Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Alumna helps build Toledo news show from scratch

Katrina Helmer describes benefits of studying broadcasting at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“I got to be a part of the brainstorming process of what the station wants the show to look like. I’ve always wanted to mesh my news and media skills with my business skills. I get to fill an entire hour of news. I am so excited.”

She felt “butterflies” attacking the inside of her stomach. The two hours she spent driving dragged on as she went back and forth contemplating her pros and cons list.

“Could this really be happening?” she thought.

As she pulled into her driveway, her nerves settled. She had reached a final decision. A day later, Katrina Helmer, a 2011 broadcasting graduate, packed up her belongings and threw them in the trunk of her car. Her next stop Toledo, Ohio, to begin working as the 10 p.m. producer for FOX’s local affiliate WTOL.

After leaving Huntington University, Helmer took some time away from the Midwest and spent the summer following graduation hiking Lake Tahoe and exploring the streets of Los Angeles. On a day like any other, her old broadcasting adjunct professor informed her about a position opening at the television station where he worked.

“Ryan Elijah texted me about a part-time producer position at Indiana NewsCenter (in Fort Wayne),” she said. “Within five days of applying and interviewing, I was offered the position.”

At the station, she worked as the weekend news producer where she managed, wrote and coordinated the news show and occasionally reported.

“I never intended on going into producing,” she said. “With your first job, you can’t pass up any opportunity that comes your way that gets you into your desired field. At Indiana News Center, I was not just a reporter — I found skills I had in other areas of the industry.”

After seven months in the Fort Wayne news market, Helmer received a phone call from an old HU friend about a position opening at his station in Toledo. After an email and one phone interview, she was asked to come meet the news director.

After meeting with the news director, Helmer found herself caught in a dilemma. Her supervisor at Indiana NewsCenter offered her a position as the new 11 p.m. show producer. The news director at WTOL also offered her a position as the station’s new 10 p.m. show producer. After careful consideration and negotiations, Helmer signed a two-year contract and accepted the position in Toledo.

“I got to help build a show from scratch,” she said. “I got to be a part of the brainstorming process of what the station wants the show to look like. I’ve always wanted to mesh my news and media skills with my business skills. I get to fill an entire hour of news. I am so excited.”

Along with the technical skills she developed working behind the camera, HU taught her what it takes to succeed in the broadcasting field. While at HU, she worked for HTV, the television news station at HU. As the producer, she delegated news stories to her crew and oversaw the production of the weekly news show.

“It’s about my integrity,” she said. “My mindset, attitude and confidence give me the skills I need to succeed in my position. In college, I knew my crew beyond their roles. Caring for the people you meet along the way is the only way you’ll succeed in this industry. If you’re given something you’re good at, you are doing God and others a disservice by not pursuing excellence. You should always strive to be the best in your field.”

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