The Spirit of Anthony Spak

Internships are common place among college students and are often seen as being just a part of the curriculum. Another class to take.  A requirement. 

Few students have the chance to reignite the spirit of an entire city, brainstorm with a city mayor and leave a lasting imprint. 

Anthony Spak does.

Spak is the current music director at Oakland University’s radio broadcast station, WXOU, and most recently has found himself interning for the city of Pontiac working on “The Spirit of Pontiac” newsletter.

Not unlike many cities around the United States, Pontiac is a city in need of a new image.  The Oakland University to Pontiac Initiative seeks to revitalize and refresh Pontiac, and to eliminate any current stigma surrounding the city.

Bordering counties, residents and students have had enough.  

“We think of Pontiac as a wasteland,” Spak said. “But Pontiac has good bones.”

Spak’s mission: To inform and elevate the good stories that exist in Pontiac.

 “The Spirit of Pontiac” newsletter will contain stories that have their own voice.

“This is not just an Oakland Press crime shadow reporting,” Spak said, speaking on the city’s notorious reputation for receiving bad press.

“People get shot in Royal Oak too. But their news is balanced out, people hear about the good things happening in other towns.  Pontiac doesn’t have that right now.”

 “The Spirit of Pontiac” newsletter seeks to link three aspects of the city together through both print and online communication, ideally linking together city government with residents, local businesses with city government and Pontiac residents with business owners.

Spak underlined the importance and the need for communication in Pontiac. 

“Everyone wants the same thing but there isn’t a way to communicate,” Spak said. “When a city doesn’t communicate, things don’t go well.”

The intent of the quarterly-published newsletter will focus on closing the communication gap between residents and city government, to act as an outlet for residents to voice concerns and to communicate information to the city’s residents. 

Spak outlined that his writing process begins with a meeting with the mayor. Afterwards, roughly three to four story ideas are discussed, then reviewed from a journalistic aspect.  This leaves Spak roughly a month to find sources, interview and write.

“It’s my hope that every resident can read about the good things happening in Pontiac,” Spak said. “I want the residents of Pontiac to have access to information about what is happening in their city and to be able to have pride in their community.”

John Kenney, a former Pontiac resident, is relieved a new view on Pontiac is being shown.

“After a while you begin to be able to predict the news. It’s the same negative story on a constant loop,” said Kenney. “It is nice to hear good things about a town I have roots in.”

Alongside a professional relationship with Pontiac, Spak shares a personal connection with the city as well. 

“My family owned property in Pontiac when I was growing up. I remember walking around the Dixieland flea market with my family on the weekends,” Spak said.

He added that it’s nice to see change in a town he spent so much time in growing up.