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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"
Dave Hughes' NYRTV website (no longer online)
Jeff Miller's History Of American Broadcasting website
Do you, or anyone you know, work in NJ radio, either now or in the past?
is looking for you!
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WOND - 1400 AM, Pleasantville
WOND went on the air in July 1950.
John Struckell was WOND's first GM (later going on to WFPG), and George Anthony Struckell was the primary announcer (and also a DJ) on the station.
WOND started off with a variety format - even featuring a classical music program at night with Bill German as host.
Between 1956 and 1958, WOND was billed as "WONDerful Music", featuring the Adult Standards of the day, such as big band artists (Ray Anthony, Les Brown) and vocalists (Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Jerry Vale).
WOND also featured a regular Lawrence Welk show.
Gordon Spencer hosted a jazz show once a week; other DJ's at this time included Bob Richter and Larry Carle (who was also a salesman; Carle also worked at WFPG in the 1960's).
The following is an excerpt from Gordon Spencer's memoir about his time at WOND:
Atlantic City always lured me.
Since childhood it had seemed so glamorous.
My parents took Gene and me there often.
So, not making it in Philadelphia in the summer of ’56, I contacted Atlantic City stations.
Amazingly an AM pop music station, WOND, Pleasantville, on the mainland across from Atlantic City, was looking for an overnight d.j. to take over in the fall.
“WONDerful music,” was the slogan.
It featured the kind of thing adults would love, not rock and roll.
The sounds of Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr, Patti Page, Lawrence Welk, The Four Lads, Pat Boone, Gogi Grant, Perry Como, Doris Day and some of the same stars whose records I’d already featured just a few years before on WNAR.
Clearly I knew something about that stuff already.
I got the job.
Hired by program director John Struckell.
I found a furnished apartment in Ventnor but also had to devise a way to complete my B.A. degree at Temple.
No more performing in plays.
Driving 65 miles each way and dovetailing that with my shift wouldn’t be easy.
I didn’t want to deal with morning rush hour traffic for daytime classes.
I didn’t want to hunt for a daytime parking space near Temple in the afternoon.
The best choice was early evening courses.
Not every day.
I’d sleep in the morning and return to A.C. no later than 9 p.m.
The drive was never easy.
About two and half hours along the Black Horse or White Horse Pike.
There was no expressway.
My second-hand 1947 Chrysler was as unreliable as I was as a driver.
My parents had never driven.
Nor had my brother.
We had never had a car.
The only people in my family who did were my New York aunts, and they only used them in the summer.
I had gone to driving school and had to take extra courses; I didn’t have the aptitude or the coordination, failing several driver’s tests.
I acquired the Chrysler without anyone’s knowledgeable advice.
Why that car?
Because it had a “semi-automatic” shift, which I thought would make it easier to switch gears.
The clutch was less essential, a good thing considering my lack of driving talent.
Plus the red plush seats looked classy.
The Chrysler had been getting me to and from WFLN but I had to struggle to find street parking near my one-room apartment in Center City.
Collecting a few tickets, causing a couple of accidents while not being insured, my WFLN salary had always dwindled.
After leaving FLN, I drove as little as possible so as not to have to pay too often for gasoline, frequently parking at a friend’s house way out in Frankford.
Soon after I started at WOND, I noticed that I was regularly running out of oil.
An Atlantic City car mechanic told me that a piston ring job would solve the problem.
When he told me the cost I was floored.
But oil was cheap.
So I kept a carton of cans in the trunk.
So long as I didn’t drive more than 35 miles per hour, one can of oil would get me from Philly to Atlantic City, or back.
Of course, it did slow the trip.
WOND was on a short street named “Old Turnpike” which tapered off into a dirt road on the edge of marshes.
The two story frame house sat on pilings designed to save it if the marshes flooded.
There were no other buildings nearby.
The on-air studio looked out on a wooden catwalk over the marshes and out to the transmitter, pile-driven into soggy soil amid waving fronds.
Way out there, I learned, the station signal could travel easily out to the ocean, carrying the broadcasts as far away as eastern Long Island.
I’d be heard in New York!
Like d.j.s John and his brother George (“George Anthony”), Larry Carle, and Bob Richter, I could play any records I wanted so long as they were “wonderful.”
And, especially, no rock and roll.
The station was beginning to get a lot of that from record companies, usually on the new 45 rpm format, little discs with only space enough for about four minute’s worth of non-wonderful music.
Any such arrivals were immediately handed over to chief engineer Milt Thurlow who had orders to thoroughly scratch them with a screwdriver and throw them out.
So, I had my first all-night show.
Midnight to 6 a.m.
It felt glamorous, as if there was an intimate connection between me, completely in command of the studios, with people out there in the dark hanging on to my every word and every note of every record I chose to play for them.
Being in the station totally alone was different than being at WFLN with everyone always busy in the offices, or at WHAT with visitors constantly dropping in.
This was a deep night on a deserted road with stars clearly shining overhead, far enough away from Atlantic City but close enough to be able to see its bright lights twinkling across the bay.
And, every so often, someone would call, a person of the night, and we’d have a friendly chat.
I developed fans, of course.
I didn’t have to do or say anything special.
I just had to be there.
Never feeling sleepy, I was alive and happy all through the fall and winter, managing a few classes without much difficulty, able to keep up with the cost of oil.
Filling up the oil and checking the gas.
My first spring at WOND things changed.
I married Vene Cipriotti, my beloved girl friend from Temple, from which she had just graduated, even though I hadn’t yet.
We had met when performing in plays although she was a journalism major with ambitions of being a writer.
Given that she had considerable typing skill already she found a job as a secretary working at The Steel Pier for the Hamid family, which owned it and many local movie theaters.
She started writing their advertising copy.
Which I would then read on the air.
We rented a top floor motel apartment in Ventnor.
Furnished, of course, with an arrangement to pay summer rates, $150 a month (equal to about $1,225.00 in 2012) for six months getting the other six months free.
Meanwhile I was still taking evening classes back in Philadelphia.
