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Willie Twyman: Back Then…The Unofficial History of NJ 101.5

From the begining of New Jersey 101.5 until February of 2003, the late Willie Twyman toiled nightly on what he called, “The Third Shift” back then.

Back Then 1991
A stations celebration from 1991, the nature of which now escapes me. Anyway, there were balloons & beer. From left to right, Bill Metzger, John McCullough, Dan Shaw, Willie Twyman, Ken Wright, Brooke Daniels and yours truly. Up front, beer bottle in hand, Nancy Levine. (Joe Cutter, Townsquare Media NJ)

Willie kept us all company through the wee small hours with his music. He was also my friend.

Actually, he predated New Jersey 101.5, having played the third shift back when we were known as, “KIXX”, before 1990. Willie had an explosive sense of humor and a quick smile through those many, many long nights. Ask anyone who has ever tried to be interesting and entertaining at 3 or 4 in the morning. It is no easy task.

I remember, back then, coming into the station in the wee small hours and being greeted by Twyman. I was there to get the ball rolling on the morning news. Some mornings, actually, a lot of mornings, I was TIRED. Working those hours tends to have that effect on you. Willie used to keep what we called his, “stash”, which consisted of a couple of six-packs of a soda called, “Jolt” cola. Its claim to fame was that it contained twice the caffein and twice the sugar of ordinary cola, so when I was tired and dragging, Willie would trot out the, “Jolt” to help wake me up. He used to hide it somewhere in a storage closet around here. But it did the trick on those morning when nothing else would wake me up.

I also remember there were a few songs that I had taken a liking to that Willie used to play. One was by R and B singer William DeVaughn called, “Be Thankful for What You Got.” The lyrics went something like, “though you may not drive a great big Cadillac…diamond in the back…sunroof top….just be thankful for what you got.” Willie would show up in the newsroom doorway every once in awhile back then with a sparkle in his eye and a smile. “Hey Joe, I’m gonna play that song.”

Sadly, Willie Twyman passed away not long after leaving New Jersey 101.5 in 2003.

Willie Twyman, on the third shift on New Jersey 101.5.

He was my friend.


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