After a university experience that didn’t go well and an enjoyable-but-taxing stint as a childcare provider, Naomi Penner knew she wanted something different.
A radio ad for Herzing College caught her attention. Why not pursue a diploma in broadcasting, which she’d been interested in since she was a kid?
This was late 2020, when pandemic restrictions still made traditional classes difficult. Fortunately, Herzing’s program was available online and gave Naomi the flexibility she needed.
She is now the morning show host for Now Country 104.7 and handles social media for three different radio stations in Winnipeg.
We spoke with Naomi recently to learn more about her experience at Herzing and how her career has unfolded since graduation.
Q. Naomi, can you share a bit about your background? What were you doing before going back to school?
Naomi: After high school I went to university for a while, but because of my mental health struggles and personal things with family, it was very overwhelming.
I started working in child care, which was very rewarding but very stressful at times. So I felt I needed a change.
Q. What inspired you to choose the Broadcasting and Media Communications program at Herzing?
Naomi: Broadcasting was always something that was interesting to me. When I was in elementary school, the school was celebrating being around for 50 years. So when I was in first grade, a bunch of us went to the CBC and recorded a radio spot for our school. That stuck with me for the longest time.
When I was working in daycares, I thought, well, what else could I be doing? And I heard an ad for Herzing, and it just felt like a fit.
I love that Herzing had a format where you could do it at your own pace. That really spoke to me. I was able to do all the other things I needed to do while also keeping on top of my studies.
Q. Can you describe some of the skills you developed in the program?
Naomi: I learned production of commercials and things like that. So I know how to put beds behind audio and manipulate the audio with different levels. We also worked on on-air talking, which really helped me since I now do mostly on-air work.
A lot of what I took from broadcasting was actually learning just how to talk in general and how to compress my thoughts into what I want to say. I also learned about scriptwriting and creative writing in general. We also worked on grammar.
The program taught me a lot of skills, even skills that I didn’t think I was going to learn. I expected to learn basic editing skills and basic audio production. But it taught me personal skills as well. My personal skills are not great, but they have developed and grown since I went to Herzing, and I’m really grateful for that.
Q. What was the toughest part of the program?
Naomi: I think the toughest part unit-wise was grammar.
I also felt it was also a little harder to connect with my classmates because we were online. But we had a Facebook Messenger group where I really enjoyed talking to a lot of my classmates. I got to know quite a few of them. One of my classmates works at one of the stations I work at now, so we still talk a fair amount and a lot of us are friends on Facebook and stuff like that. It’s been really nice to connect with them.
Q. So what was the best part of the training?
Naomi: I like learning new things in general, so learning new skills was great. Developing the relationships that I have now was awesome as well.
The instructor Bev was really amazing. She was so supportive and helpful, which was a big deal for me because that made me feel like I was able to succeed in the program.
Q. Tell us about your internship. Where did you work and what kinds of things did you do?
Naomi: I did my internship at CJNU. I did production, so I was making commercials and making sure the levels were right and they all sounded good. I also did a bunch of on-air work. We did a show on Tuesdays with a gentleman here, and that was where I learned about interviewing and talking with clients.
Q. Where are you working now?
Naomi: Right now I do a number of different things. I’m employed part time at CJNU doing their social media, so I schedule things a week ahead to go up at a specific time. That way hopefully the followers will be more interactive with the posts.
I also work for Now Country and NCI FM here in Winnipeg. I’m the morning show host for Now Country 104.7. I also post the Now Top 40 on Saturdays for Now Country and I am the social media person for them as well as for NCI FM.
Q. Are you using the skills you learned at Herzing? Was the training relevant to what you’re doing now?
Naomi: Yes, I am definitely using the skills that I learned at Herzing. We had a social media unit when I was at Herzing that really helped me out, especially with all the social media work that I’m doing now. I’m also still using a lot of the production skills and tips and tricks here and there.
It’s really been a touchstone for me. If I’m stuck on something, I look back on my training at Herzing and think: how can that help me now?
Q. Was there much of a gap between when you finished the program and when you started working?
Naomi: When I left Herzing, I came straight to CJNU. They liked what I was doing and said they wanted to keep me as much as they could. But because they are a nonprofit, there was only so much they could give me. So they were able to hire me part time with a very limited salary.
From there I went to Now Country, which Bev actually introduced me to. She had a connection at Now Country and she was the one who helped me get in there.
There hasn’t been a gap where I’ve been unemployed from Herzing to now.
Q. How would you rate the program overall?
Naomi: If we’re going out of 10, I would say 20! If we’re just going in general, I would say amazing.
I loved it and if I had to go back and do it again, I would. It was the best schooling experience I ever had.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BROADCASTING PROGRAM AT HERZING COLLEGE
If you’re interested in Herzing’s Broadcasting and Media Communications program, your next step is to speak with admissions. An admissions advisor can answer questions about tuition costs, course schedules, application requirements, and career options.
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