by Deb Seminary
When Marci Narum was twelve she was at a youth gathering at the Ramkota. She remembers sitting in her chair, listening to the speaker and having the inspiration, ‘That is what I want to do someday – have a message that is meaningful and that makes people feel the way I am feeling right now.’
However, from that point she struggled with self-doubt – ‘who wants to hear from me, what do I have to say?’
Narum grew up on a small dairy farm near Douglas, North Dakota and has three older brothers. She is the baby of the family and was adopted because her parents wanted a brown-eyed girl.
She started public speaking in 4-H as a third grader. “I did well and I liked it,” she said. “In high school I was on the speech team, and again, I did well and I liked it. I had a wonderful coach who encouraged me to compete in radio broadcasting. I did, I loved it and I did well. That planted the seed, and I decided to go into radio broadcasting.”
During college, at Minot State, her brother was working in television, at KXMC TV. He discouraged her from going into broadcasting, telling her the hours were terrible and the pay stinks. “So I listened to him, he was my big brother,” she said. “But by my sophomore year I found myself at the campus radio station, KMSU, and it just clicked. I felt so comfortable, like I was home.”
She got excited, and signed up for all of the broadcasting classes. She also got a part time job at KXMC TV , shooting sports evenings and weekends. Eventually the station recruited and trained her to do some reporting.
During her senior year, the weekend anchor was on vacation and they picked Narum as the replacement. “That was the last thing I had an interest in,” she said. “I did not want to be in front of the camera. If I was going to do any broadcasting, it was going to be in a little room behind a microphone, no cameras on me. I had no confidence. Luckily I had good people who encouraged me and believed in me enough to help me along the way. I don’t really remember that first show. It couldn’t have been good.”
She said once she was able to let go of it being about her, she enjoyed it. “I realized this is information that people need to understand and trust. That is when I really came to love anchoring.”
The Television Years
She moved to Bismarck in 1994 to work at KFYR TV as the education reporter and weekend anchor. “Then Country Morning was ‘re-launched’ and I became the producer and anchor. Al Gustin did the farm news and Cliff Naylor did the weather. It was fun, despite the hours. Monday we always had animals and we had quite a menagerie over the years. One time we had a llama that would not get into the freight elevator. We ended up bringing the llama up the stairs, one person pulling and me pushing.”
During this time Narum dated a few guys, but “I wasn’t making good choices,” she said. “In April of 1996 I decided I was done, I didn’t need a man. I was happier when I wasn’t dating, I had good friends and I loved my job.”
In May, the new director of Camp of the Cross called her, said her mom had given him her number and would she be interested in doing a story on the camp. “And, while I had never said this to any prospective interview subject before, I suggested we have lunch,” said Narum. “I grew up going to Camp of the Cross. I was a counselor there for three summers during college. It was integral in my faith formation, as a child and during college. I was anxious to see what his vision was for ‘my’ camp.”
The new director, Jim Silrum, then invited Narum out to the camp to share her faith story with the staff. “He said I could stay over in one of the cabins and I ended up hanging out with him quite a bit, stayed with him at the campfire after everyone had left and then told myself I was not going to like him. We were engaged that October and married in August of 1997. It turned out that when my mom gave him my phone number, she hoped that something would spark. I never thought I would be so fortunate to have someone so wonderful in my life. We are best friends, we walk every morning and that is a great time for connecting. It is a good way to start the day.”
In 2001 Narum left the broadcast industry to become the Executive Director of the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House. She was there for two years. “I really wanted to do something that was meaningful, take what I knew in terms of public relations and be a voice for the organization. I wasn’t prepared to be a manager. I worked some of the longest days and felt so defeated. That experience spiraled me into a deep depression after I left, I felt like such a failure, and that is a big part of my message (now),” she explained.
She talked about the experience: “We are meant to learn from wherever we are on our journey, and I learned a lot. A lot about myself and a lot about relationships. The things I took away from that experience have helped to shape who I am now, in terms of being compassionate and understanding to others and to myself. I experienced some failures, but I can look back now and say, ‘I wasn’t a failure.’ As difficult as it was, I needed to have that experience because I became much stronger and as a result, more confident. I struggled with confidence and low self-esteem most of my life. Learning through failure and finding success in it, learning to work on my weaknesses and embracing my strengths. That is a big part of my message.”
She took some time off for reflection, journalling, reading and healing. She spent most of that time up at Camp of the Cross where her husband was still the director. It was a good retreat for her, she said.
However, Reiten television didn’t let her sit for long. A couple months after she left Ruth Meiers they called and said they were starting a 5:00 newcast and would she produce and anchor it? She jumped on board. A few years later they asked her to do the Noon Show. “I did not want to do the Noon Show, but ended up loving it,” she said. “Again, when I realized it wasn’t about me and how important it was to that person in the chair and how I could make them comfortable. And, it was always good news. That ultimately became the best part of my job.”
Because she has helped so many feel comfortable in front of the camera she has been asked to emcee and be the master of ceremonies at many events. “I have never said no. I really enjoy welcoming someone else to the microphone and I love celebrating people.”
Over the past four or five years, Narum started to have some unrest. She always had a hunger for self-improvement and professional development and finally realized if she was ever going to pursue that dream, she was going to have to make it happen. “A friend suggested John Maxwell and I began to do some research. I like what he represents and how he is building a team around the world.”
Narum left KXMB in January of 2014 to become self-employed. Her business is called Take21 Media Relations Consulting and Executive Coaching. One of the things she offers is media relations consulting to small businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to help them with their message. She helps them be confident, concise, clear and comfortable when dealing with the media, specifically television, which she knows a little about! The coaching is a result of the John Maxwell training she has.
She took the John Maxwell online university classes and now offers Mastermind groups, workshops, seminars and is doing some speaking engagements. “I can speak on ten different topics, but have kept my focus on four of them. The one I have been doing the most is, “Becoming a Person of Influence”. I like the way John Maxwell has broken down the word influence by each letter: A person of influence has Integrity, they Nuture others, they are all great lessons. And, I like to use object lessons, for instance, using a marshmallow to demonstrate integrity and trust.
“The thing that has surprised me the most is how I have been so familiar with fear, which is part of my message. It has always been there, bugging me. However, as I have stepped out to do this, I don’t have any fear. I have confidence and feel this is what I am supposed to do. I am working with people in a whole different way. I am learning to be patient, I love coaching people. I especially want young girls to hear my message of confidence and self-esteem. Right now I feel I am living the dream I had when I was twelve, to be a speaker with a message that is meaningful to people.”
Narum has tweaked one her messages that used to be titled, “Kick the Can’t”. She now calls it “Messed to Blessed” and she shares some of her struggles and how to gain confidence and self-esteem. “I really did feel like a mess, sometimes I still do,” she said. “I’m a recovering perfectionist and I find there are so many others out there, especially women. We need to give ourselves permission to follow our dreams and be ok with who we are.”
That is exactly what Marci Narum is doing now, following her dream and accepting who she is. A great example to follow.
For more information on Marci’s coaching, speaking and art, visit: