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Industry Insiders Pull Back the Curtain on Communications Careers

By Charise Wallace

Whether you’re a communications major or not, you wouldn’t have wanted to miss the Industry Insiders event on Thursday Nov. 7, 2013 in the Special Collections Room inside the Thurgood Marshall Library.

Communications Prof. Kendrick Kenney hosted this event allowing a select few of speakers from vast media platforms to come out to Bowie State University to discuss with aspiring students who want to develop a passion in the mass media industry.

Industry insiders representing various professional media outlets spoke to about 100 students and faculty. Emmy Award-winning television producer Don Napoleon delivered the keynote address. All of the speakers discussed how they got started working in their media field and where they are now. These individuals have worked for several media companies such as CBS Radio, Sirius XM, and WHUR 96.3 FM. They offered students tips on how to develop skills in radio announcing, production, sales and management.

One of the first speakers to open up the event was Brandon Woolfolk, who graduated from BSU with a bachelor's degree in communications in May 2013. Woolfolk talked about his summer internship experience at WUSA Channel 9 News and how he learned broadcast management skills by working closely with Vice President Khalim Piankhi

Lauren-Nikai Harry from WHUR 96.3 FM radio provided an overview of her background in radio and her current work as an account executive for WHUR. Although she did not earn a degree in communications, her degree in business from Howard University prepared her for her present position..

Another speaker, Deonna J. Leftwich, talked about her journey that led to her current position at CBS Radio as a continuity director. She is a graduate of Shaw University and Bowie State University. In both her bachelor's and master’s degrees she has concentrated on mass communications, television/radio production, public relations and print journalism. She finally found her field of interest once she got involved in radio production where she started a nonprofit radio station called WSHA 88.9 FM and interned at Radio One.

Tracy Evans recounted his path to his present production position at Sirius XM Radio. While his first love is communications, he said he also studied business and sales marketing. Evans' career field involved a variety of experience in marketing, communications and sales, including Verizon, Sprint and ICBC (Inner-City Broadcast) magazine. However, he said, he didn’t think he was going to end up working for Sirius XM Radio until he started filming his young daughter as she grew up and realized he had a passion for production.

Emmy Award-winner Don Napoleon closed out the event by showcasing a video of his work. Napoleon earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia State University after majoring in psychology with a minor in communications.

Napoleon said he got a jumpstart in his career as a child and teen by writing, drawing and acting. After graduating from college, he immediately started working in network television. He worked with the Discovery Channel, PBS and NBC.

In 2004, he worked with Gearshift TV recording concerts for popular celebrities, and Eastern Motors commercial to name a few. He established the Don’s Documentaries Film House in which later he gained mass number of clients like DreamWorks, BET and HGTV and many more. His most recent project involves capturing the moment of Al Sharpton’s speech this past summer at the March on Washington’s 50th Anniversary, The Tribute to Nelson Mandela and the 2013 Super Bowl.

Napoleon created an organization called Exposure in 2003 that allows over 600 college students from HBCUs to receive hands-on knowledge on the basis of emerging media, television production and many other mass media career paths of interest. He said he continues to experiment with video and takes that into the classroom as well as sharing with the next generation his path to success.