Bachelor of Journalism (Hons.), 1987
We take King’s everywhere we go, and it’s so good to come back to it.
A gunman was on the loose. Three RCMP officers were dead, two seriously wounded. Parts of Moncton were in lockdown. The hunt for Justin Bourque was in full swing.
It was June 5, 2014. Jonna Brewer, as host of CBC Radio’s Information Morning in Moncton, had to help people make sense of the fear gripping their city.
“We were reminded of the role we have in this community,” Jonna says. “For every question I had for a guest, they had one for me. Especially people in that lockdown area – they weren’t getting any updates, they couldn’t leave their homes.”
For six hours Jonna talked with officials, police and residents in what seemed to her like “one long continuous interview” as the program told the story of the morning.
“It was unforgettable,” she says - because of the mind-numbing tragedy, because of her role in keeping the community informed.
“It was a real co-operative, edge of your seat kind of morning.”
It was the best of days and the worst of days rolled into one.
That program won the Peter Gzowski Award for best news information radio program from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Canada, a national journalists’ organization.
Jonna started off as a reporter with CBC in Moncton after graduating from King’s. She took time off to home school her children, then rejoined CBC Moncton as executive producer. But she missed the craft of journalism and became a newsreader. It wasn’t long before she was host of Information Morning.
Now she arrives at work each morning before five to prep the interviews she’ll do. They’ll range in topic from Minecraft to shale gas reserves, from Syrian refugees to asbestos tests in schools. The lessons she learned at King’s have stayed with her throughout her career, but one of them in particular was incredibly important on that day in June 2014.
“Stay focused, no matter how emotionally charged an issue is. Stay focused on what the story is and what people need from you. Put yourself in their shoes. That really helped me that morning.”
Even though hosting a morning show is grueling, and Moncton is a two and a half hour drive from Halifax, Jonna has found the time to rejoin the King’s community. She helped organize a couple of very successful reunions with her ‘80s classmates for which she and co-organizers received the Order of the Ancient Commoner award. An award presented by King’s Alumni Association which acknowledges support to King’s above and beyond.
It wasn’t long after that she joined the executive committee of the Alumni Association. Then she became President, a two year term ending in 2016.
But even that wasn’t enough for Jonna. She also sits on the university’s Board of Governors. She just can’t, it seems, stay away from King’s. And that is something that her sisters, who went to other universities, just don’t understand.
“It boggles their mind why people would come back time after time. That is the magic of King’s. You truly make friends for a lifetime…I don’t think anyone is quite ready to let it go. We take King’s everywhere we go, and it’s so good to come back to it.”
Posted: Apr. 2016