And my hours at WOND radically altered; I took over the 10 am to 4 p.m. shift.
Bob Richter became the morning show host when John Struckell left to work at WFPG.
Station manager Howard Green, who’d liked my style and radio personality, asked me to take over the slot.
It also meant that the station could use me in producing its own commercials, working with traffic director, Alan Israel, who wrote the copy.
That meant I’d do trick voices in comic commercials.
Of course, the music would have to be livelier and less soothing than overnight’s.
I also had to come up with charming, brief chatter, sounding friendly, not serious, instead of more-laid back as the source of gentle companionship in the deep night.
Add some Stan Freberg and Andy Griffith comedy 45s.
I also found ways to do little comedy bits with my trick voices also using sound effect records.
I missed hearing jazz, though.
Oh, I had kept a few LPs I had solicited from record companies while at WFLN, but I wanted to share them with other people, not listen to them alone.
I proposed to Howard a two-hour evening show at 10 o’clock.
At no extra pay.
He agreed to let me have one on Tuesdays.
WOND didn’t have jazz records.
There were some LPs which were considered pop music, such as those featuring by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughn singing, or Stan Kenton, Les Brown and Billy May leading their orchestras in dance band arrangements.
Among them too was something by a kid a couple of years younger than I, a singer named Johnny Mathis.
Billed as “A New Sound in Popular Music” his debut was really a jazz record.
It had arrangements by Gil Evans, The Modern Jazz Quartet’s John Lewis and Teo Macero who’d worked with Charles Mingus and Miles Davis.
The bands featured Buck Clayton, Hank Jones, Art Farmer, Tony Scott, Phil Woods and more great artists.
What a range and what a talent Mathis had!
He could have been a great jazz singer.
But Columbia Records Mitch Miller has other plans for him.
Anyway, with my own minor collection of jazz LPs that wasn’t enough for a weekly show on a regular basis.
Since WOND already had an arrangement with two of our sponsors, the Pleasantville Music Shoppe and Ocean City Records, LPs were given to the station as partial payment for advertising.
So jazz LPS were added.
I selected them.
What a golden opportunity.
Some of which I kept; no one at the station cared.
I still have a few, collectors’ items, no doubt, now.
We d.j.s had another trade deal.
Each of us was allowed to find a gas station which would give us a free fill-up once a week in exchange for daily commercials which we’d read and produce every day during our shifts.
Mine were for Risso and Graham’s Sunoco Service Station on Ventnor Avenue across from Atlantic City High.
I thought I should have some theme music to start and end the jazz show, like many d.j.s.
A pensive, lyrical one called “Spencer’s Song” seemed perfect, not only because I was a Spencer but also the mood seemed right.
It featured one of my favorite trumpet players, Ruby Braff.
Braff has appeared on TV in a 1956 Alcoa Hour drama called The Magic Horn where he played the role of a legendary musician, Spencer Lee.
Another of my favorites, trombonist Vic Dickenson performed in it too.
He and Braff were together on some great Vanguard Records sessions around that time.
Trumpet player Jimmy McPartland was likewise in the cast.
I’d interviewed him at WFLN the previous year.
What better choice could there have been?
I called it “Just Jazz” and each program began with an ad-libbed intro, something like this.
“The little man with the battered hat stood outside in the rain falling gently on 52nd street that warm spring evening. He clutched a folded newspaper under one arm and was able to keep it dry while he pondered which club to go to. There were so many choices. All of them great. Great because so many great musicians were there. The paper had told him who. He loved them all. He loved their music. So where would he go? Into which club? Actually it didn’t matter, because wherever he went, he’d find what he came for. Jazz. Just jazz.”
Like that little man, I loved that music too.
As spring merged into summer, other things changed.
On the air.
Larry Carle and Bob Richter, who, in addition to being d.j.s, also sold station advertising, and started bringing in a lot of business.
Which meant that there had to be enough space on the air to squeeze in every possible spot announcement.
Which meant less talk about the music.
And less music.
You’d think that management would have just raised the rates instead of cramming in more and more advertising.
But the problem was, even though WOND was the highest rated station in the market, management was convinced that other stations could offer lower rates to grab those clients.
In July and August we often had so many commercials that we had to use radio library transcriptions which had been specially produced for radio station, featuring well-known performers’ tracks edited down to about two minutes each.
Or we’d start the music from a standard recording by cuing into the middle where, for example, there was an orchestra bridge between early and later vocal solos.
More than once, I’d say, after a slew of back-to-back commercials: “Now, here’s something special: Music!”
Nobody at the station minded.
But I kept wondering who would be listening to all that talk without much WONDerful music.
Probably the advertisers.
Or salesmen from other stations hoping to get leads.
By September of 1957 then I had been on the station for more than one year.
Longer than on WFLN and not facing replacement.
Well, when I talked to local people and mentioned being on WOND, they were often surprised, saying that they listened all the time but didn’t recognize my name.
“Larry Carle is on there, right?” was often a question.
What did he have that was so memorable?
On-air he was, I thought, rather bland and boring.
Not that I listened that often.
Why would any of us want to listen to the same commercials, the same kind of chatter, the same records?
Being away from the microphone was being away from work.
But Larry had a major advantage: longevity.
Repeating his name on the air for years.
In broadcasting, enduring at the same spot on the dial remains a rarity.
Meanwhile the jazz show was developing a following, including kids from Atlantic City High.
And Howard was always telling me not to “push” jazz on my other shows, so that if Bob featured Stan Kenton, it was fine.
If I did it, I was chastised.
Those were good years for jazz.
WNEW in New York was featuring a show with increasingly popular Al “Jazzbo” Collins who had even cut a few sides narrating Steve Allen’s Bop Fables.
And Allen often presented jazz musicians on The Tonight Show on NBC.
Moreover, on TV there had been not only The Magic Horn but, live, Duke Ellington’s jazz history fable A Drum is a Woman on The U. S. Steel Hour.
And Leonard Bernstein’s live, musician-illustrated lecture on Omnibus: “What is Jazz?”
