Keith Larsen graduated in 1995 with a degree in broadcast communications. Keith loved his time spent at MxCC, building relationships with his fellow students and his professors. He currently works at AJA Video Systems and freelances on the side, using the skills he learned at MxCC.
Where do you work?
AJA Video Systems, a leading global manufacturer of high-quality and cost-effective digital video acquisition, interface, conversion and desktop solutions for professional broadcast, production and post-production. I also continue to freelance as a Producer/Editor or “Pr-Editor” and I am currently producing a feature length documentary.
What is your job title and duties?
I am currently a Sr. Field Systems Engineer for AJA. That basically means that I travel all around the east coast visiting networks or studios and assist with developing solutions for current and future workflows. I also do training at those facilities, or our value-added resellers such as B&H Photo Video. In between I am at mostly industry trade shows and events presenting our gear. And that’s just the day job!
What originally brought you to MxCC?
Well, after my high school guidance counselor destroyed my dreams of working in comics, I was lost. I ended up working in a factory, wiring these giant test consoles for clients like NASA and Lockheed Martin. Many of the people there saw that I was a creative person toiling the line for a pay check and really encouraged me to get out before I became a “lifer” and wasted an opportunity to do something better. I heard a lot of ads on the radio for the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and thought that radio might be fun. Maybe be a sports talk show host or something, since I love sports as much as comics and movies. Then a friend intervened and told me to go to Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut. They had a renowned communications program and I could dabble in TV as well as radio, while getting an associate degree in the process. When I went to check it out, then-coordinator John Shafer told me that on first impression, he saw me more as a “behind the scenes” TV guy than a radio host. I bristled at the observation, but boy, he couldn’t have been more spot-on! I loved shooting and REALLY loved to edit video.
Did you do an internship at MxCC?
Indeedily doodily. I did one with Rich Coppola at FOX61 in Hartford. Halfway through they offered me a job and I accepted. My hours went from about 15 a week to 50 quickly so I stepped aside as I was still in school and wanted to finish. TV news at a call letter station wasn’t really what I wanted to do anyway. FOX was great about it and I am still good friends with Rich to this day which I really treasure.
How did MxCC prepare you for the workforce?
I spent all of my waking time up there in that department those few years and John—and his successor, Rich Lenoce—really encouraged and bred a hands-on, “use it until it breaks” environment at that school. I also had a group of peers that were so talented and creative at the time. It was a perfect storm. With the creative freedom we were given, all kinds of disposable time, and the pool of energetic and talented students, we began to create some really good stuff.
As an added bonus, the poorly-funded department needed to raise more money to purchase or repair all of this TV technology, so John developed a corporate video program, in which students would be hired by other state agencies or non-profit agencies to produce professional videos for money. We’d get paid a little something for our efforts like a part-time job, and the rest of the money went back into the department to keep it running. It was a win-win! I was also on the student work study program, so I would spend all kinds of time working with Dan Nocera, re-wiring edit suites and learning all about the technical side of the industry. The experience I had wiring those test consoles for NASA and Lockheed came in handy as well. So, by the time I hit the street with my feeble associate degree, I had a complete understanding of how to put together a broadcast facility, as well as a pile of professional production work to use as a resume reel. Sure enough, Quinnipiac College thought enough of that to hire me over 90-plus other applicants with big, fancy degrees. Crazy story, but a testament to my classmates and Middlesex Community College for the absolutely amazing two-plus years of career change learning anybody could receive.
What was your favorite thing about MxCC?
Hands down number one were my classmates. I had an amazing peer group of creative people around me and many of us are still close 20 years later! I’d also give the instructors (both full time and adjunct) a close second on it because they created such a great environment in which to learn and find a footing. Just an amazingly perfect storm at a rough time in my life.