Clare Duffy '08

Growing up, Clare Duffy ‘08 never really knew what she wanted to be, despite feeling a lot of pressure to figure that out after graduating high school. The small campus at Mount Mercy, along with professors and staff, helped her to find her perfect place post-graduation as morning show host at KZIA Radio – a place where she knows she can make someone’s day a little brighter.

Duffy had a list of important elements she wanted out of her college experience. Mount Mercy filled the bill.

“I knew I wanted to go to a small school. I wanted to have contact with my professors and have them know me by name. Location was also key. I wanted my own space, but also didn’t want to spend hours driving home. As I began touring schools, I gravitated toward Catholic schools, since that’s my religion. Mount Mercy ended up being the perfect school for me.”

Clare Duffy ‘08
Morning Show Host
KZIA Radio (102.9 FM)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Duffy participated in Drama Club, English Club, and the Emerging Leaders Program, wrote for the Mount Mercy Times, and appeared in multiple plays, all of which contributed to the communications/host/entertainer hats she wears today.

“I initially thought maybe I should be an English teacher, but then decided I may love literature, but teaching was not for me,” she said. “So I decided a double major in communication and English would make me more marketable…still not knowing what sort of job I would be going for. Then a friend of mine got an internship at Z102.9. She wasn’t that into it, but I was so jealous of how fun it seemed.

“The next year I became an intern in the promotions department and had a great summer. But the most fun I had was any time I got to appear on the morning show. After graduation, I expressed interest in DJing and got some experience, and from there, the job of producer became available. I applied, got the job and I’ve been here ever since. I consider myself so fortunate to work at a job I love!”

When asked who was instrumental to her success at Mount Mercy, Duffy emphatically said: “There are so many awesome people on the mount! The entire English Department — especially Jim Grove (retired) who always pushed me to be a better writer; Kathy Pudzuvelis (retired), my teacher and my work-study boss who helped me to grow, mature and become a leader; and Dorothy Lutz (in the cafeteria), who memorized each student’s name as she scanned our cards for meals. She came to all my shows — even in adulthood! She was so supportive and a cheerleader for all students.”

Duffy supports the Just Schulte & Clare show by booking guests, writing comedy sketches and bits, researching content, audio production, and being a personality on the show. She’s proud that station KZIA is locally owned and community focused in doing such things as giving out ice cream on a hot day or collecting water and supplies for regions devastated by a natural disaster. Duffy spearheads an annual KZIA event called Gown Town, for which the station collects gently used prom dresses to be given, for free, to high schoolers from Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha and Iowa City. Those are some of the things she’s most proud of in her career.

“We want to create good radio and because of that we make sure to localize our content, whether reporting on weather emergencies or writing musical parodies about local events. Finding something interesting and engaging for our audience each and every day can be a challenge and a little victory.”

Filling the bill in her personal life, Duffy met her husband, Nick ’08, at Mount Mercy, with whom she now parents daughters Audrey and Cora. She also volunteers at her church, St. Ludmila, and helps put together the Kolach Festival each year. With such a well-rounded life, Duffy says she certainly has no regrets about her college years.

“It was a great time of trial and error and self-discovery.  Perhaps knowing what I know now I could have navigated it differently, but no regrets.

“So many of the experiences I’ve had in life have made radio a really good fit for me. I found a love of performing and being on stage. I think that helps me to create, perform and be daring. I also honed my writing skills at Mount Mercy — which I never thought I could do. But it helps when trying to write sketches or prepare information for broadcast.”

Duffy’s advice for current or prospective Mount Mercy students is to try many things.

“Mount Mercy has a wonderful, supportive community. The small campus allows you to try new things and to try many things. You don’t have to focus on one aspect of yourself; you can try lots of things and see what you like best. Professors and staff are committed to your success, and will go out of their way to make sure you have the tools to succeed.”

Be a Mustang. Success follows.