By Jody Steinberg
Paula Abdul, Miranda Cosgrove, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Nick Jonas, Keke Palmer, John Sena. Jeff Kinney, Michael Buckley and Lisa Lillien.
What do these popular entertainers and authors have in common?
Each of them has been interviewed by 12-year-old Atlantan Max Kantor for his weekly Kid Power Radio webcast and podcast show (www.kidpower.libsyn.com).
Known as “Radio Star Max,” he has turned natural talent, hard work and determination into his own fame.
He has been working toward that goal since he stepped into the studio three years ago after watching David Letterman and telling his dad, “I can do that.”
Max, a student at Ridgeview Charter Middle School started with a few advantages. His dad, Lee Kantor, is a radio show producer with his own studio, while mom, Abbe Kantor, does marketing for The Coca-Cola Co. It was Mom who introduced Max to Lisa Lillian (hungry-girl.com), who offered an introduction to Nickelodeon star Miranda Cosgrove.
Since that time, Max has built a word-of-mouth reputation as the kid with the radio show. It’s earned him some pretty heady celeb interviews, and a coveted stint on the orange carpet at the 2009 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, where he wielded his microphone alongside American media’s top-tier interviewers. How did that happen?
“It took a year of planning,” recounts Max. “Then, one day I came home to the message that Miranda wanted to do the show tonight, here’s her cell phone number, call her when you’re ready. Miranda was my first big interview, and it was such a big deal for me because she’s so well-known for [the TV show] ‘iCarly’ and [the movie] ‘School of Rock.’ Just talking to her was a big honor.” But Max also got to meet her. As the interview ended, the cheeky host asked one more question.
“I asked her if she wanted to bring me to the Kids’ Choice Awards, and she said she’d love to.”
Last March, Max flew out to Los Angeles to be on the orange carpet, wielding a microphone as celebrities arrived for the awards.
As the novice on the paparazzi gauntlet, Max wasn’t quite ready for the fast-paced flow of celebrities who arrived, so he found a few mentors willing to help him hone his skills.
“I was so nervous. There are so many celebrities and you really want to be on your game. The ET [Entertainment Tonight] producers let me interview their interviewer [Kevin Frazier], and that was really cool because he had been everywhere,” he said. “It was really big.”
Before the night was over, Max had shared the carpet with dozens of America’s top entertainers and interviewed many of them. He parlayed his night with the stars into some clips for his show.
Of course, having your own radio show is not all glamor. It’s hard work to write content and record the show every week when you’d rather go outside or play on the computer, says Max. He reviews books, movies, TV shows, video games, products, local sites and restaurants, shares a celebrity quote each week, discusses school events and interviews less famous guests, such as scout troops, friends and interesting adults, like his grandfather (Poppy). He persists because he wants a future in television or national radio.
“I think Kid Power Radio is going to go a long way,” says Max confidently. One day, he hopes, Conan O’Brian will say, “’Here’s Max Kantor, with Kid Power Radio Show’ and I’ll walk out smiling.”
Max has advice for other kids who dream big. “If you want to do something, go ahead and do it. Don’t say I’ll do it tomorrow and put it off, because if you don’t go ahead and do what you want to do, it might be too late.”