I’ll Tell You Who You Are: Back Then…The Unofficial History Of NJ 101.5
I guess someone somewhere once said that you can tell a lot about someone by the cut of their clothing.
I have found that, over the years, people in New Jersey have come to recognize that symbol of our radio station...you know, that little logo, "New Jersey 101.5?" And I have frequently received feedback when someone recognizes it, mostly good, sometimes, not-so-good.
I remember, back then, I am covering the original opening of the Aquarium in Camden... February 29, 1992. Now you will know it as, "Adventure Aquarium." It was a Saturday back then, and the coldest day of the year.
It was originally dubbed, "The Thomas Kean State Aquarium at Camden," named for the former Governor who was there, back then, and joked about how weird it is to have something named after you while you are still upright.
Anyway, I am on my way into the opening event with a lot of other reporters. One of the locals saw my jacket with THAT LOGO and he says something like, "oh, New Jersey 101.5. Why do you guys always stick it to Camden?" Why so many negative stories about Camden?"
I explained to him that one of the reasons I was there that day, back then, was to do a positive story about Camden, its aquarium.
We used to wear these heavy bright red jackets that really stood out in a crowd, with the New Jersey 101.5 logo embroidered large and boldly across the back.
Occasionally, I would find myself in some checkout line somewhere. Invariably, someone behind me would see the jacket, (you couldn't miss it), see the logo, and a voice behind me would say something like, "New Jersey 101.5." Then I would hold my breath and count to three, waiting for the comment, good or bad, about our very own radio station. Most of the time it would be something good, such as, "I like the way you give the traffic reports and the weather every ten minutes or so."
Occasionally, it would be negative, like the fellow in Camden.
But one thing is for sure. We have ALWAYS been controversial. We have always been a lightning rod.
Last winter, I was shopping. I am waiting to pay for something, standing next to an elderly lady who recognized my jacket and started a conversation. She told me that she listens to Jim Gearhart all of the time.
After I thanked her for her support, she volunteered that she is a retired school teacher. So now I am waiting for the other, "shoe to drop" in our conversation. She told me that she does not like the way we are always downing school teachers, but that she still enjoys Jim because he is intelligent and always entertaining.
Whatever the comment, positive, negative or in-between, I always try to be a good listener.
I am buying at burger at the Moorestown Mall recently, my wife by my side. A pretty young woman, early twenties, a manager at this restaurant, sees my logo-emblazoned clothing and starts into this long discussion with me about how much she enjoys that we talk about the issues that really matter in the Garden State.
Again, I thanked her for her interest and support and after a few minutes, she went back to her job and we resumed our task of consuming burgers. My wife said something to the tune of, "She sure picked you out of the crowd with that jacket on." To which I replied, "one of the reasons that I wear this is because it's a 'chick magnet'."
Our intrepid reporter, David Matthau, talks about the time a few years ago, when he was on the road covering some story, and he parked a station news vehicle in the lot of a fast food place in North Jersery to get some lunch. When he came out of the restaurant, a large woman who recognized the station logo on the sides of the car approached David.
Matthau says the woman looked at the car and said to him, "New Jersey 101.5...? You got any prizes...?"
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