Celebrating National DJ Day: Big Joe on his passion for NJ radio
It’s National DJ Day on Jan. 20. According to the definition, we “celebrate” the work that DJ’s do, spinning the hits for a receptive audience whether in a club, at Sweet 16 parties or on your radio. I’ve never been a fan of the term DJ but I have always been a big fan of the job.
I’ve had my turn at other jobs and each of them were truly outstanding. I loved what I did. Most included travel throughout the U.S. and eventually throughout the world. I was fortunate enough to go to the nicest restaurants in the world, travel first class and by limo, go to all the major sporting events all on the company’s dime.
I got to meet celebrities and professional athletes and some of the greatest people but nothing compares to the job of being on the radio. I gave up all that pomp and circumstance of my past career, and took a major pay cut to get back into radio. It’s what I loved to do.
People in my previous industry thought I had lost my mind. How could I give up that job that everyone wanted, the great apartment and lifestyle? I threw it all away and never doubted myself for a minute.
Playing the hits is the best job I ever had. When you have a passion for music and entertaining and those worlds collide it is a great pleasure to have that as your job.
I have never taken for granted the job that I have and it takes hard work and a little bit of talent to be good at being on the radio. When I got back on the radio I knew I would start back at the bottom and work my way back up and let me tell you something, working at the bottom of radio is tough. When you’re at the bottom the money sucks, the hours are horrendous and it’s virtually a thankless job but all that’s OK because you get to play the hits.
As you rise up from the bottom the money gets a little bit better, the hours become a little steadier, you have a little more confidence and you’re playing the hits while working hard at honing your craft. Life is good.
I got back into radio here in New Jersey in the ’90s working at Oldies 107.1 in Long Branch. I filled in during the holidays, did what I was told and in a short time, I was on from 3 – 7 p.m., Monday to Friday and eventually became the program director. I had a blast.
We had great promotions, great staff and most importantly our ratings were very good. We hosted many oldies concerts and I got to meet and become friends with many of the groups that I hosted. The station was sold and in December of 1996, I was the last man on the air to turn the switch over to the new owners.
The next month I was at New Jersey 101.5 playing the hits on the weekends because they were talk during the week. This month is my 26th year here at New Jersey 101.5 and I still have the best job in the world.
To every one of my program directors, I thank you. Thank you for allowing me to do what I love best, being a DJ.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.