Sirius about radio, Laura Heywood '01
by Stacey Wilson '96
In a city of bus and subway riders, Laura Heywood just might be the only person in New York who can see her apartment building from work.
“See? There. That purplish building,” she says, pointing west toward Times Square from the 36th floor of the midtown headquarters for Sirius Satellite Radio. “The walk from my bedroom to my office is about five minutes, so I get pretty good sleep.”
You can’t blame Laura for wanting to catch a few extra winks these days. As a senior producer for Maxim Radio (yes, as in Maxim magazine), the 2001 UPS graduate spends her harried days planning, coordinating, and helping book celebrities and other in-studio guests for “The Stretch Show,” an L.A.-based talk program that airs daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
When she says “celebrities,” Laura refers to boldface names like NFL star Jerry Rice, Hollywood starlet Eva Mendes, and comedian David Spade. And by “in-studio guests,” she usually means girls. Lots and lots of girls.
“Our listeners are like Maxim readers. They want to hear celebrities like Jessica Alba, but they also want to hear girls talk about dating and sex.” She pauses and chuckles. “My job can be pretty hilarious sometimes.”
Although she was a theater major at UPS, Laura, a Bay Area native, always knew she wanted to try her hand at radio. In her sophomore year she scored a time slot on KUPS doing an
all-a cappella show (at the unseemly hour of 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings, no less), an opportunity she parlayed into a three-hour pop music show the following year and, ultimately, the coveted gig of station general manager in her senior year.
Managing 100 volunteers and paperwork for 10 employees “wasn’t really my thing,” Laura admits, but she reveled in the creative opportunities the post afforded her. “I was able to create cool stuff like the KUPS ‘Faculty Hour,’ which I think is still on today,” she says, beaming. “I was really in my element.”
Laura also demonstrated an early aptitude for networking. While debating which to choose among 10 different offers she received for summer internships in 2000, she consulted the UPS ASK Network and soon connected with Julie Jacobson Gates ’90, then an on-air radio personality in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I think Julie was impressed that I sought specific help from her instead of just, ‘Radio sounds cool. Can you get me a job?’” says Laura. “And she gave me the best advice: Take a position in programming over promotions, even if it’s unpaid, which I ultimately did.”
That led to on- and off-air jobs in the Bay Area for sports radio (including a stint producing live World Series coverage), for a hip-hop station, and then for a classic rock outfit.
The latter was her last gig on the West Coast before moving to New York in early 2005 after a friend, who’d recently been hired by Sirius Radio, said he needed to hire a woman who could “hold her own with a bunch of guys and could deal with guy culture.”
“That was me!” says Laura. “I really love my job. I love living in the city. Sometimes I’m amazed at how great things have worked out.”