This page will attempt to showcase the histories of New Jersey AM Radio stations,
past and present.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any information you would like to contribute to this page and
you will be credited.
Some information provided by:
"The Airwaves Of New York:
Illustrated Histories Of 156 AM Stations In The
Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996"
WCHR - 920 AM, Trenton
920 went on the air April 11, 1941 as WTTM.
WTTM stood for "World Takes, Trenton Makes," a play on the old lower free bridge sign between Trenton and Morrisville PA, which says, "Trenton Makes, World Takes."
It was one of Trenton's leading stations from its inception into the early 1960's, once featuring television visionary Ernie Kovacs as a DJ.
Another prominent DJ was Ron Poleo, the "voice" of Boscov's department store.
WTTM featured MOR music in the daytime, nighttime blocks of Top 40 & R&B at night, and blocked programming on the weekends.
During the 1950's and 1960's, one of the main personalities was Tom Durand and his wife Billie.
Tom Durand was the first voice heard on WTTM back in 1942, saying "testing, testing...", before the station officially signed on.
Tom and Billie anchored the mornings for many years.
They also anchored Trenton High's famed "Sports Night", a 5 evening competition between the girls at the school, that was sold out every night (2500 fans).
They broadcasted and hosted the event on the air.
Tom and Billie were celebrities around the area for many years.
They were very famous in Trenton and loved by alot of listeners.
Some WTTM promo materials can be found here.
Another prominent personality on WTTM was Mary Logan, who had a daily show called "Fact And Fancy," which ran from 1955 to 1985, sponsored by the Flemington Fur Company.
In the late 1950's, WTTM's studios were in the Nationwide Insurance Building.
When Herb Scott bought the station in 1964, it moved to the Carteret Arms apartments.
In 1966, Ron Diamond brought his WIFI R&B-styled "Blavat-esque" show to WTTM, and it was a solid #1 at night in Trenton and neighboring Bucks County PA.
Diamond did nights from 1966 to 1970, when the show was taken over by Len Murray, and later by "Prince" Wooten.
Len was also PD from 1971 to 1972.
WTTM also featured R&B shows hosted by "The Bonnie Prince Charlie" Charlie Gitar, and later on, former WBUD R&B announcer George "Luthre" Bannister.
"Lucky Lou" also did an R&B show, which followed Ron Diamond's.
"Dick Somers" (aka Kevin Fennessey) handled the 1-4pm shift at the time.
In 1972, WTTM began to address the poor ratings performance of its daytime programming, cleaning house and changing the station's approach.
In the late 1970's, WTTM briefly went Top 40 as "920TTM".
The station's slogan was "WTTM: Get Us Into Your Life."
Some personalities during the 1970's included Sal Tee (who hosted a Sunday night R&B/doo-wop show), Dave Lord, Don Kirby, Bill Rickett, Ted Mills, Sean McKay, Joan Delfemine, Dan Dwyer and Mike Mayo.
Between 1980 and 1990, WTTM featured a country format (as "Double-T 93") during the week (Mon-Sat) and ethnic/religious programming on Sundays.
One person involved with the station at the time was Ted Winkler, who started out as a weekender in 1981, then in 1986, went full-time doing morning drive and doubling as the PD and engineer for the station.
He also hosted a Friday afternoon oldies show, "The Lunchtime Goldmine."
Some airchecks from 1980 & 1981, as well as some "Double T-93" jingles from 1988, can be heard here.
In the early 1990's, a talk format was featured.
From March 1992 to August 1997, personality Kathy Gettis hosted a conserative talk show entitled, "Equal Time With Kathy Gettis," which featured many diversified political guests.
In mid-1997, they briefly assumed a sports format as "The Team."
On November 10, 1997, the religious programming from WCHR-FM was simulcast, with calls offcially changing to WCHR on March 26, 1998, when the FM changed to oldies as WNJO.
The WTTM calls later resurfaced on 1680 AM in Princeton.
On September 3, 2002, WCHR dropped its religious programming and switched to sports as "ESPN Radio 920".
The religious format moved over to WJHR, 1040 in Flemington.
On September 10, 2002, 920 picked up the WPHY calls, while WCHR moved over to 1040.
