David "Kawika" Maszak is a writer and marketer who has worked in the radio, television, newspaper and interactive media industries. Early in his career, he was a production assistant for the legendary radio personality Hal Lewis. Maszak went on to eventually be named as the executive producer for Manex Interactive in San Francisco, California, which received a New York International Independent Film & Video Festival award for its experimental short film Seriality. Much of his career in traditional media was spent with Gannett, where his specialty was creating advertising and promotion programs in markets where the company's newspaper division owned a property involved in a Newspaper joint operating agreement, a controversial business arrangement sanctioned by congress in 1970 during the Nixon Administration that allows two competing newspapers in the same market to combine operations.
Born on April 22, 1962 in Killeen, Texas (Fort Hood Army Base), to a military family, Maszak moved frequently as a child and lived abroad in places such as Japan and Thailand. His father, a meteorologist for the United States Air Force's Military Airlift Command, was eventually transferred to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he cross-trained in astrogeophysics in order to forecast the sun's solar flares, which can greatly impact satellite communications.
Uninterested in school for the most part, Maszak's passion for words and writing was sparked by a Hawaii high school English teacher's assignment to read "There Will Come Soft Rains" from Ray Bradbury's short story collection, The Martian Chronicles. Instantly hooked on science fiction short story writing, Maszak asked his English teacher to suggest other authors. Two recommendations further pulled Maszak toward the idea of writing:speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison, who had recently published Deathbird Stories: A Pantheon of Modern Gods
and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who had recently published Slapstick and Jailbird.
Shortly afterward, impassioned by Bradbury's writing style, Ellison's dark subject matter, and Vonnegut's humor, Maszak was assigned to write a short story to be entered in the National Scholastic Writing Contest. Although his English teacher found it disturbing, it was submitted and garnered Maszak an honorable mention – thus launching Maszak's love of short-form writing – although it would not be until 1991 that he published his first work of fiction.
With no funds for collage and unable attain a scholarship because of low SAT scores, Maszak took a job working for a local radio station, which introduced him to the two elements that have been central to his career: marketing and computers.
Maszak spent the early 1980s after graduating from Radford High School working for various Honolulu radio stations.At KULA-FM he got his first taste of working with a computer. His job was to program the automation computer to play commercial breaks.
Maszak next worked at Hawaii's oldest radio station, KGU-AM, during a time when the station had a News/Talk format and was operating under bankruptcy protection until it was purchased by millionaire Charles J. Givens.
While working at KQMQ-FM and KKUA-AM, Maszak teamed up with popular radio air personality and Japanophile Kamasami Kong to introduce Honolulu nightclubbers to a bar activity Japanese tourists were beginning to bring along with them from home when they vacationed in Hawaii: Karaoke. He also ran promotions and contests for KQMQ's morning show featuring controversial air personality Michael Qseng.
In the mid 1980s, Maszak worked briefly as a television writer, producer and director for Honolulu NBC affiliate, KHON; and ABC affiliate, KITV. While at KHON, he developed the Girl From Dial character for local rent-to-own company Dial. Although its 11 Hawaii locations were purchased by a national rent-to-own chain, the company relocated its base to Puerto Rico and still uses the Girl From Dial character for their advertising to this day. He also was the writer/producer of ESPN's coverage of the Honolulu Marathon.
In 1987, Maszak left the radio and television industries to work for the Hawaii Newspaper Agency, which handled printing and fiduciary responsibilities for Honolulu's two major daily newspapers, The Honolulu Advertiser (morning and Sunday) and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (afternoon). He helped to usher in the use of Macs using Quark and Adobe desktop publishing products to create marketing and advertising products as the two newspapers moved away from old fashioned typesetting and manual page layout processes.
By the mid 1990s, Maszak had become the director of promotions for the Hawaii Newspaper Agency. During that time he resided on the Island of Hawaii and commuted daily to his office on Oahu via Hawaiian Airlines. His interest in the Internet led to his installment as the director of new media for the agency.
In 1999, Maszak was induced to leave Hawaii and move to San Francisco, where former newspaper colleague Jamie Robbins hired him as the director of e-commerce and content operations for SoftNet Systems. Here, he met and became good friends with Bill Dawson, who had been hired by CEO Dr. Larry Brilliant as the company's technical director. Maszak's background in traditional media helped Dawson to create the community portal content management system for SoftNet's 2.4 million subscribers, which is now known as LocalToolbox. SoftNet Systems Inc. was an early independent broadband company that brought high speed Internet access to small cities, airports and rural towns. By September 2000, it had 400 employees and a market value of $280 million.
In 2000, Maszak left to join Bill Dawson at Manex Interactive as the division's executive producer. Manex Interactive was the multimedia division of Manex Visual Effects, which had pioneered the Academy Award-winning visual effects for The Matrix and What Dreams May Come, among other films. During Maszak's tenure, Manex Interactive received a New York International Independent Film & Video Festival award for its experimental short film Seriality.
Maszak was briefly induced to return to the newspaper business in 2002 when Gannett was looking for someone with Newspaper joint operating agreement experience to place at their Tucson, Arizona property. Two years later, he moved to Houston to become the creative director for American National Insurance Company's subsidiary, Garden State Life, taking responsibility for all direct mail and DRTV advertising. In 2011, he was named vice president of retail product management for Amegy Bank, where he took responsibility for online and mobile banking for consumers and small business.
The lure of marketing and writing proved to be too great, however. In 2012, Maszak founded Help Me Say It and became the company's chief wordologist. One of his early clients was David Harig, founder of Fitness On Request, who was about to start a new company called Change Lane. After consulting with Harig on his business proposal for investors, he decided to become one of the company's co-founders. Change Lane secured initial venture capital backing from R7 Partners: however, as it prepared to offer service in the Minneapolis market, the founder resigned and Maszak departed to pursue other opportunities.