no artistic abilities whatsoever for things like painting or drawing beyond stick figures, so photography gives me a visually creative outlet. Plus I’m a total gear nut, so cameras fascinate me mechanically and technically too. I’ve played the piano and organ since I was 7 years old, studied music all the way through college, and served various churches as a music minister over the past 30 years. Last year I decided to teach myself how to play the bass guitar just to learn something different and keep my mind from going mushy, so I’m having a lot of fun with that. And any chance I get, I’m out in the yard cutting the grass, pulling weeds, planting flowers and tending my little vegetable garden. I love being outside year round. I would say that I’m a golfer too, but that’s not really true. I’m really a hack who happens to own golf clubs and enjoys walking on nicely manicured grass.
Any family details?
This past December I married my best friend and partner of 9 years, Abe. I’m not sure what exactly he sees in me sometimes but I’ve stopped asking questions figuring he’s stuck around this long, so… I also live just two blocks away from my son Patrick, my daughter Caitlin, her husband Chad, and my grandson Axel. I’m blessed with great kids, family is super important to me, and it’s a blast being so close to them.
Learn more about some of our people behind the scenes at Telos Alliance in these blog posts: