Mesa broadcaster- author pens memoir The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa broadcaster- author pens memoir

February 6th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Mesa broadcaster- author pens memoir
Mesa
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By Kevin Pirehpour
Tribune Staff Writer

In 2018, Chris “Kaz” Nascimento was working as a detention officer at Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, at times working graveyard shifts on death row. 

 “When they told me that I was going to work there, I was super nervous,” the Mesa writer recalled. “In my mind, from what you hear, these are the meanest, nastiest people on the planet.” 

 “It was very scary at times,” Nascimento said. “There were times where you thought, this is it, it’s about to go down. I’m either going to get really hurt or I’m going to leave here on a stretcher.”

Those scary times and others are recounted in a memoir just published by Nascimento, the owner and host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “New Jack Radio.”

His book, “Reach: It’s All You Have to Do,” is a candid look at how he overcame abuse, trauma and dejection and now tries to serve as a beacon of hope for anyone facing adversity and life-altering challenges.

At the Florence prison, Nascimento said he would deliver mail to inmates, organize their call times and check their cells for contraband, such as drugs or weapons, never forgetting that violence could erupt at any time.

Nascimento never left work on a stretcher. But the dangerous work conditions, compounded with a slow promotional process, started to weigh on him.

One night in October, while working in the guard tower overlooking inmates, he recalled asking himself: “What are you doing with your life?”

“At that moment, I realized I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing.”

That night, he sent an email giving two weeks of notice.

“A sense of pressure just came off my back,” Nascimento said. “It felt so good to be like, ‘I am going to go pursue what I’ve always wanted to do.’”

“I hope that everyone that picks up the book can at least find a piece of themselves,” Nascimento said. “Or find some encouragement to get out of that dark place in their life and push forward knowing that they can make it happen.”

Nascimento is no stranger to turning a negative situation into a positive one.

Growing up in East Oakland, he was the younger of two siblings. His father fought in the Vietnam War and met his mother while stationed in the Philippines. Upon returning to the U.S., his father coped with the transition to civilian life with drugs and alcohol. 

Over time, he started to verbally and physically abuse his mother and siblings.

When he was 5, his parents divorced. Shortly thereafter, his mother landed in another abusive relationship and the beatings continued.

For years, Nascimento said, he jumped around from house to house and ultimately landed in a home with his older brother — who struggled with drug addiction. It seemed as though no matter where he went, he said, that he found himself in an unforgiving environment. 

“Those times really made me who I am,” Nascimento said. “I went from 16 to 21 years old, within a matter of months because I had to. The atmosphere was rough, it was tough.”

Tough years that inspired him to write a book that young readers could connect with.

“There are no fancy words, there’s no explicit lyrics or anything crazy,” Nascimento said about the writing style of the book. “But I know at that age, from the pre-teens to the young adults, is when your life starts to take that turn and you start to understand what is going on here.”

His drive to help others experiencing hard times goes beyond the pages of his book. With 14 years of experience in radio, he has mastered the art of a disc jockey. It’s also how he acquired the nickname, “Kaz.”

Listeners can expect to hear mostly hip-hop and rhythm and blues songs from the 80s and 90s that he hopes offers freedom from disquieting thought or emotions. 

Every time Nascimento turns his microphone for his show, he paints a vivid picture of his audience in his mind. 

“I imagine there’s a guy, or girl, sitting on the bed in the dark with their radio and it’s my job to convince them to put down the gun,” Nascimento said. “I know that sounds crazy, but if I fail, they’re going to pull the trigger.”

Today, his book can be found on Amazon and on his website, NewJackRadioLive.com – where you will also find links to his show on various stations across the nation.

In the Valley, New Jack Radio can be heard on 88.7 The Pulse and 90.7 Neon Radio on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and again from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“You do have the power to move yourself out of those situations,” Nascimento said. “I am living proof and I want people to know that there are people out there that care for them; that love them; that will help.”

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