Jess Duda, Creator, Executive Producer & Host

The Day Job Artist I Creator & Host I Jess Duda
Photo by Jacob Snavely

My day jobs started at a young age. At 9, I cleaned a family friend’s house – alone. (It was the mid-80’s.) I then went on to baby sitting at 11, started a 3-year woodworking craft business at 14, bussed tables at The Holiday Inn at 16, and ushered at Regal Cinemas at 17. I had a brief stint on the line at a distribution center at 18 and I quickly ditched it for a desk job to make sales calls to golf courses. During college, I was a live-in family cook and nanny to pay for my B.A. in International Economics at American University. I later obtained an M.A. in Applied Politics there as well. 

In the ensuing 20 years, my notable day jobs have included: Impact director for social justice documentaries, campaign strategist, content producer, and public policy analyst. I’ve worked across media, advocacy, government, the private sector, and academia. Like Ira Glass, I got my start in audio production as a volunteer producer for Pacifica Radio – WPFW in Washington DC. (Their Sunday music programming is a-maz-ing.) I used to think this was a wayward career path, and now see it makes me uniquely qualified to interview people across day jobs. 

Podcast Production

Al Houghton & Dubway Studios

If it wasn’t for the generosity of Al Houghton, this project would be a fantasy. A previous iteration of The Day Job Artist was recorded at his Dubway Studios, located in lower Manhattan. This included his oh-so-pleasant team of editing and tracking sound engineers: Dylan Castaldi, Zac Suscovich, Sam Palumbo, and Rowan Brind, as well as studio manager Nicole Muzii. They also provided sound engineering for the later pilot run episodes recorded in host Jess Duda’s Brooklyn living room, for which Al offered pro bono studio design advice and a referral of a stellar contractor.

Chris Smiley, Recording Studio Contractor

Chris Smiley took on the job of converting host Jess Duda’s living room into a world class recording studio. A day job artist guitar player, Chris worked with the utmost care, caution, and attention to detail on a tight budget and timeframe. There was literally blood on his hands from setting up the “turnbuckles” to hang 20 sound panels from the ceiling.

Rick Kwan, Senior Audio Engineer

The living room performances are album-like quality because Rick Kwan is a Grammy-nominated audio engineer who has worked with the likes of James Taylor, My Morning Jacket, Fred Hersch, Tom Tom Club and many more who recorded at the legendary Avatar Studios. He also works on acclaimed radio shows/podcasts for WNYC, NPR, Gimlet, First Look Media and others.

April Schroer, Associate Producer

April helped with a huge variety of tasks with a wonderful attitude, reliability, and ease. This spanned: setting-up the studio, serving as a video production assistant and asset manager, booking guests, food runs and more. She graduated in 2016 with a BFA in Film from Montclair State University. She has done outreach and marketing for documentary films including The Collector of Bedford Street, Body & Soul: Diana & KathyEverybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray, and Just One Drop. She is currently an Art Department Coordinator for the NBC show, New Amsterdam.

Brian Inocencio, Videographer

Brian shot upcoming videos of the pilot run performances working on the fly within a short time frame. He is a Taiwanese-American cinematographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, freelancing for Imagine Science Films, Show of Force, Andrew Zimmeran Pilot Episode – Food Planet, NBCUniversal, GZero Media, Labocine, NowThis, Talk Stoop and Digico Scope. He also works as a second camera operator and a digital imaging technician for POV American Documentary. He has shot two feature length documentary films, “Dykes, Camera, Action!” and “This Kid Can Spit,” which are currently both in post-production. His film DOG.WALKER. is also in post-production. He graduated 2017 from the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Social Documentary Film Program.

Web Development & Design

Francois Huyghe, Web Developer, 13 Milliseconds 

If it wasn’t for Francois, the host Jess Duda, would have pulled out all of her hair and then jumped out of the window after trying to set up the website. His quick response and flexibility were fundamental to the launch of this project. He has worked on award-winning PBS documentaries and other major media outlets as well as for social justice, nonprofit, arts and education clients. 


Another reason The Day Job Artist website is so beautiful is due to the talented photographers who have contributed to the site in various capacities. 

The images from Judson Arts Wednesdays are by their resident photographer Michelle Thompson, who is also a talented singer-songwriter-musician forthcoming on the show. (Can’t wait!) 

The eye-popping living room images are by Jacob Snavely, a professional interior photographer also a part of the Judson community. 

Melanie McLean Brooks, a former apprentice to Annie Leibovitz, was both the photographer and videographer of our pre-pilot episode recording of the illustrious cabaret duo The Gay Agenda among other beautiful imagery of where we recorded at Dubway Studios.

Liam Liu took beautiful images of the team and podcast studio.

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