On Press Row in Louisville

Mastering Destiny: The Road to Redemption…

♠ Redemption comes to those who wait, forgiveness is the key. ♠

— Tom Petty

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (JSC) — I often bristle when I hear people, most of them under the age of 30, say with their chest puffed out and head held arrogantly high: “I live life with no regrets!” Immediately, I think two things to myself. First: You must not have a lot of friends and your family must secretly hate the ground you walk on. Secondarily: You’re either a ruthless motherfucker, or you are just a posturing asshole. For most of the last decade, I have lived with the festering, angering, mind-blowing regret and guilt over having wasted six of my life at Michigan State University being an abject knucklehead and waste of space. My screwing around during my first 2½ years in East Lansing basically set me back nearly a full 10 years. I have always regretted pissing away those early years at MSU. It gnaws at my soul that because I thought that my shit smelled like the finest spring water with a twist of lemon, I missed out on numerous opportunities while my peers cashed in. I thought that I blew my chance to do what I always wanted to do with my life: Be a working journalist. When I graduated from Michigan State on May 2, 2003, I had no idea where I was headed and what the next eight years would bring. Those next eight years are what will make tomorrow afternoon all the better. The word of the day is: Redemption. Let’s Go.

MSU Graduation 1
5/2/2003: What was the biggest day ever lead to 8 years of uncertainty

The decision to go to Graduate School was not something that I just made in a couple of minutes while sitting on the toilet. It was something that had been in the back of my mind from the moment I walked off the stage at the Breslin Center on that cool Friday afternoon eight years ago. I knew that there was no chance I was getting into any reputable grad program that fall, so I basically just had to figure out what was next. Those of you who know me, know good and damn well what happened next. For the newbies, here’s a quick synopsis:

  • I stumbled upon a flyer for Specs Howard in October 2003. I applied to Specs Howard, put in a year there, graduated with an audio diploma in 2004, and in the process got introduced to radio.
  • In January 2005, I was hired in at 96.5 (WQHH-FM) in Lansing. I initially was a production assistant and fill-in known as Jay Scott (hence the name). Within 8 weeks, I had my own show (Saturday Night Live on Power 96.5). Within 6 months, I had a fan base. Within a year, I had a hit on my hands.
  • In June 2006, it was announced that the station was sold and we all assumed that we were done. When the new company took control on October 1, 2006, I managed to still have a job and was filling in on Middays along with running production and doing SNL. Then, KP (The Midday Host) passed away two days later.
  • Within a month, I was basically forced off SNL and into the Midday slot. What followed was 8 of the worst months ever.
  • On June 29, 2007, the day of my 10-year high school reunion, I quit 96.5.
  • After getting jerked around for 6 weeks by 102.7 in Detroit, I found myself doing weekends and production at WWCK and WDZZ in Flint.
  • It was during that summer that I applied to Wayne State University…and here’s where the story begins.
Working on my Thesis
One of the things I was guilty of at MSU was not applying myself. At Wayne State, that was not a problem.

I was scared to death about applying to Grad School. At that point it had been four years since I had graduated from MSU. My grades were terrible. I graduated from MSU, if you can call it that, with a 2.4 GPA. Let me say that again: TWO-POINT-FUCKING-FOUR. I did so much to damage myself those first 3 years, that I never really recovered. I angrily stormed out of Journalism 200 back in 1999. I changed my major to Communication to spite the professor in JRN 200. It turned out to be the worst decision ever. My grades dropped like a stone and I never really found myself. In the journalism classes I did take, I excelled. I looked at Wayne State as a last ditch effort to hit the reset button on my life.

