Jennifer Dalen's award-winning career in radio started in a statistics class. She remembers "not enjoying" learning about probability — and she remembers starting to think maybe her mom was right. Maybe instead of business school, she should pursue a career in communications. So Dalen switched studies.

That was 10 years and almost as many radio stations ago. Dalen started with a summer gig at Sun Country 99.7 in High River in 2011. That led to working part-time at stations in Okotoks, Airdrie and High River, both on-air and behind the scenes. At the same time, Dalen was finishing her SAIT diploma, completing her degree in communications at the University of Calgary, coaching kids' competitive swimming and announcing at swim meets.

She may not have aced stats, but Dalen has time management in spades — and the career path she's forged in just six years is one that would typically take decades to achieve.

After graduating with honours from Radio, Television and Broadcast News in 2012, she moved to Leduc to help start a station "from the ground up." For the last three years, Dalen has been with NewCap Radio, a Canadian leader in radio programming. She programs NewCap's Red Deer station and five other stations as well as overseeing branding for 20 stations across Alberta.

"I love coming to work every day," she says. "I don't know what's going to happen when I come through the doors. It could be about music, a technical thing or building a promotion. My day changes every single day, and that's what I like about it."

She also likes helping her community. In 2017, Dalen helped raise more than $10,000 for Dreams Take Flight, an organization that takes kids with challenges to Disneyland. It's just one of the causes she supports. "I think it's important to give back," Dalen says. "I was raised in a family where that's what you do. We didn't do birthday presents; we collected donations for the food bank."

Dalen also grew up listening to country music, an affection that's only grown. As well as selecting music for the radio, she serves as vice president of the Association of Country Music in Alberta, nurturing and promoting Alberta musicians.

In six short years, she's collected an impressive list of accolades. The day she heard she'd won the 2017 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Award for Program Director (Small Market), Dalen was in the midst of having her driver's license renewed. "They told me not to smile for the picture," she says. "But that didn't work out very well."

Text by Jennifer Allford
Photos by Jager + Kokemor
Video by Grant Nolin

a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.