Major mistake: The daughter of a broadcast journalist, Heckert majored in advertising at the University of South Carolina. “It was time to graduate and I thought, ‘This isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.’” She applied for an editorial internship at Atlanta magazine (an Emmis publication), although she admits to being naïve about the business. “The first thing they said was, ‘Can you send clips?’ I had to look up what ‘clips’ were.”
Generalizing: Heckert knew from the start she had found her calling in regional magazines. “I loved that it was general interest,” she said. “One day you could be trying out cupcakes and the next day you’re looking at court filings.” Another Atlanta publication, Newcomer, offered her an editing job. “I was in charge of doing just about everything except selling and designing. It was a crash course in how to put out a magazine.”
Storming Atlanta: She took a risk on returning to Atlanta magazine to fill in while an editor was on maternity leave. That editor didn’t return, opening up a full-time spot for her. When the top editorial job opened at Atlanta’s sister publication, Indianapolis Monthly, Heckert moved north.
Family: husband, Justin
Atlanta versus Indy: “Atlanta always had so much going on—it’s the city that’s too busy to hate. But I feel like it was maybe not as hungry as Indianapolis feels right now. It’s an exciting time here.” With one caveat: “I’ll be honest,” she said. “Coming from the South, this cold is killing me.”
Staying relevant: Atlanta, Heckert noted, is a transient place. In Indianapolis, there are so many people who know the city. “To stay relevant, you have to be able to surprise them and make them look at things differently. Our challenge is to continue to engage people when there is less and less free time. Magazines tend to be things you read in your spare time. And we really have to make it worth their time.”
The question she’s most often asked: “What restaurant should I try?”•