Adrian Harewood, CBC radio and TV host, Ottawa

Adrian Harewood and I first met at the NFB in Ottawa in 1993. He was a student at McGill where he later graduated and became the Station Manager at CKUT (McGill’s community radio station). Seventeen years later he is married and  anchors the 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. news at CBC Television in Ottawa.

Harewood says that he doesn’t have a typical day. “With this new TV gig my workday now starts at 3:00 p.m. So normally during the day I try to go for a run or do some form of exercise, read various newspapers and websites, maybe watch a film, read a book, listen to radio programs on CBC, BBC, NPR, Democracy Now, Radio Pacifica, Radio Canada. I also listen to Christopher Lydon’s Open Source, and This American Life on Public Radio International. While I am doing housework I watch CBC TV, Radio-Canada, BBC, CNN.

Knowing how to make good use of his time, Harewood has advice for young journalists who would like to be where he is today. “Follow your passion,” Harewood says. “Be curious. Read widely. Be a sponge. Travel as much you can. Get out of your comfort zone, whatever that zone is. Learn some languages. Expose yourself to as many stories as you can be they radio documentaries or films or TV shows or ballads or magazine articles. Read poetry. Practice reading out loud. Check out some art. Ground yourself as much as you can in history and politics and philosophy and science. Don’t get complacent. Never be satisfied with what you think you know. Get to know your community. Get involved in community media (I am particularly biased towards community radio). Write something every day. Try to become as versatile as you can as a media practitioner.”

All this advice has helped Harewood to be who he is today. Five years from now he sees himself writing a lot more for newspapers and magazines and pursuing some book projects. He would also like to teach at some post-secondary institution. He would like to produce documentaries for radio and TV. — By Donna Kakonge

Donna Kakonge, Media Educator

It took Donna Kakonge five years to get a teaching job in Toronto, her hometown. Her first teaching experience was at Carleton University in Ottawa as a Television Teaching Assistant. Today she is a known media educator and we asked her about her career and what advice she may have for those interested in making the transition.

Where are some of the places in the industry that you’ve worked?

I’ve worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canoe.ca, Young People’s Press, the Media Research Institute, Share Newspaper, Pride Newsmagazine and New Dreamhomes and Condominiums Magazine, to name a few.

How did you become a media educator?

I really wanted to make the transition to teaching and Robert Payne, a 40-year journalism veteran, helped me along. I went to him for career coaching and, in 2005, he told me about a teaching job opening at Centennial College. I applied and although I did not get it, it opened the door for me.

In 2006 I taught my first course in Toronto at Centennial College in Magazine Journalism. This experience spring boarded into working at Seneca College, University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College, Trebas Institute, George Brown College and Ryerson University. However, if I didn’t have my master’s degree from Concordia University in Montréal, I would not be able to do this work.

What advice do you have for career communicators interested in education?

The landscape for what a lot of post-secondary institutions are asking of journalism educators is changing. Mike Karapita at Humber College calls it “credentializing.” There is a movement for educators to become more educated, and this is a big reason why I am currently doing my PhD in Education at OISE/University of Toronto.

What do you see for the future?

Journalism education needs more of an emphasis on how young journalists and communicators can be entrepreneurs and successfully run their own freelancing business. This is effective from a tax perspective, as well as a job security perspective. Job security is an elusive thing these days; however young journalists can stay on top of this by working for a variety of employers.

If you would like more information on this topic, you can email Donna Kakonge at: dkakonge@sympatico.ca

Nneka Elliott, Anchor Traffic/Weather, CP24, Toronto.

As a child, Nneka Elliott remembers teaming up with her big brother to invent make believe talk radio programs and record them for an imaginary audience. Nneka was a triple threat – playing the parts of both host and guests, and voicing the pretend commercial breaks.

Nneka was born in Quebec, but her formative years were spent living in the Caribbean on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She dabbled in professional radio as a weekend co-host at St. Vincent’s HITZ FM. It was that little taste of broadcasting that brought Nneka back to Canada, and through the doors of Ryerson University in Toronto.

The 2006 graduate of Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program recalls her student life as a positive one. Her sharp focus on success led to a summer internship-turned-reporter position at Toronto’s CFRB 1010. By Nneka’s final year in school, she landed a gig as an anchor at the popular radio station.

Nneka’s professional journey continued on an upward spiral. She went on to work as a Weather Broadcaster at The Weather Network, and is currently a CP24 TV anchor. Her ability and sheer talent have quickly elevated her from being known simply as the fresh-faced weather girl to a storyteller and public speaker one can trust.

Nneka respects organizations like the Canadian Association of Black Journalists. She recognizes the slim representation of Blacks in higher-level media positions and hopes that with further development of the CABJ young minority journalists may be encouraged to set high goals and practice persistence.