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Patient is Back on the Airwaves with the Right Mix of Supports

We’re so proud of Kevin, aka DJ Polo, who is back on the air at FM 98 WJLB, Detroit’s top-rated hip-hop and R & B station, after a long recovery from a brain injury he sustained in 2011.

For many Special Tree clients like Kevin, returning to work is an important part of the rehabilitation process.  Whether it’s returning to a former profession, exploring new jobs in the community, or developing job skills in a supported work-environment, Special Tree supports our clients’ employment goals with a wide range of vocational rehabilitation services that are customized to meet their specific needs, interests, and skills.

After two years of intensive rehabilitation at Special Tree, Kevin started working with Special Tree Vocational Specialists to help him return to his job at WJLB, where he was a popular DJ.  “Kevin had made big strides in his recovery, but still had challenges to overcome to make a successful transition back to the station,” said Rene Dell, Associate Director of Vocational Services.

According to Rene, the key to achieving the best employment outcomes for clients is having a very clear picture of each person’s strengths, skills, interests, and capabilities. “We make sure to ask clients all the right questions during our vocational assessments so we can customize a rehabilitation plan that meets their specific needs and goals,” she said.

With Kevin’s input, the team crafted his rehabilitation plan to include one-on-one vocational counseling as well as a job coach at the radio station to provide the right mix of supports to get him back on the air and doing what he does best.

Prior to his injury, Kevin’s job was making DJ mixes for radio play, which he now found difficult.  “Kevin basically had to start from scratch to relearn every step of the mixing process,” said Job Coach Sara Lunsten-Allingham, who accompanied Kevin to the station once a week to practice in the studio.  To support Kevin, Sara learned all she could about mixing and works regularly with both Kevin and Kim James, WJLB DJ Supervisor. “It was frustrating but Special Tree helped me a lot,” said Kevin. “I also learned by listening to my co-worker’s mixes, they’re pretty good.”

It was a long process, but after a year Kevin was recording mixes for the station part-time with minimal support from Sara and Kim.  Kevin’s mixes got better and better and in 2014, he started mixing for a weekly show on WJLB on Saturdays from 10pm – 2am, now ranked as the top radio show in Detroit during the timeslot.  Tune in!