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Back Then…The Unofficial History Of NJ 101.5

Yours truly, reading the news in the old studio in the old building. Notice there are no computer screens, no electronics. Just a man and his microphone.
Joe Cutter in newsroom (Joe Cutter)

Earlier, we told you about how New Jersey 101.5 found its focus and purpose in the media world by, as they say, “catching lightning in a bottle”, back then, by focusing on some huge tax increases proposed by the administration of Governor Jim Florio.

Many in Trenton criticized us back then, saying, “we just did it for ratings.”

And they refused to believe us when we told them that you, the public, grabbed hold of the so-called “tax revolt” back then with a death grip, and we here at New Jersey 101.5 just followed your lead.

Anyway, the “revolt” started to get a great deal of attention from outside media back then, as caller after caller criticized and complained about the tax increases to balance the deep hole in the state budget.

John Budzash and Pat Ralston had organized, “Hands Across New Jersey” to solidify the revolt with a series of protests at the Statehouse back then.

Here at the radio station, TV news crews started showing up, one after the other, to do a story about the tax revolt back then. You couldn’t see them on the radio, but in our studios, we were entertaining one or two camera crews per week, setting up in the studios to do a story on, “this Trenton radio station at the center of the revolt.”

Jim Gearhart and John and Ken became very used to having a camera lens in their face while sitting at the microphone back then.

We were visited, one by one, by just about every local news crew from TV in both New York and Philadelphia, as well as CBS, NBC and CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and many others back then and again, the critics told us, “you guys are just doing this for publicity.” The fact of the matter was that all of the outside media attention was like a gift that we could never have orchestrated or engineered on our own. It happened because we simply gave listeners a place to sound their anger and frustration, and other news organizations found New Jersey 101.5 to be one of the focal points of that public dissatisfaction.

In our studios we became very accustomed to working on the air with cameras and TV people around us back then. Toward the end of the stampede, we were visited by a news crew from a small public TV station, I think they were from Long Island. Mostly young, entry-level TV types, armed to the teeth with equipment, lights, cameras, meters and the like. What was really funny, (at least to me), was a young female reporter from this particular group, who wanted to “prep” us for their camera shoot by saying, “now don’t be nervous. Just ignore the cameras and the lights and go about your routine.” It struck me as funny because at this point in time we had become more than a little accustomed to tripping over TV cables back then….

To be continued…..

In the meantime, check out past editions of “Back Then…”

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