Some people would say A.J. Clemente has used up his 15 minutes of fame. That fame, after all, was created when he was fired last April from a Bismarck TV station for cursing on the air. Oh, did we mention it was his first night on the station or anywhere professionally?
Clemente became a media darling, whisked into the national spotlight with appearances on NBC’s Today and Late Show with David Letterman. A month later, when the smoke had cleared, Clemente oddly used his new found celebrity to tend bar in Delaware for $2.23 an hour (plus tips).
Now the Bronx native is heading home.
Clemente, 25, tells Tuned In that he’s about to teach a seven-week broadcasting course at a private school in Manhattan.
“It’s to help high school international students,” Clemente says. “They have passion for the media industry and I’m just trying to help them out as I’m trying to proceed with my career.”
While the feelers from TV stations have dried up since his abrupt ouster, Clemente says his teaching stint will also serve as a chance for him to rebuild his own career.
In this world of pre-packaged reality shows, Clemente balks at any thought that his cursing and firing was part of a master plan to become a household name.
“If I could be back in Bismarck, I definitely would [be],” Clemente admits. “This definitely happened all by accident.”
That accident detoured his original career plan, to remain in Bismarck for a couple of years, take that experience to a middle market, and then land in a larger market a few years later.
Undeterred, Clemente is plowing forward because “everything happens for a reason.”
Although he accepts blame for any lack of professionalism, Clemente doesn’t believe the punishment fits the crime.
“I was most likely going to get fired,” Clemente tells Tuned In. “It’s a conservative market in Bismarck.”
Clemente says he’ll continue to chase his dream wherever that takes him. Even though his on-air experience is extremely limited, Clemente thinks he’s ready for New York.
“These are the cards I’ve been dealt,” Clemente admits. “If taking a job in New York is what I may have to do, then I’m going to.”
He’s planning to send tapes to smaller markets throughout the country, but notes, “My agent wants me in New York.”
The neophyte anchor got his chance to show some contrition during the media frenzy last spring. But to date, it hasn’t led to any on-air opportunities.
“I went on the national spotlight. [I] thought I could run with it.”
He was offered one way to get back on TV. But participating in a reality show was not an option for him.
“I didn’t want to go that route,” Clemente says.
Instead, Clemente is keeping his dreams alive without a timetable to find work as a reporter or anchor. He would also be amenable to covering entertainment somewhere.
“I took some time and learned more about myself and [I'm] more self-confident in myself that I can do this,” Clemente says. “I know I can.”
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