Why I Always Wanted To Be In Radio


Last week, we reported that Beasley Media promoted Debbie Mazella to Program Director at WMGQ-FM in Central New Jersey. Mazella started her career at WMGQ in 2007, adding APD duties a year later. With her promotion last week she became the first female PD in the station’s history. Mazella says ever since childhood she wanted to be involved in radio. We reached out to Mazella to ask her why.

Radio Ink: You said since you were a little kid you always wanted to be involved in radio. Tell us more about that.
Mazella: Well, my parents were into music, and always had the radio on in the house or the car. Then, when I was 12 years old, I won a radio contest that awarded me a New Year’s Eve phone call from my favorite member of KISS, Ace Frehley. After asking him questions about his onstage persona, guitars, and telling him I dressed as him for Halloween, he asked how old I was, and when he found out I was 12, he said, “For someone so young, you asked some good questions, and should think about doing something involving music or radio someday.” That was all I needed to hear! I became a member of my college radio station (WSIA) where I first met Dan Finn, and after that, worked as a traffic reporter for CBS 880, that segued into middays on WJLK, and 10 years ago, I started working for Magic 98.3, and well, here we are!

Radio Ink: What made you want to become a Program Director and what specifically did you do to pursue that goal?  
Mazella: I always wanted to be on the air, and after that, I started to become curious about the music logs, how songs were added into rotation, where the research came from, things like that. It’s changed drastically from when I first joined WJLK in 1999, but the curiosity is still there, and so is the passion for putting a great product on the air each day.

Radio Ink: Who mentored you along the way and how did they help you?
Mazella: Greg Adamo, the former GM of my college radio station was one of my first mentors. He brought me on board at WSIA, and taught me a little bit of everything. Mike Kaplan of Alt 98.7, who was my first PD at WJLK. He invested a lot of time in me, doing weekly air checks, showing me how to create music logs, and always told me he admired my passion for music and radio. I briefly got to work with Jim Ryan from CBS radio (he consulted Magic for two years) and he was so easy to work with and offered a lot of insight. Jeff Rafter, the former PD here at Magic. His influence, guidance, and expertise were priceless, and he also showed me what it takes to be a good manager. And now, working with Buzz Knight and Justin Chase begins the next phase of my radio career, and I couldn’t ask for two better people. I also want to mention Dan Finn, who asked me to join his team at Magic 10 years ago.

Radio Ink: Do you believe it’s harder for women to become program directors?
Mazella: I remember seeing the Radio Ink article from last May, where you featured the Top 50 programmers in the country, and only four of them were women. I think that shows there is room for growth, and going forward, maybe there will be more opportunity.

Radio Ink: What are your goals as a PD at the station and what are your long-term goals in the radio business?
Mazella: I want to build on our success and continue to put the best product on the air, while maintaining and growing the relationship with our audience and clients. As far as long term, I want to continue to learn, grow, and evolve in an industry that I have always loved and wanted to be a part of since my youth.

Reach out to congratulate Mazella at [email protected]


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