KDHR’s and ASI’s Stephen Janes onto new ventures after a 16-year career at CSUDHcsudhbulletin May 11, 2021 0 COMMENTS
(From Left to Right: 2005, 2010, 2018, 2019) Stephen Janes former ASI Program Coordinator, alumni, and KDHR lead makes his departure from campus after his 16-year involvement. All images provided by Stephen Janes composite by Anthony Vasquez.
By Anthony Vasquez, Assistant Section Editor
Whether you saw him working the front of the radio booth, an ASI table at an event, or didn’t see him at all as he worked behind the scenes, Stephen Janes’s work alongside the students he worked with over the years has made campus life prosper. After spending 16 years at California State University Dominguez Hills as radio manager at KDHR and student assistant and program coordinator at Associated Students Inc. (ASI), Janes stepped down in early April to pursue a career fused with his passion for anime, video games, action figures, and fandoms.
Students who enter universities like CSUDH look to succeed in their own ways, but sometimes that success also comes through contributions to the campus that can transcend universities entirely. Stephen Janes’s connection to campus consists of devoting half of his life as a student, worker, and mentor.
After graduating from El Segundo High School, the fall of 2005 marked the beginning of his relationship with CSUDH. With a background in journalism as sports editor and editor-in-chief of his former high school’s student-run paper, his plans were to pursue a career in journalism, but campus life at CSUDH introduced him to leadership positions that not only altered his major but his interest and career.
During student orientation, Janes was shown CSUDH’s radio station, KDHR Radio. Matt Stuart, the station manager at the time, offered him an application and mentioned looking to recruit volunteer students to have their own shows. Janes and Stuart had no idea the relationship that would grow out of this interaction.
Out of curiosity and interest in broadcast journalism, Janes decided to do his own radio show. It would follow a standard format of a Drive-time, where he’d play music and talk sports in-between.
But throughout this time Janes had to find ways to pay for tuition. Coincidentally, Stuart was looking for a student assistant for KDHR and offered Janes the job, a job that marked the beginning to Janes’ legacy with KDHR.
The first roles Janes took on consisted of making sure the studio was in good shape, archiving content, and getting event equipment ready for any on-campus events. After 6-8 months Stuart and Guy Witherspoon, the ASI’s executive director at the time, presented the opportunity for Janes to manage KDHR all while still being a student. The keys to the kingdom had now been given to Janes who had not expected this big responsibility.
“I wasn’t really confident in myself, the fact that I didn’t know everything there was. [Stuart] had a background in computer engineering, audio production…I was just learning this for the first time,” Janes said.
As unfamiliar Janes was with most of the equipment, he did not let that stop him as he taught himself to become the processor of this position.
“The first weekend I literally grabbed every instruction manual I could,” Janes said. “I went to Barnes and Noble, bought $200 to $300 worth of books about audio production, radio production, building PCs, podcasting, anything I could find that was related. I spent just as much as you would on college textbooks.”
The next morning, Janes confidently felt like he was ready to conquer this task but instead found a way to crash the radio station. Despite his error, ASI understood that this was going to be a learning experience and trusted he continue to run the station.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in public relations and audio recording, Witherspoon would offer Janes the opportunity to return as a staff member at ASI as the lead overseeing KDHR Radio.
“As a student, there were only so many things I could do, that’s just how it works when you’re in that position, but as a staff member I was able to kind of make my own decisions,” Janes said.
Through this new position, Janes established an internship program that allowed more students to join. Gradually increasing the number of students involved in the internship as he wanted to set up interns to eventually handle the same tasks he had when he first started as a student assistant. He would also partake in new student orientations and would run KDHR hosted events on campus such as “Name that Tune” and a few “Rock Band Tournaments”.
“I was taking maybe 6 to 9 students in at the time, and it was hard to say no since we’ve all been there wanting to get our hours to graduate,” Janes said.
Leading these students gave him the feeling of a teacher as he walked interns through edits and tutorial-like sessions. Amending the program for each student, he ensured the internship met the needs of students depending on how many hours they needed and making sure they were working on projects that related to the career they were pursuing. An experience he did not have while interning at Universal Music Group.
While prioritizing his students, he continued to work part-time off-campus helping set up audio equipment for charity events, live streaming youth hockey tournaments, or anything else to help get a paycheck.
Seeking financial stability, Janes contacted Michellena Lakey, the current Associate Director, who at the time previously vacated the program coordinator position. Janes, with his accolades and relationship to ASI, expressed his love for working through KDHR and wanting to get a full-time position as the next program coordinator for ASI.
As a student, he did not have the opportunity to engage in events since he was mainly helping organize them. But as a program coordinator, Janes stated he hoped his involvement helped increase school pride and campus culture.
“You walk around seeing people wearing USC stuff all the time, watching UCLA basketball or football games 30 years after they graduated. You’re comparing apples to oranges when we talk about DH and USC, but hopefully, I was able to make an impact,” Janes said.
Janes recalled how incoming students at orientations recognized the radio station and that their reasoning for going to CSUDH was because of ASI’s Spring Fling with 2-Chainz in 2018.
“I remember dropping in tears, I felt like 500 pounds just got taken off my shoulders, even though it wasn’t perfect, it was still a feeling of relief and completion,” Janes said.
When reflecting on his role as program coordinator he spotlighted the importance of students and how they played a vital role in helping him succeed.
“As program coordinator, a lot of the work does fall on my shoulders but because I work with a lot of students, but I’m definitely not sitting here without the dedication, support, and friendship from all these students that I worked with throughout the years.”
“The way that event turned out was exactly how I pictured it. It’s an event I’ll have in my portfolio until I’m 80 to 90 years old,” Janes said.
Jane’s decision to part ways was not an easy one, but the opportunity he was offered had been presented to him by a close friend.
“Even if you find yourself in the dream job, you never know what’s going to be out there,” Janes said. “It was nothing I was looking for. It was a situation that fell into my lap.”
Janes’s new position is as a production specialist for Bluefin Brands/Collectibles, a manufacturer and distributor of collectibles, toys, figures, and more owned by Bandai Namco who are linked to worldwide known franchises such as Dragonball Z, Gundam, and Super Smash Brothers. With his experience with KDHR, he’s able to edit videos and create content for Bluefin Brands’ YouTube.
“You can tell behind me, this is the stuff that I’m into. I love video games, I love anime, I love collecting figures, I love that nerd culture that I’m so engraved in my entire life,” Janes said.
In regards to the possibility of returning to campus, he said anything can happen but nothing is guaranteed.
“I’m still going to be involved when I can. Staff members at ASI are not just coworkers, they’re friends it was really difficult to break the news,” Janes said. “These people that I call boss, that I call co-workers, even though we occasionally butt heads, at the end of the day we’re still friends.”