Or on The Seven Lively Arts, on CBS, live performances in The Sound of Jazz with Pee Wee Russell, Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Rushing and my beloved Billie Holiday, sounding frail.
Not long thereafter, early in 1958, Billie cut an LP with a string orchestra in lush, slick arrangements by Ray Ellis, “Lady In Satin.”
No doubt an attempt at commercial success.
A bad match.
The other dj.s aired it.
“She can’t sing,” Bob Richter observed.
Right, in that instance.
She was on the downswing of her deteriorating health.
She died five months after she recorded it.
1956, 57, 58 were also good for live jazz.
Duke Ellington came with a small band sharing the bill with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln at The Cotton Club on the part of Kentucky Avenue that stretched far away from the Ocean.
A.C.’ s black ghetto.
Dizzy Gillespie came too.
And the summer of 57 the Hamids brought in a two-evening concert produced by Lionel Hampton featuring him, his big band, Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars plus Ella Fitzgerald.
They played on The Boardwalk at the Warner Theater.
That’s when I interviewed Duke, Dizzy, Louis, Ella and Hampton.
Duke: “The band is my instrument. When I write something today, I want to hear it tomorrow, I’m kind of impetuous that way.”
Dizzy: “I feel comedy.”
Louis (about performing in Europe) “ A note’s a note in any language.”
Louis’ All-Stars included Louis’ New Orleans contemporary, clarinetist Edmund Hall.
I was already an admirer of his playing, hearing his gutsy sound on sessions with Ruby, Vic and Buck Clayton.
While back stage to interview Louis, I saw distinguished–looking Hall, a thin, balding, solemn-looking man sitting solitary in a corner.
I wanted to tell him how much I loved his playing, but I had to talk with Louis first.
After my interview with Louis, Hall was nowhere in sight.
To this day I remain disappointed that I hadn’t talked to him.
My interviews were improving.
Of course, with Duke and Louis, how could they be bad?
Those natural showmen were always great, jolly, accessible talkers.
But Ella was shy and uncomfortable.
When asked about being a “jazz singer” she didn’t like the term.
But then, as Leonard Bernstein had asked “What is Jazz?” Duke often said there were only two kinds of music, “good music and bad music.”
Louis had said that jazz was whatever he performed.
But every question to Hampton about his own history found him turning around the answer to promote the concert, e.g “Why did you start playing the vibes?” Answer: “I just loved the sound. And I’m going to play them at the Warner Theater and I know everyone will just love the sound too.”
Unfortunately, having been a big fan of Ella and Hamp, I got turned off by their lack of responsiveness.
It took me a few years to realize that they were not obligated to speak well, or to even talk at all.
They were musicians whose great performances should have spoken for themselves.
Just because Duke and Louis were so wonderfully gregarious with me, a local d.j. in his mid-20s, didn’t mean everyone else had to be like them.
In time it became clear: there were only two kinds of interviews, good interviews and bad interviews.
Sometimes I was at fault.
Sometimes the musician couldn’t respond well, or really didn’t want to be bothered.
Incidentally, two days after that evening at the Warner Theater, the Atlantic City Press reported that a man had walked onto the stage at the second night’s concert and punched Ella in the mouth.
That’s all I remember of the story.
However, in an August 1957 recording session, Louis, performing with Ellla in “Stompin’ at the Savoy” ad-libs “He musta been lookin’ at Lionel Hampton when we was in Atlantic City. Oh, we won’t talk about that.”
In my second December at WOND, letters reeking of cheap perfume started coming to me.
They were written in a florid hand where someone named Dorothy referred to how happy she had been when we had been together, calling me “darling” or “sweetheart” and saying that she couldn’t wait to see me again.
I had no idea who this person was.
And there was no return address on the letters.
Amused and surprised, I showed the letters to Vene.
She got really upset, especially since there were some problems already in our marriage.
Although it was probably not a good choice to show her the letters but it would have been worse and suspicious if they had remained secret.
Then, around Christmas, a big package from Dorothy came to me at the station, full of presents wrapped in thin, crinkly paper smelling of the same strong perfume.
They were not only for me but for Bob and Larry.
For me: tacky-looking pajamas, a small bottle of Aqua Velva after-shave lotion and a small package of flimsy handkerchiefs.
For Bob: a pair of floppy soft bedroom slippers.
For Larry, a much too small V-neck cotton sweater.
Clearly Dorothy didn’t know Larry was a large guy.
Since Bob already knew about the letters and had been amused, he thought that this was even funnier.
There was an actual address this time with a full name on the package.
I wanted to return everything, but Bob, laughing, said he was going to keep the slippers.
I made a package to send back my gifts.
I’d do so in person so I could see where Dorothy lived, maybe find a way to talk some sense to her.
She turned out to be a resident of a Ventnor mental health home.
When I arrived, a nurse in charge thanked me for bringing back the presents and said she’d talk to Dorothy to see if she could be convinced to stop sending the letters.
It should have been funny to think that such a devoted fan was a mental patient, but I found it sad.
And the letters did stop.
Vene and I were still very interested in theatre, of course, and got roles in a community theatre production of Francis Swann’s Out of The Frying Pan.
By then I had grown a small beard.
Since I’d always had a baby face.
I felt it made me look more mature.
Thus, a newspaper review of the show described me as playing “the bearded George, ” as if that were a definition of character.
But beards were so uncommon that that must have seemed worth remarking.
The play is set in New York City, the place both of us yearned to live in.
We went there a few times to take in some plays, driving in our brand new 1957 Fiat 1100.
We traded in the old oil-leaking Chrysler, getting a credit of $75 (about $620 in 2012).
Not that I knew that much yet about driving, but I hadn’t had any accidents since moving to Atlantic City and, after all, the car had a warranty and was in perfect condition when we bought it.
These trips got us talking to each other about how to move to New York and began setting aside a little money to do that, in case we went through with the fantasy.
We were also big fans of the Cape May Playhouse, where professional actors from New York appeared in plays during the summer.
