ShareThis Page
Home

Latrobe native shapes MTV programs

| Wednesday, May 8, 2002

The MTV exec who gave members of the Class of 2002 exotic places to party during years of spring breaks will be the commencement speaker Saturday at his alma mater, Clarion University.

Bob Kusbit, senior vice president of production and the man who put "Total Request Live" host Carson Daly on the air, directs more than 75 percent of MTV's programs, including "Spring Break," which features college students partying in hot spots like Cancun.

The Latrobe native graduated from Clarion in 1983. His advice to graduates• Think outside the box.

"The bottom line for me is, no matter where you come from, it's all about the idea and the passion to take that idea what I call 'one louder'."

"In (the movie) ‘This is Spinal Tap,' they follow a fake rock band, and the guitarist has an amplifier that goes to 11. Normal amplifiers go only go to 10, but his has to be better.

"My point is that, in MTV and everything else, everyone else is going to try and crank it to 10; we have to crank it to 11."

Kusbit, who lives in Riverside, Conn., with his wife, Beth, and children Cooper, 7, and Gracie, 2, credits his small-town upbringing for guiding some of his decisions at MTV.

"We can't just think about a New York audience. We are successful because we have things that can relate to everybody in the country," he said from his office in Times Square.

"When we talk about new ideas, in the back of my mind, I am thinking about that viewer in Latrobe." His parents, Walter and Judy Kusbit, still live there.

Kusbit graduated from Clarion with a communications degree, but he didn't always want to work in television.

"First, I was an accounting major. I thought I would play golf and do people's taxes in the winter," he said, laughing.

He changed his mind because many of his friends were communication majors, and he thought what they were doing looked exciting. He said he didn't foresee where his career would lead him.

"Everybody told me there were no jobs, but I lucked into an interview in Altoona and got a job as a cameraman."

His father said it was difficult watching Kusbit pursue a career in a competitive field.

"We always looked forward to hearing his stories about how it was going for him," said Walter Kusbit.

"With each step he took, it was gratifying, but there was always that apprehension. As a parent, you want your kids to succeed."

"When he got a job as a photographer in Altoona, he would stay around and watch the producer. And then he liked producing."

He left Altoona for production jobs in Columbus, Ohio, and then at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. Next, he became a freelance producer, making pilots for Disney and Fox, including one for the syndicated "Gordon Elliot Show." From 1993-96, he worked for Maury Povich's company, MoPo Productions. In 1996, he accepted MTV's offer to have him reinvent programs such as "Unplugged" and "Spring Break."

Kusbit's mom, Judy, said her son's charisma has made him successful.

"It's the way he is. He's pleasant and easygoing; he attracts people to him."

Kusbit said a laid-back atmosphere is key to his success as well as MTV's.

"My office is like a dorm room. There's a Dan Marino jersey on the wall and spring break posters — the whole environment is why we're successful.

He said he hopes to stay at MTV.

"MTV is in my blood, it will always be. Everyone here is my child."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me