Twenty-seven-year old Jud Heussler is the program director for Curtis Media’s WPLW & WWPL in Raleigh, NC. He started his life in radio as an intern with WGR-AM in Buffalo when he was a senior in high school. Then, while attending Fredonia as an audio/radio/TV/film major — he also has a minor in criminal justice — he interned in the promotions department with Entercom Buffalo. A year later, his internship was in the programming department.
Entercom Buffalo OM Sue O’Neil then hired Jud, giving him three hours a week to do odds and ends. “It was exciting to see Jud literally grow up in front of our eyes, from intern to assistant program director,” she says. “His work ethic is phenomenal and passion for his craft immense. Jud is a special person and a superstar for sure.”
Heussler hosted his first airshift on WKSE (Kiss 98.5) in Buffalo on Halloween night 2010. In 2012, with six weeks left in his senior year, he was given the opportunity to do afternoon drive and take over music director duties. He attended classes in the morning, did radio in the afternoon, and never looked back. In late 2016 he was hired by Curtis Media as the program director at WPLW & WWPL.
Heussler reports to Curtis VP/Programming Lisa McKay, who says, “When we hired Jud, we literally hit the jackpot. He sees the upside in every situation, brings old school radio skills with new school passion and a complete understanding of how to shine by using social media to brand the New Pulse FM. He is a difference-maker as we target the heritage Top 40 and is already making serious inroads. Plus Jud is a joy to work with — his staff loves him, and he is giving them the direction to be local radio stars!”
Let’s find out why this millennial chose radio as a career.
Radio Ink: How and why did you choose radio?
Heussler: I was that kid growing up that shared way too much with strangers. I got yelled at more than once for oversharing personal and family things with people. Now I get paid to do that! My parents are also professional concertgoers, so I was raised with music being a big part of our family life, too.
Radio Ink: There is a perception that millennials don’t want to get into the radio business. Is that true?
Heussler: I think millennials do want to work in radio. I’ve had a ton of interns looking to break into the business, and I’ve been lucky enough to see some of them land jobs. I’m not sure the industry has done a great job opening the door enough for millennials. Fewer opportunities will lead to less interest, and that’s not a great path for radio.
Radio Ink: What do your friends think about you being in radio?
Heussler: They either want to know who I’ve met, if I can get them tickets to something, or how I got to where I am today. (I’ve met a bunch of people, no, you can’t have tickets, and a lot of hard work!) I tell people that I always said yes. I took whatever opportunities came my way, from working any shift to working the front desk and being a part of morning show bits.
Radio Ink: What interests you most about your job?
Heussler: The interaction I have with listeners and community leaders. Making a difference is an incredible feeling. From being a part of your listeners’ commute to raising money or items for charity, that connection is amazing.
Radio Ink: What do you find most exciting?
Heussler: All the crazy cool things I get to do. Going backstage at shows, interviewing celebrities, judging food competitions, being recognized by your voice in public. It’s all awesome!
Radio Ink: What are your biggest challenges?
Heussler: My decision to leave Kiss 98.5 in Buffalo and move to Raleigh for this program director position. I was leaving home for the first time, leaving the only radio building I had ever worked in, and moving 700 miles away. Thankfully I had the incredible support of my wife, family, and friends. It was a challenge, but the best decisions often are.
Radio Ink: How does digital impact your job?
Heussler: We are so much more than radio stations now. We are content producers. Most things we do now are for the air, social sites, the website, and more. It also allows us to be more integrated with our listeners. We can communicate with them 140 characters at a time. It’s so important to have “touches” with listeners, and the digital space has only made that easier.
Radio Ink: What are you doing to train yourself to be successful?
Heussler: Be a sponge — I try to learn from everyone I encounter. That’s absolutely how I got to where I am today. There is so much you can learn from just watching the pros work. I have been incredibly lucky to work for and work with so many industry greats.
Radio Ink: What are your long-term goals?
Heussler: My longest-term goal is to keep having fun, and right now I’m having a blast! I would like to continue to grow in my career someday, becoming an operations manager or general manager and beyond. If it all doesn’t work out, I’m becoming a potato farmer out in Idaho (hashtag #JudsSpuds).