The Playhouse sometimes advertised on WOND and was trying to get the most out of publicizing a production of Tennessee Williams’ sensational Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The Playhouse had brought in Broadway star Bern Hoffman to play Big Daddy.
They had asked the station to send someone to interview him.
That turned out to be me, the sometimes actor.
Hoffman had had an important role in the original Guys and Dolls and had played Earthquake McGoon in L’il Abner.
I was impressed.
Conversing after recording the interview, I told him that I’d been an actor in college and was thinking about an acting career in New York.
Did he have any advice?
“Yes,” he said, “don’t go. You’ll be very disappointed and discouraged about how hard it is. And, even if you get a little work now and then, you’ll have to find some other way to pay your bills, some kind of job you won’t like.”
I was crestfallen.
“But,” he added, “if you have the passion, if you can’t help yourself and you want to go no matter what, no matter what I or other actors tell you, then no one can stop you. But just remember that you were given some friendly advice. I wish I could encourage you. But I can’t.”
Somehow, I thought, if we go to New York, maybe I can find some part-time work at a radio station and combine that with being an actor.
Considering the competition, you’d think so.
Just in case, I recorded some of my WOND performances and sent a few tapes to New York stations WNEW and WMGM, places about as big as you can get in the kind of pop music shows I’d been hosting.
Mark Olds at WNEW wrote back to me that he liked what he heard and invited me to drop in on him sometime when I was in New York.
It wasn’t a job offer, of course, but it was encouraging.
Then, after I finally graduated from Temple in August 1958, Vene and I decided to try our luck in New York.
And soon I’d get a few small roles.
And soon I’d also get on the air.
From the late 1950's through the end of 1966, WOND was more of a Top 40-leaning radio station, being full-blown Top 40 in the tourist months.
Beginning in about 1963, WOND adapted the moniker "All American Radio".
The lineup was Bob Weems, Mike Elliott, Tom Lamaine, "Cousin" Bruce Roberts, Pinky Kravitz with "Pinky's Corner" and Red Carr doing overnights.
Tom Williams later replaced Roberts.
A couple of DJ's during this time included Gene Packard (who would later be on WRDR in Egg Harbor City) and Al Owen (who later became head of the Atlantic City Chamber Of Commerce, as did Sales Manager, Walt Murphy in the 1960's).
In 1966, Jessica Savitch worked at WOND - and later became an NBC News anchor.
In the late 1960's, Bob Weems did AM drive, Tom Lamaine middays, Pat McCall handled PM drive and Pinky Kravitz hosted a nightly talk show, under station manager Mike Elliott.
In early 1967, when Merv Griffin purchased WMID, WOND retreated and chanaged format to MOR, with most of the same staff remaining, except for Joel Carson, who went to co-owned WENY in Elmira NY.
As MOR became Pop Adult, that was WOND's market position into the 1970's.
The station evolved into Oldies in the mid-1970's, then into Talk in the 1980's, cultimating in the hiring of Don Williams from crosstown rival WMID for mornings.
(Thanks to Fred Albrecht, Donna & Rory Carle, Kevin Fennessy, Pat McCall, Ed Perkins & Gordon Spencer for some of this information)
WHTG - 1410 AM, Eatontown
WHTG first signed on November 1, 1957.
The station was owned by Harold & Theo Gade and in its early years, the station's studio was located in the Gade's home.
The format consisted of easy listening music and community announcements and at 4:55 each afternoon, there would be a newscast for personnel and dependents at Fort Monmouth.
In the 1960's, WHTG added an FM station.
Dave Herman (who is best known for his stints on WMMR in Philadelphia, and later, WNEW-FM in New York) was the morning host on WHTG in the mid 1960's.
When Herman left in the late 1960's, he was replaced by Bob Jenkins (who was also a PR Director at Monmouth College at the time.)
Dave Kelber took over for Bob in 1973, and also assumed the PD position for the station, until he left in 1975 and was replaced by John McLearan.
Dave is currently the morning host at WRNJ, 1510, in Hackettstown.
WHTG's basic format continued until 1984 when the format shifted to Adult Contemporary.
In 1985, WHTG was transferred over to Harold & Theo Gade's daughter, Faye.
In 1989, the format switched to Adult Standards.
By the mid 1990's, WHTG was featuring a Soft AC format.
In 1999, WHTG started to simulcast the alternative rock programming from its FM station.
In 2000, both WHTG AM & FM were sold to Press Communications.
As a result, 1410 debuted an Oldies format as "Great Gold 1410" in late 2000.
In 2002, WHTG-AM was the home of the Lakewood BlueClaws baseball game broadcasts, however due to the station's poor signal at night, the games were moved in 2003 to WOBM-AM.
(Thanks to Dave Kelber for some of this information)
WHPP - 1420 AM, Englewood Cliffs
Originally licensed to the Bronx, WHPP signed on February 11, 1927 on 1450 AM.
Owned by the Bronx Broadcasting Co., the station was built and managed by William Elster, a 22 year old insurance agent and radio buff, and his friend Herman Rubin, who was only 16 when the station went on the air.
The pair modified a 10-watt Navy transmitter designed originally for Morse code transmission and built a small studio in Rubin's house at 953 Southern Blvd. in the Bronx.
The station had received its license during the un-regulated period of the mid-1920's amd signed on less than 2 weeks before the Radio Act Of 1927, which required ALL stations to have licenses in order to broadcast.
In September 1927, studios moved to 150 Delancey St. in Manhattan.
In January 1928, the official city of license was changed to Englewood Cliffs, with the transmitter moving there in the fall of that year.
On November 11, 1928, WHPP moved to 1420 AM and shared time with New York stations WMRJ and WLBH.
However, Elster and Rubin couldn't keep up with the technical and programming demands, so they let the station's license expire in April 1929, with the station's last day on the air being April 30.
On November 6, 1929, the FRC (Federal Radio Commission) denied a request to transfer ownership to James A. Lodice and the station disappeared for good.
WNSW - 1430 AM, Newark
The origins of this station date back to November 21, 1926 when WCGU signed on under owner Charles G. Unger in Lakewood.
