Meet Radio Milwaukee’s New Executive Director

Maxie C. Jackson III wants to know what makes current and future listeners tick.

Ask Radio Milwaukee’s new executive director about his goals for the station, and he’s not shy. “I want us to be an essential public media organization,” Maxie C. Jackson III says. “If we do our job, in five years, we will be the standard that everybody looks at and says, ‘Yeah, that’s how you do it. That’s what public media is supposed to look like.’”  

How does he plan to make that happen? We sat down with him to find out.  

What drew you to the job at Radio Milwaukee?  

I’m attracted to the mission and vision of the organization, and the passion and dedication to that mission. And I see that in our membership and our community of listeners. These are people who want this to be an inclusive community. I am 56 now and getting to that point where I want to make sure that the work I do leaves a very positive mark on not only the [public media] industry, but the community that I’m serving.  



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Radio Milwaukee has music, podcasts and now HYFIN, a station celebrating Black music. What’s next?  

The whole organization is doing a pretty exhaustive listening tour. We [want to] understand what the true needs, wants and aspirations of the patch quilt communities of this region are. LGBTQ+, women of a certain age, Gen X, African American professionals, second-generation English-dominant Hispanics, millennials – what makes them tick? The more we know that, the more our music content, storytelling and journalistic work will be informed.  

How will this new information help the station?  

We’re asking a real fundamental question right now: Can you really be a unifier through music programming? I think the jury’s out on that. As much as we aspired to be an inclusive platform with 88Nine, the audience is overwhelmingly white – like 90%. I don’t know if that’s because of the way we programmed it musically or formatted it, but it did not accomplish that goal in the true sense. HYFIN is an opportunity for us to do a direct pitch to the Black and BIPOC communities. But when we talk about unifying, I actually think the opportunity might be in some of our non-music programming, so we’re looking at storytelling. I think that there’s an opportunity for us to grow out some journalistic elements for the organization.  

You’re coming into the job after the abrupt resignation of ​​Kevin Sucher, who was executive director for just two years. How has that transition been?  

During his tenure, and I guess immediately after, there was a bit of an exodus from here. I think there may be some folks in our building who still have some lingering effects from that experience, but I met with every one of the staff members and, across the board, there is a great deal of enthusiasm, not only about my arrival and the change in leadership, but they remain deeply excited about what we’re standing for, what our mission and vision is and how they can contribute to it.

Maxie C. Jackson III; Photo by Erin Bagatta

Get to Know Maxie C. Jackson III 

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan 

Age: 56 

Favorite Artist: Prince 

Studies: Classical African civilizations and spiritual cultivation systems 

Family: Wife Carmen Samuels-Jackson, son and daughter 

Last Gig: Chief content officer, New England Public Media


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s December issue.

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Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.