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Back Then…The Unofficial History Of New Jersey 101.5

101.5 Newsroom 1991
New Jersey 101.5’s Newsroom, September, 1991. From left, back: Alan Kasper, Bob Dowd, John Mc Cullough and yours truly (Joe Cutter, Townsquare Media NJ)

This is an ongoing blog on the history of New Jersey 101.5 with me, Joe Cutter, a guy who has been here from the very start.

And as a news anchor/reporter, I have always been part of the support staff. Not a major player…not a star. But I have been right there, holding the coats of the Gearharts, and the John and Kens and the Jersey Guys for more than 22 years.

We left off last time with Press Broadcasting having just taken over. No one in the building knew what was coming next.

Once Bob McAllan, John Dziuba and the management got settled in, they started bringing in people who would mark our future and create radio history in New Jersey. Sometime early in 1990, the idea was hatched to put together a format that would have as its center and focus the great Garden State. The management and our programming consultant at the time, Walter Sabo, looked around at what we were doing on WKXW-FM and more importantly, what everyone else in radio was doing around us. They realized that up to this point, “KIXX” at it was called back then, was just another suburban station playing pop rock, with some news and info in the morning.

So they decided to try something new and different. Not music, not talk, not news, but a combination of all three, with a format that would concentrate on New Jersey.

Walter Sabo realized back then that with more than 130 radio signals reaching our state, (many from New York and Philadelphia), it was really hard to put together something unique. But in crafting this hybrid talk/news/music on the weekends format, they HIT THE JACKPOT! That’s because New York and Philly radio and TV treated Jersey like their backyard…you know, the place you only think about now and then? But back then, Press set about to program WKXW with New Jersey as the key…New Jersey topics, New Jersey news, New Jersey traffic, New Jersey weather.

I had a conversation one time with a passing acquaintance from upstate New York, and I told him that I worked for this radio station that focused completely on New Jersey.

His response was, “what’s so special about New Jersey?”

Obviously, he didn’t get it. But we all know here that after years of being New York and Philly’s bedroom, their afterthought, we were ready for a station that cared about us, first, last and always. So we set about to create this brave new format.

The birth, or I should say, the ‘rebirth’ of a radio station. How did it happen, back then?

Stay tuned…

You can read previous versions of “Back Then” anytime.

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