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Radio/TV personality thanks teachers for his success

The Daily Union - 5/11/2023

May 10—Local teachers made a big difference in his life, TV and radio personality Phil Canty said at last week's 17th annual 'Celebration of Teaching' hosted by the Geary Community Schools Foundation.

"Teachers saved my life," Canty said. "It would have been different. But I had great teachers that came from USD 475.'

Canty, also known as "EZ Street," joked that a teacher at Westwood Elementary made a big difference in his life by just saying he could have snacks in her classroom as a sixth-grader. But she wasn't the only one — he can converse in Spanish because of a teacher at JCHS, went to college because a couple of teachers there "planted seeds" to do that after high school — even chose broadcast journalism as a career because teachers encouraged him to.

Canty described his journey "not a single road" because he moved away and came back to Junction City several times growing up.

Teacher Ruby Stevens "changed the trajectory of my life and my family forever," Canty said.

"One day she asked me, 'What do you want to do with your life?'" Canty said. "I had no idea what I wanted to do. I said, 'You know, I like reporting, media,' so she said, 'OK, alright, good,' (and I) came back to her class the next day and she said, 'You have an interview.'"

So for his first interview, Canty interviewed Otis Scroggins.

"I didn't know what to do," he said. "I asked the man some questions, I wrote them down. He was nice, and it was over. But that moment that she took, that extra mile, she didn't have to do that."

Canty told teachers "it's those kind of small things that have the ability to change a young person's life forever" and he's "living proof" of that because he ended up interviewing two presidents and several celebrities because that teacher had faith in him.

"Every student deserves this, and I know it's tough," Canty said. "It's not like it used to be back in the days — it's a little bit tougher, I understand. There are a lot of factors ... but we still have to go the extra mile, the kids deserve it."

His radio and TV career took him all around the country, including Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. and he's interviewed many celebrities including Beyonce' and Kanye West

In 2017, Canty landed a federal contract to teach what he knows about music and the radio industry to returning citizens who were in prison in the form of expressive therapy to reduce recidivism and five years later, a similar contract with the DC Department of Youth and Rehabilitative Services where he works with youth and other contracts to provide similar services.

"I go the extra mile with every returning citizen I work with, every vulnerable youth I work with," he said. "I show them love and I also go the extra mile for them because they deserve it. They really do, and what we give to them matters, it means the world to them."

Graduating from JCHS, Canty said he was afraid he wouldn't actually get his diploma at commencement. He said the other thing that happened to him Junction City that changed the trajectory of his life when he and some other kids decided to go for a ride to Salina in a vehicle that wasn't theirs; for which they were arrested for when they returned.

"I think I was 16, or 17, I get arrested and they put me in a cell," Canty said. "While I was in there, I fell asleep. I heard noises," and after imitating three gasping breaths, he said, "I didn't move, I stayed exactly where I was. Five minutes later the police officers came in and said, 'He's hanging himself! He's hanging himself!' The guy in the cell hung himself right next to me. They took me, took me in another room, prayed with me and let me go home."

Canty said that event was as impactful as the teachers in his life, and "equally important to mention."

"Life has these twists and turns," Canty said. "One of my favorite scripture is 'All things work together for the right and good of the Lord, both are called for his purpose.' That event blesses me, because it also created a spark for me to make a change, and I'm thankful for that.'"


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