It operated unauthorized on 855 and 865 AM.
On May 21, 1927, the station was transferred over to Brooklyn NY and moved to 1300 AM.
The studio was located at 1587 Broadway in Manhattan's Theatre District and the transmitter was 75 feet from the ocean at Sea Gate, Brooklyn.
Later in 1927, WCGU shared time with New York station WKBQ on 1370 AM.
In 1928, WCGU switched frequencies again to 1400 AM, sharing time with New York stations WBBC, WSGH and WFRL.
In August of that year, WCGU moved their studios to the Half-Moon Hotel at Coney Island.
The time-sharing arrangement with the other stations offended Unger, however in 1929, WCGU started to operate jointly with WBBC, with the slogan "Brooklyn's Own Stations," but the arrangement did not survive.
In the spring of 1932, WCGU moved its studios and offices to the Fulton-Flatbush Building in downtown Brooklyn.
In April 1933, the station was sold to Rabbi Aaron Kronenberg and changed calls to WARD.
WARD featured Yiddish and Jewish programming.
In 1935, WARD almost lost their license when the FCC tried to clear up the time-sharing arrangement and establish a single Brooklyn station.
All four stations went to court and in March 1941, all agreed to merge into the United Broadcasting Corp., with WARD as the leading station.
On May 1, 1941, calls were changed to WBYN and moved to 1430 AM.
Studios were built in the Fox Theatre Building at 1 Nevins St. in downtown Brooklyn and Westinghouse Broadcasting executive Griff Thompson was hired as manager.
Another studio was also located in Manhattan at 132 W. 43rd St.
By 1944, the other 3 stations had divested themselves of the venture and the company changed to WBYN-Brooklyn Inc.
By this time, WBYN had created a prototype of all-news radio by programming continuous 60 second parcels of news, sports and other features from noon to 6pm.
In 1945, the FCC saw a shortage of stations in northern New Jersey and decided to put WBYN up for sale.
At the end of 1946, the Newark Sunday Call bought WBYN for $200,000.
However, before the station changed hands, the Newark Sunday Call was absorbed into the Newark Evening News.
The station's original calls were to be WNJW.
On November 20, 1947, 1430 became WNJR, owned by North Jersey Radio Inc.
The WNJR studios were located at 91 Halsey St. in Newark.
The gala inaugural broadcast featured drama by actors from the Paper Mill Playhouse, scenes from Rigoletto by the Griffith Music Foundation (who later had their own station, WVNJ) and the music of the WNJR Orchestra, conducted by Leo Freudenberg.
Some early personalities on WNJR included news director Tom Costigan, who was once the narrator of the Fox Movietone Newsreels, announcer Alois Havrilla, who previously did voice-over work for the Paul Whiteman and Jack Benny radio programs.
Havrilla was a news commentator on WNJR and also hosted a music program, "Alois Havrilla Presents."
And, Carl Ide did morning drive, played jazz in the afternoons on his "S.S. Cool" program and did a transcribed hour of music and poetry in the evenings.
WNJR's early programming also featured some western swing and Latin dance music.
By the early 1950's, WNJR's format evolved into a mix of jazz, jive and R&B.
Alan Freed's rock-n-roll show was first heard in the New York area on WNJR via syndication from Cleveland's WJW.
By the 1950's, WNJR also featured some African-American broadcasters including George Hudson & Ramon Bruce.
Other personalities included Hal Wade (who did overnights, replaced in 1953 by Danny "The Cat Man" Stiles), Charlie Green, Pat Connell, Herman Amis, Enoch Gregory and Hal Jackson.
In the fall of 1953, WNJR was sold to Rollins Broadcasting and switched to an exclusive R&B format.
In Augsut 1967, the staff at WNJR went on strike over discrimination issues, putting the station off the air for about 6 hours.
Vintage pictures of some of WNJR's on-air personalities, circa 1968, are available by clicking here.
Rollins Broadcasting was re-organized as Continental Broadcasting in November 1968, but the FCC refused to renew its license citing fraudulent advertising, falsified logs and other violations.
WNJR continued to operate during the appeals process, but on July 17, 1971 went off the air.
On July 29, 1971, WNJR returned to the air, operated temporarily by the City of Newark, under the name "Radio Newark."
In December 1971, the interim license was transferred over to a group of station staff and applicants known as the WNJR Radio Company.
In 1972, WNJR became the New York affiliate of the Mutual Black Network (later named the Sheridan Broadcasting Newtork) and joined the National Black Network in 1973.
In May 1975, the WNJR Radio Company license was cancelled and a new group of 4 applicants took over as 1430 Associates.
In 1976, one of the applicants, Sound Radio Inc., was awarded the license.
However, the FCC reversed that decision in June 1978 when WNJR was invloved in another fraudulent advertising scheme.
All of WNJR's legal troubles came to an end in 1982 when Sound Radio received permanent authorization to run the station.
By this time, the station's format was a mix of gospel and urban contemporary programming.
From 1983 to 1986, the mornings featured big band music.
In 1986, Sound Radio erected a new transmitter for WNJR in the hopes of increased coverage and audio, but by 1989, the company fell into bankrupcy.
Some personalties at this time included Thurman Miller, Carlos DeJesus, Steel Colony, Henry Singleton, Valerie Steele, Jerry "Love" Brown and Jeff McCall.
In 1989, Spanish American Radio Communications Inc. bought Sound Radio for $4.1 million, but ultimately couldn't meet its payments.
In 1991, the station was sold for $6.75 million to Douglas Broadcasting, a West Coast black-owned corporation.
WNJR's format shifted to brokered ethnic programming.
Independant program producer Randy Parker hosted "The Weekend Traffic Jam" on Friday & Saturday evenings during this time.
By the late 1990's, Arthur Liu's MultiCultural Broadcasting had purchased the station and initially kept the ethnic programming.
However on June 8, 1999, WNJR's calls were changed to WNSW and featured an Adult Standards format as "Sunny 1430," in response to the demise of the format on New York station WQEW.
