If you listen to the radio in Edmonton, have seen the Connor McPortrait painting, or heard about the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion, you’ve heard or seen the magic of our next Woman of Oilersnation. Lauren Hunter is an afternoon announcer on Edmonton’s SONiC 102.9 radio station and has done some really epic things in the community. I’m excited for everyone to meet this rad woman and hear more about the impact she’s had on the Edmonton community!
Last week I featured Caroline Szwed, the newest addition to Team Oilersnation! If you missed it, you can read her feature here!
MEET LAUREN HUNTER!
KYLA: Who are you?! What’s your day job, what are your passions, what’s something interesting about you?!
LAUREN: My name Is Lauren Hunter and I do a lot of things! You may know me as the afternoon radio host at Sonic 102.9 in Edmonton where I broadcast live from 3pm to 7pm. I also work extensively to create digital content by filming and editing videos for social media, photoshopping graphics, editing audio, and more. Comedy is also my game, as I try to write a lot of jokes for my radio show and social media followers – weaving humor and fun into every broadcast that I can.
Painting is also a passion of mine and I paint both portraits of celebrities and everyday beauty found in nature. All in all, I’d say I’m extensively creative. Creativity, trying to make you laugh, and interacting with all our awesome listeners fuels me deep down inside!
A lesser known hobby of mine would be scuba diving (Fun fact: I dove in the lagoon at West Edmonton Mall)!
KYLA: How did you get into hockey and sports in general?
LAUREN: I grew up watching my brother play hockey and I played myself in an all girls league from grades 4 to 6. I quit because the arena was cold and I hated getting up at 6am to practice Dedication, hey?!
Being from Edmonton, I’ve always loved the Oilers.
KYLA: What’s your favourite Oilers memory?
LAUREN: Well, I’d have to say it’s a memory that weaves Connor McDavid, painting, and my SONiC 102.9 listeners into it. It has all my favorite things!
In 2017, I spent 70 hours painting a portrait of Connor McDavid that went viral online after I posted it to our SONiC social media. The “Connor McPortrait” was covered in dozens of news outlets across North America and we sold prints at the radio station raising over $25,000 for charity! Connor himself even signed it. The McPortrait currently hangs in a special spot in my house! Watching my every move…
KYLA: You have recently been talking to Edmonton’s own Nathan Fillion and got a HUGE ball rolling on naming an Edmonton building the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion. Can you tell us how this started and what the whole experience has been like?
LAUREN: Incredible. Mind boggling. Humbling. Amazing. It’s an incredibly special opportunity and I am SO grateful to Warner Brothers Canada for joining in on the cause.
It all started two years ago, when I was having a discussion with our listeners on SONiC 102.9 about suggestions for the new downtown park proposed in Edmonton. I wrote a few different “jokes”/fun ideas of what we could do with the park: One was of course to create a small building dubbed “The Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion” after Edmonton actor Nathan Fillion. As soon as I mentioned the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion on air (we’ll abbreviate it to NFCP – it’s a lot to type out haha!) it got a big response in texts and calls, and people loved it. So I decided, hey, I’ll tweet that out! Tweeted it, and again, people loved it. So that’s when I thought “Hey, maybe there’s really something here!” and I created the Change.org petition to get the city of Edmonton to name a small building in their new downtown park “The Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion”.
The petition went viral online in 2019, and was covered by lots of news outlets at the time. I even chatted with the City of Edmonton Naming Committee and they liked the name! But after a while, I wasn’t sure how to move forward with officially naming something in the city, and I figured the petition had ran its course. It had about 13,000 signatures at the time.
Fast forward a couple years, and we had an Edmonton City Councillor advocate for the NFCP on Twitter, and things picked up a bit of steam again. We even fundraised in the name of the NFCP by selling “City of 1 Million for the Civilian Pavilion T-Shirts” at SONiC with all proceeds going to the Edmonton Foodbank, and we raised about $2500! Then the petition died down a bit again – but that’s when I received an email from Warner Brothers Canada.
Warner Brothers told me that Nathan Fillion was in their new movie “The Suicide Squad” and they thought the petition was AWESOME. Basically – Warner Brothers asked if it would be okay for the ENTIRE star-studded cast of The Suicide Squad to react to the petition in a video. Of course I said, “HECK YES, LET’S DO THIS!!!!” And the rest was history. SUCH an incredible opportunity from Warner Brothers Canada, and I am SO grateful for it.
This incredible reaction to the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion has truly meant the world to me – even on a deep, personal level. Before this, 2021 had personally been a difficult year for me. I had a wonderful friend pass away, lost my childhood cat of 20 years, got $10,000 worth of hail damage on my car, lit my kitchen on fire, and my apartment flooded. Among other things. So it really had been a tough year. BUT! What’s happened with Warner Brothers since has been nothing short of amazing.
KYLA: What’s your best advice to others, especially women, who want to get into radio?
LAUREN: Hmmm so many things. I’ll try to narrow it down to a few pieces of advice!
- Be your authentic self and strive to make emotional connections with your audience. Can you make them laugh? Cry? Angry? Tug their heart strings? Don’t just tell people things. Make people FEEL things or make them THINK about things in a different way. Sometimes a speech that you sit down and record from the heart with your true emotion can be more powerful than writing out or rehearsing something that’s carefully written. That being said, putting time and effort into YOUR creative writing is powerful as well (I spend a lot of time writing and workshopping jokes and bit ideas for our SONiC audience – and it DOES take hard work, time and effort to bring good entertainment to people!). You have to be willing to put in some work – some elbow grease!!!
- Bring original content to the table: Don’t just TELL us about a current event! Tell us about the current event and give us YOUR spin on it! People can get stories anywhere these days, but they can’t get YOUR take anywhere.
- Realize on social media that you have a relationship with your audience and that relationship is a two-way street. Don’t always just talk AT them, engage and talk WITH them – let their feedback and interests guide your content sometimes. And ESPECIALLY if you want your audience to care about something you’re advertising – you must present it in a way that THEY will resonate with. In this day and age, people are on social media to relax and enjoy their free time. They don’t want to be blatantly advertised to all the time and will immediately scroll away even if they sniff even the slightest bit of marketing. Instead, good CONTENT is king. For example, KFC could say “buy our chicken” online but people will likely tune that message out. However, instead KFC has created clever campaigns where they release hilarious “merch” like a “chicken scented bath bomb” or “chicken scented candle”. People engage with it and it gets shared everywhere because this content is funny and KFC’s audience is getting enjoyment and entertainment out of it.
KYLA: What does hockey and being a part of the Oilersnation community mean to you?
LAUREN: Hockey is an incredible community, especially the Oilersnation community. Edmontonians and Oilers fans are SO amazingly passionate and love their team and love their city. If trying to honor Nathan Fillion with the NFCP should teach us anything, it’s that Edmontonians LOVE to celebrate one of their own. We don’t have many Hollywood stars, so the Oilers are that to us!
Also, there’s no greater feeling than when the Oilers make the playoffs and the city truly comes alive. The honking in the streets, strangers high fiving you in the grocery store when you wear an Oilers jersey… people putting Connor McDavid’s face on their Ferrari (yes someone did that this year)!!!! These are all amazing things that I love about being part of the Oilersnation community. Sadly though, these are things my boyfriend will never understand because unfortunately he is a Calgary Flames fan. I know. I’m dating the enemy. I’M SORRY EDMONTON!!!! But I promise, I will be an Oilers fan for life.
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