On January 23, 2008, 920 acquired the WNJE calls briefly - and then regained the WCHR calls on February 5, 2008 as the result of a switch with 1040 AM in Flemington.
(Thanks to John M. Bensch, Russ Borner, Paul Bunting, "Da' Ladd", Robin Durand, Kevin Fennessy, Kathy Gettis, John Hendricks, Kate Logan, Michael Luper, Arn Schwartz and Ted Winkler for some of this information)
(Thanks to Lance Venta for digging up an old WTTM logo)
(Thanks to "Bob" for the WTTM T-shirt pic)
WTRL - 930 AM, Midland Park
Radio entrepreneur Donald W. May established the Technical Radio Laboratory in Midland Park, five miles north of Paterson and began operating WTRL on December 16, 1926 at 1450 AM.
In April 1927, WTRL moved to 930 AM and shared time with WODA, Paterson.
However in the summer of 1927, Donald May became increasingly involved with another one of his stations, WDWA, which was in the process of moving to Asbury Park, and apparently paid little attention to WTRL, whose license the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) soon moved to revoke.
May told a US Senate committee in February 1928 that the FRC had treated him unfairly when it had refused to grant WTRL with a power increase.
In June, New York area radio inspector Arthur Batcheller reported to the FRC that the station had been partly dismantled and had been out of operation for some time.
WTRL did gain some brief notoriety when radio inspectors reported that its transmitter was located in a barn and that "the transmitter room indicated its use for the housing of innumerable puppies."
In a letter to the commission, Senator James Watson of Indiana wrote that the dogs "may account for some of the 'howls' that we hear about radio... Also these yelps and snarls and growls going out on the night air may be accepted by some people as an inferior grade of grand opera or by others as high-class jazz... The gentleman who operates that station evidently has an eye for thrift if not an ear for harmony, for in all this broad land there probably is not another individual to whom it ever occured to hitch a dog kennel to a radio station."
"Inasmuch as you have no jurisdiction over the kennel, but have over the station, it is probably wise for you to demand a separation of the two industries by stopping the station."
Despite May's legal appeals, the "dog station" was shut down on September 1, 1928.
WPAT - 930 AM, Paterson
WPAT was first heard on May 3, 1941, at about the same time that hundreds of stations in North America were required by the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement to change frequency.
WPAT did not need to move, but was re-assigned from 900 AM, and began operation as a daytime station on 930 AM.
The principal backer of WPAT was engineer James Cosman, soon joined by Donald Flamm, who had recently sold WMCA.
The first studios were in the Exchange Building at 115 Ellison St., a landmark that had been the home of the O'Dea Temple of Music and WODA.
Among its first programs was "Radio Gravure", a weekly dramatization of stories from the picture pages of the Newark Sunday Call, which also provided local newscasts.
A year after its sign-on, WPAT added studios at 1060 Broad St. in Newark (the former WAAM and WNEW address.)
In 1943, WPAT moved out of the old Temple of Music to new studios at 7 Church St. in Paterson.
WPAT had a varied schedule in its first days.
Among its announcers were John Bartholomew Tucker and Joe Franklin, both of whom went on to become notable talk show hosts.
In 1948, Dave Miller came over from WAAT and brought with him WPAT's first country music program.
Also in 1948, the North Jersey Broadcasting Company, a subsidiary of the Passaic Herald-News, bought WPAT, and in 1949, the station was granted full-time status and moved to 66 Hamilton St.
Country music continued for 3/4 of its broadcast day; the evening was continuous "easy listening" music.
In March 1951, a new evening program premiered that would become the hallmark of WPAT and one of the most-copied formats in radio - it was called "Gaslight Revue."
"Gaslight" was more than just "audible wallpaper" - melodies had to flow gracefully into one another and WPAT's programmers arranged subtle switches in song tempos.
"Gaslight Revue" had such a faithful audience that albums of its music were put on the market.
The melodies were recorded and then transmitted back to the recording studio with a distinctly mellow WPAT pace and sound.
The philosophy of station president Dickens Wright - who became GM in 1950 and bought WPAT from the Herald-News in 1955 - was that "Gaslight" fans would stay tuned to "the center of the dial, at 93" during the daytime when commercials came closer together. WPAT was one of the first stations to seek a place on the FM band.
