Jackie Rae Greening has never been at a loss for words.
But the St. Albert woman was left speechless when she received a call from MacEwan University telling her she was being given an honorary doctorate from the institution.
"There was dead silence. I was astounded," said Greening, who has carved a remarkable four-decade career while following her passions of music and talking.
Currently the program director for CFCW & New Country 98.1, the prestigious honour will not change the 61-year-old one little bit.
"There'll be a lot of doctor jokes around the station this week," said Greening, who has had a couple of personal hits this fall as she was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in the builder category in October for her extensive involvement with curling over several decades.
"This has been huge. As I reflect back on these awards, I wonder how did I get here?" said Greening.
Her guidance counsellor at Paul Kane High School played a pivotal role.
"She found me some work experience at a recording studio during Grade 12. That was very important."
After graduation, Greening briefly considered a career with the RCMP but then shifted gears and followed her love of music.
"I took a three-month correspondence course from the Columbia School of Broadcasting and then fired out a bunch of cassette tapes to try and land a job."
Greening said the independence she learned from her parents and growing up as the youngest of five children helped her face the daunting prospects.
"There were no women on the air in the 1980s," she said.
Eventually, Greening ended up working the midnight shift at a Red Deer radio station before landing another on-air job at Q91 in Drumheller.
She said her decision to become program director in Drumheller — “same pay and twice the work” — was a key career move that directly led to "getting my dream job at CFCW as marketing director" in 1989.
That role put her in the position to promote and assist countless artists — efforts that led to her being named a builder inductee into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018.
"I was always here for the artists, no matter who they are," said Greening, who prides herself on treating everyone she meets the same way — from the undiscovered to superstars.
In her speech to the MacEwan grads, she echoed that theme, saying; "Always think about your daily interactions with people. Always think about how you make them feel?"
While she has worked with every type of performer over the decades, Greening admits that "being oblivious" to their stature has paid huge dividends.
Like most radio veterans, she juggles several positions and is still a regular CFCW on-air personality every weekday.
"I wear a lot of hats. I love being on the air and I love the music."
Being a resident of St. Albert for all these decades — outside of a brief period in the 1980s — is something Greening is proud of.
"It was an amazing place to grow up and I'm extremely proud to live here," said Greening, who recently celebrated 40 years of marriage with husband Cliff.
"Cliff and I met at the (St. Albert) Curling Club. I still curl there every Monday night."