Jud Heussler’s leap from the classroom into a successful radio career is a testament to The Park School’s notion of hands-on learning.
Heussler graduated from Park in 2008, then headed to college at SUNY Fredonia intending to major in TV and film. Working at the college radio station led him down a different path. Now, at the ripe old age of 22, Heussler holds the position of Music Director and afternoon on-air personality for Kiss 98.5, Buffalo’s top FM pop music station.
Huessler got a taste of broadcasting in his Media Class at Park, when he and his class made a documentary that included an interview with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “For my senior project I got a foot in the door here at Entercom,” he says. “I got to shadow a person at WGR (Radio 550) for two weeks. Park showed me how to guide myself into success.”
In his freshman year at Fredonia, he got involved with the campus radio station and added another major to his academic record, in audio-radio production. The following summer he served an internship in the promotions department at Entercom Buffalo. The next summer saw him intern in Entercom’s music programming department. Huessler won six Intercollegiate Broadcasters Systems (IBS) awards while at Fredonia and was named top college air talent in the country by IBS in 2011 and 2012.
“Entercom hired me to do web content and video stuff, and they put me on the air as a fill-in,” he recalls. “And then I was promoted to a regular weekend shift, on Saturday and Sunday nights.
“My senior year at Fredonia, eight weeks before I graduated, I was told that the person working the afternoon shift (on Kiss 98.5) was moving away, and they asked me to take it on in the interim. I went through the whole process of interviewing before I was offered the job full-time. It was pretty unheard of, to get this kind job right out of college. I was very surprised that everything fell the way it did.”
It’s hard not to envy Heussler’s job, particularly when he talks about meeting pop stars and other celebrities.
“I plan the shows, I line up the artists, and I get to meet them,” he said. “When Carrie Underwood was here, I got to go backstage and meet her. There are different meet-and-greets – it’s probably one of the coolest things about the job.”
Last December’s Kissmas Bash, an annual concert event, was particularly memorable. “I did the whole afternoon air shift from the lobby of the First Niagara Center,” Heussler says. “I got to interact with all of these people who came in. When I’m on the radio, I’m talking to 80,000 people but in a room by myself. It was fun to see all these people come by and watch us broadcast. Then at the show, I was onstage with 16,000 screaming people. It was a great time.”
Earlier this year Huessler was named Radio Personality of the Year by the Buffalo Broadcasters Association (Buffalo Excellence in Media Association) and is a contender for Buffalo Business First’s “30 Under 30” award which will be announced later this year. In addition to his on-air responsibilities, he has expanded the internship program at Entercom Buffalo, allowing more students than ever to get internships inside the company. An advocate of the importance of higher education, he’s a frequent speaker at area high schools and colleges and is a volunteer at Children's Hospital and Summit Educational Resources.
Huessler looks back with gratitude for his Park education and teachers.
“Mrs. Miller was big for the whole college selection process. Mr. Besch was great for guidance, and Mrs. Jeswald, my homeroom teacher, she was good to talk to when you just needed to decompress about something.
“Park lets you think critically for yourself. It taught me how to make decisions. No one ever stood in the way of letting you grow as a person.”