The transmitter site at Broad St. and Hepburn Rd. in Clifton became the studio site in 1957, and in 1959 the combined facilities of the AM and FM moved into a new building constructed there.
Over the years, WPAT also maintained studios and offices in Manhattan.
Also in 1959, WPAT took "News Around The Clock" from the New York Daily News after it was dropped by WNEW, before going to the Herald Tribune for its news.
Newscasters included Ken Roberts and Charles F. McCarthy and commentary was heard from humorist Goodman Ace, drama critic Martin Gottfried and authors Cleveland Amory and William Rusher.
In 1961, Dickens Wright sold WPAT to Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. for $5 million.
When FCC regulations required AM/FM pairs to operate separately, WPAT merely staggered the tapes that were used for each "Gaslight Revue."
In the mid 1960's, WPAT briefly broadcasted the Mets games, when WABC dropped them.
Around the same time, the station assumed a country music format.
By the 1970's, WPAT had mostly dropped program titles and added a few vocal selections to develop a "soft contemporary" format.
It even began to play Frank Sinatra records on Saturday nights.
WPAT started broadcasting in AM stereo in 1984.
In 1986, following the Cap Cities purchase of ABC, WPAT was sold to Park Communications.
At this time, more talk programming was instituted into the schedule.
Then in March 1996, WPAT was sold to Heftel (later Hispanic Broadcasting) and converted to a Spanish/ethnic format.
WPAT pictures are available here.
(Thanks to Al Christians for providing some of this information)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for sending in an old WPAT logo)
(WPAT Lamp, Note and Gaslight logos, courtesy of ... A WPAT tribute site that no longer exists)
WNYM - 970 AM, Hackensack
This station's origins go back to 1921 when WAAT signed on 833 AM.
The station was later ressurected on September 9, 1926 when Frank V. Bremer d/b/a Bremer Broadcasting Corp., signed on WKBD, later to be WAAT on 1270 AM, licensed to Jersey City.
An early slogan for the station was "The Voice At The Gate Of The Garden State."
Original studios were in the Hotel Plaza at 91 Ship Ave. in Jersey City.
Among the first programs was a nightly concert of dinner music direct from the hotel's dining room.
In February 1927, WAAT opened a Manhattan studio at 34 W. 28th St. and moved to 1220 AM.
In 1928, the station moved again to 1070 AM as a daytime-only station.
WAAT was one of the first stations in the metropolitan area to serve the black community, with the "Negro Achievement Hour" starting in 1929.
In 1930, another frequency change occured - moving from 1070 to 940 AM, still with daytime hours.
In 1931, WAAT moved out of Hotel Plaza and went to 50 Journal Square.
Frank Bremer continued as station manager, chief engineer and occasional announcer, but in 1936, he sold controlling interest to members of his management team and continued as an engineering executive.
In 1940 and 1941, the station received permission to move from Jersey City to Newark, open a new trasmitter in Kearney, double its power to 1000 watts, shift frequency from 940 to 970, and stay on the air 24 hours a day.
Studios in Newark were located at the Hotel Douglas at 15 Hill St.
The station later moved to the Mosque Theatre at 1020 Broad St.
(Photos of the Hotel Douglas and Mosque Theatre locations can be seen by clicking here.)
WAAT was often chasing WNEW for the same audience.
One of the more popular shows on WAAT was Dave Miller's "Hometown Frolics."
Other announcers included Maurice Hart, Wat Watkins, Steve Hollis, Fred Sayles and Bob Cook (a singer and DJ who was one of the first African-American announcers in the New York area) and a couple of DJ's who ended up later on at WNEW - Jerry Marshall and Bill "William B." Williams.
The station's biggest attraction was Paul Brenner and "Requestfully Yours," a repackaging of WAAT's "5:30 Request Club" from the 1930's.
WAAT staked an interest in FM & TV in the 1940's when it helped sign on WAAT-FM, 94.7 in Newark in 1947 and WATV (later WNET) Channel 13 in Newark on January 2, 1948.
Announcer Don Larkin gained recognition in the 1950's with his country-and-western show on WAAT, Hal Tunis played the newest big band releases and Bob Brown hosted the morning show, later moving to afternoon drive time.