The first goal was to get into Wayne State, but that wouldn’t be easy. I applied in August, and by December I hadn’t heard back. So I did what anyone would’ve done: I marched down to Wayne State and basically wanted answers. I ended up meeting Dr. Loraleigh Keashley, the department head. Turns out that my shitty MSU grades were not balanced out by my stellar Specs Howard grades (3.7) and they were planning on rejecting me. I met Dr. Keashley, and had about an hour long conversation with her. She decided to give me an opportunity and let me in on a provisional basis. I basically had one shot. Get a B or higher in the intro class, COM 7000, and I’m in. On that cold day in mid-December 2007, I somehow talked my way into Grad School. I’d have to wait until May 2008 to start, so the next few months were spent preparing for the change. In East Lansing, not everything was rosy. I was let go from my part-time job at Comerica the day after I got into Wayne State. I was fired from Cumulus a month later. I was in a relationship that was damaged. I was battling money issues and depression. My life, in a nutshell, sucked. Grad School was the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But it could’ve also been an oncoming train.

I moved back to Detroit (well, Southfield) on April 1, 2008. A terrible day that beset a terrible month. My first day at Wayne State couldn’t have gotten there fast enough. On May 2, 2008, exactly five years to the day that I graduated from MSU, I started at Wayne State. In what might have been the most boring class that I’ve ever taken, I narrowly pulled off a B, finishing the deal with a 26-page lit review and it was on from there. That ensuing Fall semester, I took two classes and took the biggest risk ever by walking into The South End, Wayne State’s student newspaper, trying to get back into writing for the first time in 11 years.

The South End gave me an opportunity to rediscover my love of being a journalist. I had never traveled with a team before. Hell, I could barely remember how to write a lead. My AP skills were stuck in 1999. I wasn’t used to doing interviews with people who didn’t have an album dropping. I had to reinvent myself. I had to shake off the radio simpleton I had become, and get back to being the hungry, angry son-of-a-bitch I was when I went into MSU. And I suddenly found it. The best single semester I ever had at MSU was my second, when I pulled a 3.2. My worst semester of Grad School was a 3.0. I went from nothing written in 11 years, to sports editor covering two sports. I went from one internship in 12 years, to a pair of them within 18 months. Needless to say, the path that I have taken has been unorthodox. When I walk across the stage at Matthaei tomorrow afternoon, it will be the culmination of an eight-year journey through broken dreams, and long nights, and breakups, and road trips, and reborn confidence. In short, I’ve achieved my academic redemption.

On Press Row in Louisville
Livin' The Dream: My Work with The South End allowed me to travel with a team for the first time.

There’s still that matter of finding a full-time job. That will NOT be easy, especially in this shitty economy and considering the industry I am in. But unlike 2003, I have a plan of action and a direction. I have learned the ropes and been through the wringer of dealing with radio and print journalism. I’m not the green-ass rookie I was in 2005 at WQHH. I’m not the immature punk I was in 1999 at MSU. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I scared? A Little. Am I ready? Definitely.

I’m grateful to all the people who have supported me these last three years. Starting with Dr. Keashley for giving me the chance to get into Wayne State, to the teachers and staff at Wayne State for their hard work. To the crew at The South End: There’s too many of you to name, but dammit if you didn’t give me hope that there are some very good and focused journalists left out there. To my close friends and family: Again, you know who you are. Thank you for being there to kick me in the ass and have my back on getting me through a lot of the long arduous nights and days. To the Sports Information Dept. at Wayne State for keeping me laced with all the info I needed when it came to everything. To the crew at WDET: You guys are awesome and hopefully, I will be able to work with you more in the future.

And as much as I hate it when people do this, but to the certain individuals who bailed on me, laughed at me, and mocked what I was doing: I Win.

I’m out of here for now, and thanks to my Graduation, Jay Scott Confidential is back in full swing. And I have a lot of catching up to do on your punk asses. See You Soon.

Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Thursday, May 5, 2011.

The 163rd day since the Detroit Lions’ Last Loss!

Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ

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Jay Scott Smith

What’s Happening! The name’s Jason…but for the sake of this blog, you can call me Jay or Jay Scott. I am a 37-year-old Journalist, Detroit Native, Man of Sigma, and Charismatic Enigma…That About Covers it for me! lol You wanna get in contact w/me, well, here you go! G.O.M.A.B. to my Blu Family! (ΦΒΣ/ΖΦΒ)