Because of the station's limited coverage area, the Adult Standards were not a big hit and by mid-2000, the format was eventually eliminated as more ethnic programming began to fill in the hours.
The format officially ended on February 28, 2001 with the playing of Frank Sinatra's, "Softly As I Leave You."
In August 2014, MultiCultural sold WNSW to Starboard Media, which distributes the "Relevant Radio" Christian format via satellite, for $10.1 million.
(Thanks to Thurman Miller for some of this information)
(Thanks to Randy Parker of internet station WNJR-Radio.com, for some of this information)
WMVB - 1440 AM, Millville
1440 signed on in December 1953 as WMLV, owned by John Norris d/b/a Union Lake Broadcaters.
Early shows were block programmed - a typical weekday schedule included the following...
6a-7a - Country music
7a-9:30a - popular hits as "Morning Millville", later changed to "Sunrise Serenade" hosted by Jack Lawyer
9:35a-10a - a religious show (from Greenville SC)
10-12n - easy listening music
12n-12:35p - news and public affairs programming
12:35p-1p - a "Top 30" show, playing 6 songs from the list each day
1p-4:30p - "Off The Record" with Alan Field
4:35p-4:45p - country music with Paul Radzevich
5p-5:30p - the "Chevrolet Musical Scoreboard" - Top 30 songs and sports news
6p-7p - country music
7p-8p - "Sunset Serenade" featuring classical music
Weekends included the "1440 Club" Saturdays 10a-12n with the full Top 30 and "Mostly Music" on Sunday afternoons with easy listening instrumentals.
The previously mentioned Alan Field joined the station in September 1956 and left in October 1957.
During his time there, Jack Lawyer did mornings, followed by Karl Scheying (who was also the GM) during mid-days with his wife, Valerie, handling traffic duties, and Alan did afternoons until 5pm.
The station went off the air in late 1957 as ownership was transferred over to Fred Wood, GM of 1360 in Vineland.
It returned to the air in January 1958 as WMVB and featured a strict easy listening format, lots of commercials and some agriculture-type programs.
They also featured world news on the half-hour and local news at the top of the hour.
By the late 1960's, WMVB featured a Top 40 format.
Calls were later changed to WREY in the 1980's and featured a Spanish format for many years.
In December 1998, Spanish was dropped in favor of a news/talk format.
Calls changed back to WMVB on January 22, 1999.
By early 2000, ownership was transferred to Quinn Broadcasting, and the format now features a mix of local talk and Soft AC music.
In early 2004, WMVB began a simulcast with WSNJ, 1240 AM, Bridgeton.
As of this writing (November 2013), WMVB is currently doing a Regional Mexican format as "La Brava."
If anyone has additional info on WMVB, please e-mail me at the address above.
(Thanks to Alan Field & Earl Mellor for some of this information)
(Thanks to Backy Vandermast for a WMVB logo)
WPGG - 1450 AM, Atlantic City
Atlantic City's WFPG first signed on in 1940.
In the mid 1950's, WFPG was a mix of MOR and Adult Standards.
Bob Richter (later, Bob Weems) did mornings, Ed Davis handled mid-days, Jack Lawyer had afternoons and the evenings/overnights were done by Jim Rodio (who later went on to WCMC and then later, started up WRDR in Egg Harbor City).
Ed Davis also had a nostalgia show on Saturday mornings, using as his theme song, Sammy Kaye's "Those Old Phonograph Records."
John Struckell was a long-time station manager at WFPG, and actually died while working on the transmitter in the summer of 1971.
For a period of time, 1450 had the WIIN calls, before switching back to WFPG on January 4, 1988.
Around the late 1980's/early 1990's, WFPG featured an easy listening format.
In recent times, WFPG has featured a local/syndicated talk format.
In 1999, WFPG picked up the satellite feed of the fledging Comedy World Radio Network, which featured talk and comedy programming.
After the network folded, WFPG resorted to simulcasting its FM sister station, while keeping local personality Harry Hurley on during morning drive.
In November 2001, WFPG began a brokered format, with Hurley continuing in the morning, Spanish during the day and the FM simulcast continuing during times when there was no brokered programming.
On March 11, 2002, calls were changed to WKXW, and on March 15 began to carry the programming from "NJ 101.5".
On February 1, 2003, 1450 dropped the NJ 101.5 simulcast (and moved it over to WKOE 106.3 in Ocean City).
In it's place, 1450 debuted a sports format as "ESPN Radio 1450", once again featuring Harry Hurley in morning drive.
On June 23, 2006, 1450 changed calls to WENJ.
In June 2009, 1450 switched to "ESPN Deportes", the Spanish feed of ESPN's programming, after owner Millennium switched 97.3 to WENJ-FM.
In January 2011, 1450 began to simulcast 97.3.
On October 22, 2012, 1450 became a talk station as "WPG Talk Radio 1450", using calls of WPGG.
The actual 3-letter call of "WPG" dates back to the 1920's & 1930's as it was used on 1100 AM in Atlantic City.
(Thanks to Fred Albrecht, Charles Frodsham & Mike Regensburger for some of this information)
(Thanks to Lance Venta for digging up an old WFPG logo)
WBMS - 1450 AM, Fort Lee
WBMS signed on October 20, 1926 as a community station, founded in North Bergen by George Showerer and R.C. Schmidt.
This station had the unfortunate circumstance of having to share time with a bunch of stations throughout its short history.
When WBMS first signed on, it shared time with New York station WARS.
In June 1927, after initally being told to move to 1120, it moved to 1500 AM and shared time with 3 New York stations: WWRL, WBKN and WIBI.
In 1928, WBMS moved to 1450 AM and shared time with 3 other NJ stations: WNJ in Newark, WKBO in Jersey City (see below), WIBS in Elizabeth and New York station WSDA.
In 1929, after moving from North Bergen to Union City to Hackensack, WBMS settled in Fort Lee.
Also, in 1929, New York station WHOM had taken over WNJ and WKBO.
By 1933, WBMS was absorbed into WHOM.