In November 1951, Bremer Broadcasting Corp. was purchased by WAAT President Irving Rosenhaus.
On May 6, 1958, WAAT, along with its FM and TV properties, were sold for $2.5 million to National Telefilm Associates and changed calls to WNTA.
WNTA's music featured more down-tempo ballads in a format called "The Golden Sound."
But, the format turned out lacklaster and on March 31, 1962, WNTA was sold to Communications Industries Corp. and changed calls to WJRZ - but initially keeping the same music format.
WJRZ's airstaff included Dick Partridge (a former WNEW DJ), Les Davis, Bob Brown, Ed Nielson, Paul Brenner & Jerry White (a former PD of WPEN in Philadelphia.)
Jerry White ran the overnight show on WJRZ and was the first DJ to play Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
WJRZ also boasted a 12-man news department, run by news director Bob Leeder.
Some of the news dept. staff included Mike Becker & Dick Jennings.
Program Coordinators of WJRZ included Buzz Warren, Lee Arnold & Larry Hall; Operations Manager was Sid Sirulnick.
Then on September 15, 1965, WJRZ became the first station in the New York metropolitan area to play country music 24 hours a day.
Harry Reith was the GM; Ed Nielson was the PD.
Also in 1965, the station presented 3 hours nightly of classic drama and variety shows from radio's "golden age" under the title "Theater Of The Imagination."
The original WJRZ studios were at 32 Green St. in Newark, but in 1968 it moved both studios and transmitter.
(A photo of the Green St. location can be seen by clicking here.)
Abandoning the old WAAT trasmitter in Kearney, the improved antenna location was on the banks of the Hackensack River and power output was boosted to 5000 watts full-time.
The FCC also allowed WJRZ to change its offcial "city of license" when it settled down at 497 Hackensack Ave. in Hackensack.
The ABC Entertainment Network provided news on the half hour and WJRZ's own news staff, including Dick Jennings, Bob Leeder and John O'Shea, did local reports at the top of the hour.
Also in 1968, WJRZ added sports coverage, including full coverage of the New York Mets.
From 1969 to 1972, WJRZ was granted FCC Experimental Authority to use the Kahn AM Stereo system - in effect, making them the first station in NJ to broadcast in AM Stereo.
The station's studios were damaged in a fire that broke out on October 17, 1970, forcing them to move to a temporary prefab at the trasmitter site.
As 1970 drew to a close, WJRZ revised its format, dropping country in favor of rock music.
And on January 6, 1971, the station was sold to Pacific and Southern Broadcasting for $6 million and changed calls to WWDJ on May 16, 1971.
Former WNEW manager David Croninger came to run the station.
Detroit DJ Bill Bailey, ex-WMCA "Good Guy" Dean Anthony and a nighttime host called Bwana Johnny were "the screamin' jocks from Hackensack."
New York Mets baseball coverage continued through the end of the 1971 season.
Later on, Don Cannon replaced Bill Bailey for morning drive, music director Mike Phillips took the noontime show and program director Sean Casey did afternoon drive.
But by 1974, it was obvious that the station wasn't atttracting a sufficient number of fans - most of whom went over to the FM band.
On April 1, 1974, WWDJ played its last rock song and said goodbye.
It returned with inspirational programming - "The New Voice Of Inspiration For The Metropolitan Area."
Since the change took place on April Fools Day, some listeners thought the hymns and sermons were intended as a joke - but they weren't.
WWDJ had become the first full-time commercial AM religious station in the New York area.
In 1994, WWDJ was sold to Salem Communications and became a sister station to WMCA.
A photo of WWDJ's Hackensack location on Main St. can be seen by clicking here.
On July 25, 2008, 970 initially changed calls to WTTT, then on August 6, 2008, calls changed to WNYM.
The station has dropped it's long-running religious format and is now "conservative talk" as "970 The Apple."
In March 2012, "The Apple" became "The Answer."
(Thanks to Doug Douglass & Dave Schutz for some of this information)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for an old WWDJ logo)
(Thanks to Walt Santner for providing info via Billboard magazine, Nov. 9. 1963 & Billboard magazine, Aug. 21, 1965)