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Back Then…The Unofficial History of New Jersey 101.5

In 1993, we are a radio station with a cause – New Jersey – and we watched as our popularity grew by leaps and bounds because the administration of Governor Jim Florio proposed a whole raft of taxes to balance the state budget. You started screaming about it, and we were your number one outlet for the tax hike resentment, back then.

Joe Cutter
Joe Cutter in the Newsbooth at NJ 101.5 (Matthew White, Townsquare Media)

Along comes Christine Todd Whitman. Whitman had been a faithful and ambitious Republican who came from a well-connected Republican family, having worked in one of the offices of the Nixon administration.

In 1990, Whitman took a shot at trying to unseat the enormously popular incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Bradley. Bradley had starred as a college and pro basketball player and was generally considered one of New Jersey’s favorite sons back then. Whitman challenged him for his Senate seat and with no support or money from National Republicans, came very close to unseating Bradley. Her party began to take notice, and so did our fledgling ‘all Jersey all the time’ radio station.

After her defeat, we brought Whitman in a few times a week back then, to do a show for a few hours. She talked and took phone calls just like a talk host. It kept her name and personality in the public consciousness. Whitman and I had quite a few little conversations back then because I served as the news anchor who worked doing newscasts during her little shows.

When 1993 rolled around, the Republican party and Christie Whitman both felt she was ready to take on Jim Florio. She ran and beat Florio out of a second term as Governor. Personally, I found Governor Florio to be very fair with the press and with me in particular. Even when we were pillaging him, he still maintained his cool. Sometime after the election, Florio talked to the New York Times about what had transpired during his four year term and how his political fortunes had soured back then. He said that part of the blame for his loss in the reelection had to do with “that damn radio station.”

Florio did not name us by name, but everyone knew he was talking about New Jersey 101.5.

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