Michael Max Knobbe has a mysterious nature about him with a flair of eccentricity and a penchant for adventure. In the three years that I have known him, we have only spoken for a total of twenty minutes. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview him during a business meeting and could see a change to his persona. I would come to realize later on that he has many different layers to his personality.
Most people know Mr. Knobbe as the Executive Officer for BronxNet but few know his beginnings. While studying for his degree in graphic design at Lehman College in the M.P.A. program, he took a job as a graphic designer in 1992 and ten years later would achieve the mantel of his current position. When he started at BronxNet there were only two other employees and just the same amount of resources. As time went on, Mr. Knobbe would rise up in ranks and with his progression BronxNet would flourish too.
The longest conversation I have had with him was about two months ago when, by chance, I crossed him in the halls after an interview on Open. From his activity on social media, I know that he is a running enthusiast and has a witty disposition but in his office, I got to see his work temperament. When he is working his character is totally different than his social one. He escorted me to his office and we began to talk business.
Looking around the room, there was an award from the Garifuna community on his desk, so I began to tell him about my colleague, Edson Arzu, the Executive Officer for Garifuna Veterans of America. I told Mr. Knobbe that I would like the two to meet and he immediately said, “Lets schedule it.” Our conversation shifted over to my show, Vet Talk. After bringing up that we had taken the Field Production course three years prior, he recommended that we take the Studio Production course to gain full access to the studio. We then proceeded to discuss ways in which our two organizations can collaborate on special projects.
All in one meeting we accomplished what most would take months in negotiations. The most surprising element to the meeting was him observing our whole website while I explained each matter of our business. On top of that he gave solid opinions and critiques; obviously his trade of graphic design has not left him. The meeting was quick, beneficial and expanded a wide range of topics. I assumed, like most other organizations we deal with, he had plans to use our huge network in play with Vet Talk but I believe this was completely wrong. His openness was genuine but because his eagerness to help came out instantaneously, I assumed. In actuality his proposition for the Veteran community is one of real sincerity. While it was obvious that he was eager to help the Veteran community, I could not figure out his reasoning.
Then it hit me. When I was at the BETA Awards, there was a dedication for Dr. Roscoe C. Brown and hearing Mr. Knobbe’s words towards his mentor portrayed a legend. This finally opened my eyes on the reasons as to why he was giving us the ability to expand our media reach. Besides just being a nice guy, maybe he saw something in the organization to fill the shoes that is now left with Dr. Brown’s passing. The Bronx does have an active Veteran community but with all the disparages, one’s vision can be clouded in such a flawed environment.
It seems that very few people in the Bronx did not know who Dr. Brown was. Unfortunately I was one of them. But many do know that I want to give those who are not as known the ability to be recognized and give them a voice in the community, while at the same time, improve the qualities of the Veteran community. I have already dabbled with publications, social media, and media outlets for years now but the ability to use BronxNet studios, I will be so much more than just a voice, I can be the face of the Veteran community.
I hope this is the vision that he had for me, BronxNet and the Bronx. I was going to do a followup and ask that very question but instead I changed my mind. After I found out who he was, I decided to tell the Veteran community what he has done for them.