Perky KSL morning talent is homegrown Parkite
You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Jennifer Hardman to the office. As the features reporter for KSL 5 TV’s morning and noon news, she’s on the air by 5:30 every morning. That’s after morning rituals and a 25-minute drive down the canyon. "My alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of 3:45 a.m.," she moans. Ever the optimist, the ebullient 30-year-old quickly adds she absolutely loves her job. Looking back, it’s clear she’s found her calling.
Hardman, who answers to Jenn, is an anomaly in Park City. She’s a fifth-generation local on her mother’s side, a descendent of 19th-century pioneers who flocked to the fledgling mining town in the late 1800s. Her father is a prominent Park City builder who moved here with his family in the 1970s, all for the love of skiing. She started life in a house on Park Avenue, later moving to the Canyons area (then called Park West), Park Meadows and finally Jeremy Ranch, where she lives today.
Skiing adventures with her father are among Hardman’s earliest memories. "As the first-born of an extremely passionate and very skilled skier, my father had dreams I would follow in his footsteps," she recounts. "Dad always told me to ‘squish the grapes,’ a.k.a. bend my knees on the way down scary black diamond mogul runs. In spite of frozen hands and toes, and completely fogged goggles from crying, I would eventually make it to the bottom each time. Needless to say, I’m now forever grateful to dad for forcing me to learn to ski."
A born performer, Hardman took to the stage in 1st grade. She was enrolled in VocalWorks and StageWorks, Egyptian Theatre youth programs in the early 1990s. "Singing on that stage was one of the biggest parts of my childhood," she says. A gifted actor as well, she still appears annually in the Egyptian Theatre’s Park City Follies.
Hardman began playing the piano at age 6 and was a natural at the keyboard. By age 15 she was teaching piano, her first real job. She still finds time to teach a few select students today.
In junior high and high school, Hardman was an avid fan of the annual Sundance Film Festival. "That was when movie tickets were easy to get. No big-name celebrities attended so it was all about the films. We dressed like the ‘PIBs’ [people in black] so we’d fit in with the movie gurus."
Hardman attended Park City High School, graduating in 2003. She credits Chris Maddux, who taught a TV production class at the school, for steering her toward a career in television. "He inspired me and encouraged me to put my ‘gift of gab’ to good use. Sadly, he passed away in 2011."
She went on to the University of Utah, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication in 2007. While studying there she lived in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City. In 2005 she studied abroad at Griffith University on Australia’s Gold Coast. The following year found her at Dante Alighieri University in Siena, Italy. Her college years marked the only time she’s lived away from Park City.
Hardman’s first job after college in 2008 was as the host and producer of Park City Television’s morning show.
"I got to be a pretty good meteorologist there," she quips.
In 2012, Hardman was offered the job at KSL 5 TV. "I went from gabbing my way through the two-hour Mountain Morning Show to distilling it down to two-minute segments during the morning news," she laughs.
Her morning gig has taken Hardman far and wide. She’s covered stories throughout the state and points west. "I meet and interview people from all walks of life," she says. "I’ve skydived with the U.S. Army Golden Knights, been touched by the ‘Make-a-Wish’ kids and inspired by the families with kids at Primary Children’s Hospital. I’ve been a firefighter, farmer, zookeeper, biologist, mechanic and so many other ‘professions du jour.’ I’ve been to Disneyland, what some people call ‘the happiest place on earth’ and to Hawaii, which I actually think is the happiest place on earth. Every day I go to work I get to check something else off my bucket list."
This spring Hardman will likely be off to southern California again for another round of fascinating interviews. Let’s hope this homegrown talent brightens our early-morning TV screen for many more years to come.
Favorite activities: Travel, running, hiking, piano, singing and performing in the Park City Follies every year
Favorite foods: "I could live off of cheese and olives." Also sushi, hummus, pomegranates and pepperoni pizza.
Favorite music/performers: "Give me jazz or give me EDM [electronic dance music]."
Bucket list: "You’d be hard pressed to name a city that isn’t on my bucket list to travel to."
“Park City Follies” ticket sales will help buy a new expansion to the Egyptian Theatre that will house YouTheatre and serve as a black box.