Gold & Silver Circle

2009 Silver Circle: Jane Helmke

Jane Helmke

Jane Helmke is one of those rare individuals whose 27-year career includes only one station: KARE. Along the way, she has been a role model for women, mentored interns, created a unique educational opportunity for students, and helped colleagues earn greater recognition for their work.

Jane grew up in a southern Wisconsin Scandinavian farming community, starting her career in journalism at the junior high school newspaper. She carried that interest forward to Augsburg College in Minneapolis, graduating with a double major in Communications and Physical Education. Jane created the school’s first sports information assistant position, which led to an interest in TV sports. In her senior year, she started as an intern in the sports department at WTCN (now KARE), after an unnamed competitor turned her down because he “didn’t have time for girls in sports.”

The small sports staff at WTCN gave Jane the opportunity to jump in and get deeply involved. Her first interview? Billie Jean King. That internship turned into a part time Production Assistant job in early 1983 with Jane hired to be the chyron operator and to create weather graphics. In 1985, Jane became Sports Producer, and Fill-in Sunrise Sports Anchor, the first female sportscaster in a Twin Cities newscast. Her on-camera career was short-lived as she focused more on producing. Jane was named Special Projects Producer in 1988 where, for the next decade she worked on numerous community service documentaries, primetime specials, documentaries, and primetime series including the popular Pat Miles Specials, Olympics coverage, and political campaigns and conventions. By 1996 Jane was named Managing Editor where she now works primarily with digital platforms, including overseeing

Jane has won numerous national and regional awards for her work: Regional Emmys, national AWRT, National Educational Film and Video Festival, Music Journalism Awards, American Film and Video Festival, and many more.

Jane served as a founding board member of the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and was instrumental in creating and defining the chapter. The popular “Emmys Class” taught at the University of Minnesota was her brainchild, and the unique curriculum her inspired work. She also spearheaded the effort that lead to the first National Emmy for Regional Chapters in Breaking/Spot News and Investigative
categories. This chapter’s reputation for innovation and our focus on education are based on Jane’s work.