WKBO - 1450 AM, Jersey City
WKBO, owned by the Camith Corp. of Jersey City, went on the air in 1926, but shifted frequency 4 times before finally settling on 1410 AM in April 1927, sharing time with New York stations WFRL, WBNY and WKBQ.
WKBO's format included broadcasting church services and police bulletins.
In May 1927, WKBO moved to 1370 AM and later 1450, sharing time with Elizabeth station WIBS, Fort Lee station WBMS (see above) and Newark station WNJ.
By the summer of 1931, it was reported that WKBO's service and programming schedule were "inconsistant and clearly inferior" to its other shared-time stations and was "inadequately financed and render[ed] a comparatively poor program service."
As a result, WKBO was shut down and its license deleted in October 1931.
WCTC - 1450 AM, New Brunswick
WCTC signed on December 12, 1946, owned by Chanticleer Broadcasting.
Even with its low power, the station became a community favorite in Middlesex and Somerset counties.
Temporary studios were located in the USO Building on New St., and then a few weeks later, the station moved to the top floors of the People's National Bank building.
The original owner was James L. Howe with backing from Rutgers Chevrolet, a New Brunswick auto dealer.
Programming in its early years depended mainly on shows syndicated through "electrical transcription", but there was also a strong emphasis on local news and community service.
WCTC's coverage of Rutger's University football and basketball began during its second year on the air.
One of its noteworthy air personalites was talk show host Bruce Williams, who eventually got his own time slot from 11p-2a, and kept after GM Tony Marano for over a year to get it.
Bruce later moved on to the NBC network.
Tony Marano joined the station from the very beginning, orginally as a part-time newsman, and remained at the station for 46 years (the last 25 of them as General Manager; along with sister station WMGQ), until his retirement.
From 1959 to 1981, Tony was also the voice of Rutgers football and basketball, and was later inducted into the New Jersey Broadcasters Hall Of Fame.
Other noted WCTC alumni over the years included newsmen Herb Kaplow, Dave Marash and Harvey Hauptman.
Joseph Dembo, who went on to become manager at WCBS, gained his early experience at WCTC.
And, WMGM announcer Dean Hunter brought his New York experience to WCTC, becoming the PD in 1976.
In 1957, Greater Media bought WCTC and in 1978, moved their studio to its current location at 73 Veronica Ave. in Somerset (teamed with WMGQ).
Bill Emerson became the morning man and announcer Mike Jarmus joined the staff in the 1960's and remained a familiar voice on the station for over 20 years.
Jack Ellery started at WCTC in 1962 and was primarily in morning drive for over 30 years.
Jay Meyers was the operations manager during the early 1980's, and then went on to more prominent roles working for radio companies, such as Jacor and Clear Channel.
Jon Gurovitch joined the station in 1981, and replaced Tony as the voice of Rutgers sports for nearly 10 years.
He would later move on to Philadelphia to be the voice of the 76'ers, and an executive of Comcast SportsNet.
WCTC had featured a mix of local and syndicated talk programming over the years.
On July 2, 2008, WCTC debuted a "Good Time Oldies" format.
On February 28, 2011, WCTC switched back to a Talk format.
(Thanks to Dick Dinorfio & Phil Galasso for some of this information)
WNJ - 1450 AM, Newark
This station originally went on the air as WRAZ in June 1923, located at 1290 AM.
It was owned by former naval radio operator Herman Lubinsky, who established the Radio Shop of Newark at 58 Market St., for the home of WRAZ.
In April 1924, calls were changed to WCBX.
Then, on October 15, 1924, Lubinsky requested the calls WNJ, which he said stood for "Wireless New Jersey," and received his third set of call letters in 16 months.
WNJ was originally located in the attic of Lubinsky's home at 89 Lehigh Ave.
A generator was installed in a dormer and the transmission tower took up the entire backyard.
In 1925, Lubinsky built a studio in the Paradise Ballroom in Newark and operated a shortwave transmitter for local remote pick-ups.
In July of that year, WNJ moved to 1190 AM and shared time briefly with New York station WGCP.
In July 1926, WNJ broadcasted "unauthroized" on 850 and 860 AM.
In April 1927, the station moved to 1070 AM and shared time with WGCP and Newark station WDWM.
Later that year, WNJ moved to 1120 AM and finally in November 1928, the station settled on 1450 AM, sharing time with Fort Lee station WBMS (see above), Elizabeth staation WIBS and Jersey City station WKBO (see above).
WNJ, "The Voice Of Newark", presented programming in Polish and Lithuanian and featured some of the earliest Italian programming in the New York metropolitan area, featuring Ben D'Avella.
Sam Barnowitz, the chief announcer and program director, produced dramatic hours featuring the WNJ Players.
In 1928, WNJ established a studio in the Hotel St. Francis in Newark.
In 1929, Lubinsky reorganized as the Radio Investment Co.
In November 1932, the FRC (Federal Radio Commission) denied WNJ's request for license renewal.
Lubinsky fought the action in the federal courts, but lost and was ordered off the air on March 31, 1933.
The radio equipment remained in his attic until the family moved in the 1950's.
WIFI - 1460 AM, Florence
1460 signed on in 1985 as WRLB (calls were assigned on June 7, 1984.); it was originally allocated to Florence on December 3, 1982.
On February 1, 1992, calls were changed to WIFI.
Around 1995, WIFI was featuring an oldies format as "1460 Star Sounds Gold".
"Star Sounds Gold", which was the idea of Mike Venditti, also featured the "Philly Sound" and "Street Corner Harmony" to fill the void of 1540 WPGR in Philadelphia.
Volunteer DJ's included PGR jocks Jimmy "The Cannonball" Parsons, "Frankie C" Costellano and Jimmy Dee, as well as Venditti and his wife, Joan.
The station had featured a Contemporary Christian format in recent years.
In October 2008, WIFI started a "Renaissance Radio"-type format, brokering time for anyone who wants to do a radio show.
In early 2013, WIFI switched to a religious format as "Victory Radio."
If anyone has additional info on this station, please e-mail me at the address above.
