Zack Gustine, a 1996 Hayfield High School graduate, lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and just moved back to our area this summer.
"I'd gone out to L.A. for the change of scenery and for the weather," he said. "I had been working in TV and radio in Los Angeles and thought I would live in L.A. for the rest of my life, but I'm very glad to be back."
He came back to be closer to his family.
"My older brother (Gus Lynch, a very big name in the Minnesota comedy scene) died," Gustine said. "He had an accident down in Mexico after a really bizarre turn of events and he died down there. When I came home for his funeral, I realized that I'd been back to visit three times in three years and they were all for funerals. I just decided enough is enough and I wanted to be with my mom. So I decided to come back.
"I got my affairs in order and first decided to just come back for a little while, but it felt a lot better to be back here than I expected, and it was such a warm welcome," he said. "I was so glad to be back."
Gustine now works for Kahler Hospitality Group, which is another way he is going back to his roots.
"A big part of how I got into radio was being a bartender in L.A.," he said. "That's how I was discovered. Magic Matt Alan and his spousal equivalent, Lori Downey Jr. (the widow of Morton Downey Jr.), came into my bar, and we started talking. I didn't know who he was, but he found out really quickly that I was a huge radio head and really knowledgeable about radio all around the U.S.
"As we were talking about some of the radio personalities I really respect, I mentioned Joey Reynolds and Casey Kasem and Shadoe Stevens, and these are all guys that Matt is friends with," he said. "These guys are all the Michael Jordans of radio, and this circle of friends had all congregated in L.A. I became a part of that circle when I was a frequent cast/co-host on Matt's show, 'Outlaw Radio.'"
"Those 'heroes' of mine eventually became my coworkers," Gustine said. "Magic Matt Alan as the host, Lori Downey, Jr., as a producer, and Shadoe Stevens, Howard Lapides, and myself were the 'cast of regular characters,' and we always had celebrity guests like Rick Dees. We were on locally and in syndication and on the Internet and had a million and a half listeners."
Gustine is heading back to L.A. next week to be a part of some big radio shows for New Year's weekend.
Joey Reynolds (host of "The Late Joey Reynolds Show" on WABC in New York) is doing a New Year's Day special in L.A. and invited me to be a part of it, so we are going to be doing a show from KABC studios in L.A., and it will be on KABC, WABC, and WLS-TV in Chicago, along with a few other TV channels carrying it," Gustine said. "I'm pretty excited to be a part of that, and Outlaw Radio is on Saturday, which is New Year's Eve, so I'm hoping to go jump back in with them as well."
As far as getting into radio or TV here, Zack said, "I don't have any plans to go anywhere, but I don't have any plans to stay. I'm just living in the moment.
"You know what I really would like to do?" he said. "I'd like to co-anchor the news on Fox 47 with Tori Bokios. I never was interested in doing TV (on camera) out in L.A."
Regardless, Gustine does have a lot of TV production experience and ran a studio when he was out there.
"I built a studio right on Hollywood and Vine, and was also the director of operations and facility manager for the studio," he said. "I always tried to stay behind the camera, because that is where I felt most effective." (He worked on the program "Hollywood Today Live.")
"I remember the minute Fox 47 came on the air and have been a fan since the beginning," Gustine said. "I've always loved that station and their format. When I came back to this area and started watching again, I thought Tori is great, there is just something about her that I liked with her personality and her attitude. And I thought I could sit next to that girl at a desk and we could be the No. 1 news team in town. So, yeah, my dream job here in Rochester would be working there."