Local woman makes her mark in community television
By Lisa Cipriano
Working hard is a strong Chaldean trait and Dana Denha does just that. She’s a wife and mother in addition to being a talk show host, producer, script writer, editor, audio technician and camera operator at Community Television Network in Ann Arbor.
The 35-year-old Denha learned that strong work ethic from her father while growing up in Sterling Heights.
“My father is an independent business owner in Southeast Michigan. As a child he built his business, Eddie’s Produce, from the ground up. He worked long hours and still does to this day to support his family,” explained Denha.
Denha hit the ground running by entering the workforce early and never let the moss grow under her feet.
“I started working at the age of 14 and have not stopped since. As an immigrant from Baghdad, Iraq my dad showed me how important a strong work ethic is to thrive in this country and how to sacrifice your own self so your family does not go wanting. At times, I felt as if he expected more from me when it came to work and I attribute my successes to having a strong Chaldean role model to look up to. I’m proud to say I am Eddie Denha’s daughter and I would not be the woman I am today without my father,” Denha added.
Denha attended Wayne State University and graduated with not one, but two Bachelor’s Degrees: one in fine arts/ photography and another in communication and media studies. She quickly landed a coveted internship at WDIV-TV in Detroit. That led her to City of Dearborn Television and eventually to her now 11 year home at CTN Ann Arbor.
Denha packed-up and moved to Ann Arbor to be closer to her job when she realized that she had found a place where she could spread her wings and fly.
Along with being a full-time producer at the network, Denha is the host of multiple shows including a weekly news magazine program called FYI which she has expanded for over a decade.
“I get complete freedom. I’m picking the stories. I’m picking the content and doing the things that I love to do,” said Denha.
Denha has chosen to use her platform on FYI to provide viewers with important community information, promote the arts, including authors and plays as well as giving voice to all too often marginalized groups.
“For instance, I recently did a show about transgender issues. That’s a big issue how that’s evolving. You never really used to hear about transgender people and the obstacles that they face. It used to be a big secret and now people are out in the open about sexual orientation,” Denha explained.
In fact, Denha not only found her creative freedom at CTN Ann Arbor, but she also a found the love of her life in a fellow producer at the station. She and her husband, Robert, are now the proud parents of a 2-year-old daughter named Keaton.
Motherhood has led Denha to wearing yet another hat at CTN Ann Arbor as co-host of show called Adventures in Parenthood. As all parents know, parenthood is indeed an adventure and there is no handbook on doing it right. But, Denha and her co-host Melissa Bondy try to help by tackling a range of topics that moms and dads might face.
“It fills a niche that we didn’t have here at CTN. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with parenting a 2-year-old. It’s about parenting in general. As a first time parent, I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Denha.
Denha’s other baby, FYI, recently was honored with a first-place award out of more than a hundred submissions from three states at the annual Philo Festival of Media Arts Video Competition at their annual conference in October in Alliance, Ohio.
“FYI is very special to me and I am always striving to keep the show new and exciting and evolve with the ever-changing digital world. In my decade of producing FYI, it has won 5 first place Philo Awards as well as a national Hometown Video Award. Knowing how successful it has been just makes me want to aim higher. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”
With all of that creative freedom at her fingertips, there’s no telling what impact this hardworking daughter of an immigrant will continue to make in the future.
You don’t have to be in Ann Arbor to enjoy Denha’s shows. You can watch online by going to: www.a2gov.org/watchctn or at www.youtube. com/ctnannarbor. She’s also open to hearing about what is important to viewers. You can email her with subject matter suggestions at: ddenha@a2gov. org/ctn.