(Thanks to Joan (Venditti) Richardson, Steve Taylor & Mark Yaple for some of this information)
WJJZ - 1460 AM, Mt. Holly
WJJZ started around 1962/1963 by John J. Farina (originally from Newark) d/b/a Mt. Holly-Burlington Broadcasting Company Inc.
The board of directors/stockholders for the company included Dr. Henry H. Bisbee, a local doctor and resident Burlington County historian.
Studios were located at the Washington House, a former hotel, on High St. and Rancocas Rd. in Mt. Holly.
There was an office/sales area and 2 relatively small studios: the main on-air studio and a production studio of similar size, which was also air-capable if needed.
The transmitters were located on the east end of Burlington Island, an island in the middle of the Delaware River off the coast of Burlington City.
Studio programming was fed via phone line to the transmitter site on the island.
Photos of the transmitter site, taken in 1964, are available by clicking here.
The original format of WJJZ was a mix of easy listening and big band music.
Unfortunately, the station had persistant financial difficulties and was operated on a shoe-string budget.
In 1965, the station was shut down by the FCC.
Poor financial decisions left the station in receivership and many businesses, including two banks, were left unpaid.
On July 15, 1967, WJJZ was ressurrected when a new company, West Jersey Broadcasting, was formed by Burlington businessman Sam Michel, who owned a local sheet metal business (Columbus Metals in Roebling NJ), and several other businessmen in the area.
A new broadcasting facility was built directly behind the original location at the Washington House Hotel.
It consisted of 3 studios: one which was the main on-air control room, one to the left of the main studio - which was the newsroom, and one to the right - which was the production studio, with all 3 being on-air equipped.
There was also a reception area and a small office for the station manager (Don Kirby) and program director.
Even under new ownership, the station was operated on a shoe-string budget, however the station's format was now MOR with a mix of Top 40.
One of the personalities on WJJZ at this time was Pat McCall, who later went on to work as the host of "Sinatra & Company", the forerunner of Sid Mark's Sinatra show, on WMMR.
The Chief Engineer at the time was Mark Olkowski, who is currently Director of Radio Engineering at CBS Radio.
In the 1970's, Kirby left and was replaced by a local political figure, who had no prior experience in broadcasting.
WJJZ then instituted a country format and also featured local high school football games and a swap-and-shop call-in show.
The station signed off permanently on October 31, 1982 at sundown.
The owners were found unfit for license for "lack of candor to the commission" during hearings concerning bribes paid to local officials to gain a cable TV franchise.
The 1460 frequency was later revived in 1985 as WRLB (see WIFI profile above).
Some airchecks from WJJZ can be heard here.
(Thanks to Bill Cain, Mark Fletcher, John Hendricks, Pat McCall and Tom Wahl for some of this information)
WBSS - 1490 AM, Pleasantville
This station dates back to 1940 when it was WBAB, owned by the Press Union Newspapers.
WBAB signed off in 1949.
On April 8, 1955, 1490 reamerged as WLDB, owned by Leroy and Dorothy Bremmer.
Studios were located firstly in The Senator Hotel, then the Penn Atlantic Hotel, ultimately locating the studios at the base of the tower on Absecon Blvd. (where the pair also resided.)
WLDB basically played ballroom dance music and carried programming from the Mutual Broadcasting System during part of the day, with Leroy Bremer being the primary announcer.
Around the late 1960's/early 1970's, WLDB featured a country format during the week and religious programs on Sundays.
A vintage WLDB program schedule brochure from 1969 can be seen by clicking here.
Leroy Bremmer died on June 14, 1971, and his aged widow, continued to operate WLDB without a chief operator, and signed FCC coorespondence for her deceased partner.
When this was discovered by the FCC in 1974, WLDB was ordered off the air.
Taking her case to Washington, Mrs. Bremmer pleaded to return WLDB to the air, so that she could sell the station.
The commission agreed, and subjected WLDB to their "distress sale" program, which provided that she must sell the station for a price below the fair market value to a minority concern.
A group of black Atlantic City businessmen purchased WLDB in late 1974, launching the station as WUSS, which at the time became the first and only black owned and operated radio station in New Jersey.
The station then became known for its Urban music format that it featured into the mid 1990's.
On May 16, 1997, after being dark for a few months, the station reamerged as WGYM with a sports format, featuring programming from ESPN.
On March 26, 2001, the sports programming and calls moved to 1580 in Hammonton and 1490 regained the WUSS calls and featured a Black Gospel format as "Rejoice 1490."
On September 16, 2002, WUSS switched to an R&B Oldies format as "Solid Gold 1490."
In December 2003, WUSS began relaying the oldies format from co-owned WTKU, 98.3, Ocean City.
In February 2004, WUSS dropped the WTKU simulcast and become "1490 The Game", with a Sports format via Fox Sports Radio.
In March 2005, 1490 once again began simulcasting co-owned WTKU.
On February 20, 2006, 1490 (and co-owned 98.3) switched call letters.
On March 8, 2006, due to an FCC error, 98.3 was given back it's WTKU(FM) calls.
On May 24, 2007, calls changed to WTAA - and in June 2007, the FM simulcast was dropped in favor of becoming an affiliate of conservative talk network, Air America Radio.
On September 19, 2008, 1490 switched to a syndicated Regional Mexican format as "La Gran D."
On March 1, 2009, 1490 began simulcasting the "La Fiesta" Spanish Tropical format from WBON, 98.5 in Westhampton (Long Island) NY.
On January 11, 2010, 1490 changed calls to WBSS.
On August 12, 2011, 1490 began to simulcast the programming from WOND (see above).
In December 2011, 1490 began a simulcast with WIP-FM, 94.1, Philadelphia.
In February 2013, after being off the air because of Hurricane Sandy, 1490 came back on the air, once again simulcasting WOND.
In April 2013, the simulcast switched to co-owned WTKU.
(Thanks to Fred Albrecht, Kevin Fennessy, John Hendricks & Alan Hirsch for some of this information)
(Thanks to Tom McNally and McNally.cc for the old WBAB and WLDB logos)
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