Crossing career paths in Georgia

You might not expect to find many Heidelberg alums at a television station near the Alabama-Georgia border, let alone three of them.

2018 grads Karien Graf and Shannon Nichols joined Scott Carpenter, ’17, at WLTZ NBC-38 in Columbus, Georgia, at the end of May. With a little help from Nathan Cutietta, director of the Media Communication Center, both women were put in contact with Gene Kirkconnell, the director of news and local programming at WLTZ.

“I wanted to help them get started off well in their careers,” Nathan said. “With Gene and WLTZ, they get an environment that wants to help to continue to enhance their skills.” After a phone interview, Karien, who majored in communication, and Shannon, an integrated media major, were offered positions as production assistants at the station.

While Scott works his nightly broadcasts as the on-air sports anchor, Karien and Shannon can be found behind the scenes. It’s not unusual to have a Heidelberg-filled production with the three of them working the same newscast.

It’s only been a few weeks, but both women are learning a great deal and seeing the value in in their employment.

“It’s already been so helpful to build our skills in this market,” Shannon said while also echoing Nathan’s comments that WLTZ wants to educate its employees to become well-rounded in the field.

While their current roles may be a stepping stone to bigger things in their careers, they’ve both realized this path was initially a good choice. “We went in knowing what we wanted to do,” Karien said. “This experience has already started cementing what we wanted.” Shannon is working toward a career in scripted television and Karien hopes to stay in news production and live television.

As for the sports anchor, Scott now has one year under his belt. “The first year on the job at WLTZ has been great,” Scott said, adding that having familiar faces around is a nice addition going into year two. “It gives us a sense of pride in Heidelberg in that we can achieve great things with our degree and what we’ve learned.”


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