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Undergraduate Program

Jenny Valliere '13

Public Relations, Communication

Finding Her Passion through Radio Waves

After a chance internship lit her passion for radio, Jenny Valliere ’13 did everything she could to succeed in the broadcast world.

MMU: How did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in journalism? What about this field intrigued you?

JV: This field allows me to serve the community on a daily basis. Whether it's informing or entertaining, we work to make sure we're there for our listeners. There's a saying for people who work in journalism/broadcasting, "When you're running to your basement for shelter, we're running to the station to work." I remember an email I received from our program director when there was a huge snow storm one year. Most businesses closed down, but our program director told us to leave enough time to get to work, and that there were emergency snacks in the kitchen if we got snowed in.

MMU: What attracted you to Mount Mercy? Why did you choose MMU's program over others?

JV: The small class sizes that provided more individual attention. I also have a grandmother who attended Mount Mercy back when it was a junior college, and she is a volunteer saleswoman for MMU. Three college visits later, I realized it wasn't just my grandmother trying to sell me on following her footsteps. I truly felt a comfort about being at Mount Mercy each time I visited.

Three college visits later, I realized it wasn't just my grandmother trying to sell me on following her footsteps. I truly felt a comfort about being at Mount Mercy each time I visited.

Jenny Valliere '13
Public Relations, Communication

MMU: What organizations were you a part of during college? How did they impact you?

"I had several news articles and video work from my experience with the MMU Times that set me a part from other candidates, and wowed our program director at the time."

JV: I wish I had the time to be involved in more, but with the time I did have, I was a member of the Mount Mercy Times and the theatre department. I was involved in a few different plays and musicals at MMU. The Mount Mercy Times impacted me tremendously. It gave me the portfolio I needed to impress my current employer. I had several news articles and video work from my experience with the MMU Times that set me a part from other candidates, and wowed our program director at the time. As for my involvement in theatre, I gained more experience developing confidence and a personality that is used every day as the afternoon DJ.

MMU: Was there any one faculty or staff member, or a particular class, that impacted you?

JV: There were a few different faculty members who impacted my experience at Mount Mercy, but the two who really helped me through graduation were my advisors and professors, David Klope and Joe Sheller. David Klope was someone who was very understanding and worked with me to make sure I was right on track for graduation. I worked two part-time jobs in college, in addition to an internship, so I would be awake some nights until 3 a.m. finishing homework. After being transparent, David Klope extended those deadlines for me a couple of different times.

Joe Sheller was the one who suggested I intern at Z102.9. Through the MMU Times, we took a trip to the Iowa College Media Association. It was during a tour at a local radio station in Des Moines that I sparked interest in radio. Initially, I was going to pursue television broadcasting. If it weren't for Joe, I probably wouldn't have considered radio, and I have to credit him for where I'm at today. Had I had gone to another college, I'm not sure I would have been able to build the relationships with my professors that have been pivotal to my college career.

Had I had gone to another college, I'm not sure I would have been able to build the relationships with my professors that have been pivotal to my college career.

Jenny Valliere '13
Public Relations, Communication

MMU: Did you complete any internships? How did they impact your professional trajectory?

JV: I completed one internship over the summer of 2012 with Z102.9. It led me to the career I have today and all of my professional accomplishments. After my internship, Z102.9 decided to hire me part-time and train me for on-air. I covered holidays and vacations for full-timers, in addition to working weekend overnights. Through my internship, I was able to gain the experience I needed in my career field, and I quickly developed my passion for radio.

MMU: Tell me about your career after graduation- what's your proudest moment? What's one thing you think you could have done better?

JV: While working part-time, I accepted any and every on-air shift I could get my hands on at Z102.9. Upon college graduation, the full-time overnight position became available, and the program director encouraged me to apply. Sure enough, after graduating at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, I started as the full-time overnight DJ at midnight that same day. For fifteen months, I lived a vampire lifestyle, working midnight to 5:30 a.m. I was then promoted to the afternoon drive, which eventually led to becoming the music director and assistant program director. In December of 2019, I was announced as the new program director of Z102.9. My proudest moment was becoming program director, because there are not many women that hold this title, especially at my age. To me, it was a moment of breaking barriers. One thing I could have done better was work-life balance. I wanted to succeed so badly, I was neglecting “me-time” and my social life. 

My proudest moment was becoming program director, because there are not many women that hold this title, especially at my age. To me, it was a moment of breaking barriers.

Jenny Valiere '13
Public Relations, Communication

MMU: How do you view the ability to tell a good story? How do you use this skill in your current position as program director with KZIA?

JV: Storytelling is what makes great radio! As a program director, it's our job to make sure our listeners are engaged. The ability to tell a good story contributes to our listener engagement and desire to come back. It creates a connection between the listener and the person on air.

"The ability to tell a good story contributes to our listener engagement and desire to come back. It creates a connection between the listener and the person on air."

MMU: What's one thing you wish you would have known going into your freshman year of college? What's one thing you would have wanted to know before entering the job market?

JV: I wish I would have known to sign up for as many internships as possible. I truly lucked out on hitting the jackpot with my one and only internship. However, I know that it doesn't happen for everyone. The only way to know if you're going to enjoy a career, is to work in that field. Internships are a "no-strings-attached" way to go about finding what it is you love and what you thought you'd love, but didn't.

Before entering the job market, I wish I would have known that it's okay to be rejected. I think rejection is so feared sometimes, that we don't always shoot for our biggest career goals. You might send out hundreds of demos and resumes and never get a call back. Don't let it discourage you, because it's never personal.

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