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Back Then…The Unofficial History Of NJ 101.5

Joe Cutter
Matthew White, Townsquare Media

This is another installment in my ongoing blog, “back then,” an effort to share with the many followers of New Jersey 101.5, little stories from this side of the signal. As I said before, you will not find any scandal in any of these little stories from our past. No trip to the darkside.

When we last looked in on our hero, (me), he had just taken a fulltime news job, offered by Jim Gearhart, to work here in 1989. Back then, Jim was the program director for our then-sister station, WBUD-AM.

Shortly after I started here, the ‘buzz’ began. If you have never been in radio, let me tell you about the ‘buzz.’ It’s the rumor mill about something that is coming, and it is usually change. In this case, the ‘buzz’ involved the sale of both WKXW-FM and WBUD_AM. In the fall of ’89, we were owned by Fidelity Communications. I think I was working here a mere three months before the good folks at the Asbury Park Press and my friend Bob McAllan, decided to buy both stattions.

Back then, with the ‘buzz’ in the air of the building, everyone was paranoid. New ownership and management. What changes would they make? Format? People? I remember one guy in particular back then and I cannot recall his name now. . Anyway, this guy did not have a lot of responsibility or work to do, and he spent a lot of time walking around the building with two pieces of paper in his hand, trying to look busy. Paranoia! Hey, if I am not busy, they do not need me. And if they do not need me.

So then comes the sale, and WKXW and WBUD are now owned by the Asbury Park Press, Press Broadcasting. And now we have a new General Manager, a big tough, take-no-bull guy named John Dziuba. So I am thinking to myself, “oh boy!…I just landed here”. I want to stay. Please, Lord, let me do and say the right thing. You may remember that line from the Broadway show, “A Chorus Line”…”I need this job”? That was me, back then.

One evening not long after the sale, I am working in a studio, running the board for a live sports feed on WBUD and doing the annoucing in between. And what to my wondering eyes should appear in my little room, but the Press Broadcasting chief himself, Bob McAllan, resplendent in his very white shirt and tie. Apparently, Bob had been listening to my air work. Anyway, I am nervous, I am trying to stay with the new owners, and here is the kingpin, the head honcho, Bob, in the stuudio. McAllan stood there for what seemed like forever, staring at me. When he finally spoke, all he said was, “I have been listening to you on the air. You sound really good.” Breathing commences once more. Heart starts to beat again. “Oh God, I need this job…”

Stay tuned. There’s a lot more ahead.

Read all of the editions of “Back Then” anytime.

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