The daughter of local children's entertainer Fred Penner -- the former star of CBC's long-running kids' show Fred Penner's Place -- is the new Manitoba-based host for the corporation's five-hour morning block of children's programs.
The recent graduate of Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, who prefers to be known by her stage name Hayley Gene or just plain Hayley, joins four other regional hosts for short local inserts between popular children's shows such as Arthur, Franklin, Rolie Polie Olie and Little Bear, which air on CBC TV weekdays from 7 a.m. to noon.
"I definitely feel that it is important that children not see cartoons all the time, but they see real people," she says of her role in connecting with preschool-aged viewers.
Penner will bring her guitar and big smile to local sites around Winnipeg, taping short segments from kid-friendly places like festivals, museums, parks, playgrounds and day-care centres, to be broadcast in Manitoba and Saskatchewan beginning Sept. 1, says producer Wendy Smith.
Her segments will air on the national network on Saturday mornings, along with the other hosts, which include Newfoundlander Dashi Malone (son of comedian Greg Malone), Joyce Quansah of Quebec, Kush Uppal of British Columbia and Patty Sullivan from Toronto.
Penner brings an impressive array of performing experience to this part-time role, including eight years of singing with the Winnipeg foursome, The 4 Corners, a stint with the Winnipeg Youth Chorus, and of course, performing with her dad.
Although she doesn't want to trade on his name, Penner says growing up as Fred Penner's daughter has taught her much about how to entertain and interact with children.
"I certainly think he's been a positive role model for me in this industry, because you don't have to talk down to (children)," she says, adding she wants to maintain his respectful approach as she develops her own career.