New Jersey 101.5 is proud to announce it is the recipient of eight 2017 NJ Society of Professional Journalists awards for work published in 2016.

Judges were impressed by the station's tireless efforts to inform New Jerseyans on issues as pressing as last year's gas tax hike, and its hosts' passionate arguments against it. They lauded New Jersey 101.5's breaking news coverage of the Seaside Park bombing on-air and online, and its honest, multifaceted look at New Jersey's heroin crisis.

Deputy Digital Editor Sergio Bichao's look at the aftermath of a racial profiling scandal in North Jersey won praise for its use of open-records laws — a contest judge called the report "eye-opening and important."

And although the awards are primarily for journalists, New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski's touching remembrance of the only time his father said he loved him was honored as well.

The awards received for work in 2016 are:

New Jersey's gas tax
Michael Symons (with Bill Spadea and New Jersey 101.5 staff)
Second place for online division, public service category
From the judge: "Great effort and tenacity to look at the process of heading towards a big gas tax to pay for past debts in transportation."

Racial profiling fallout: Bias complaints kept secret after NJ police chief loses job
Sergio Bichao
First place for online division, Tim O'Brien Award for best use of the open public records law
From the judge: "This work shows the importance of open-records laws in providing evidence behind what some might dismiss. The results were eye-opening and important."

New Jersey's Heroin Crisis (radio coverage — listen at this link)
Eric Scott and David Matthau
First Place for radio division, enterprise category
From the judge: "All of these pieces took on excellent in-depth topics. The heroin piece seemed to provide an additional layer of depth and production. It combined all of the excellent editing skills to create an introduction to a town hall meeting that delved further in."

New Jersey's Heroin Crisis (digital coverage)
David Matthau
Third place for online division, enterprise/series/investigative reporting category
From the judge: "A tremendous effort to look at the terrible opium epidemic. It looked at the problem from every angle."

New Jersey terror bombing (digital coverage)
Sergio Bichao, Louis C. Hochman, Dan Alexander
First place for state or regional news division, local journalism category
From the judge: "Incredible job. Very strong reporting overall. Great use of links, video, and photo galleries to illustrate the stories. It is so complete that I can't imagine a better source for this locally based, yet national story."

Seaside Park bombing (radio coverage — listen at this link)
Eric Scott, Patrick Lavery, David Matthau, Annette Petriccione, Dino Flammia, Jen Ursillo, Joe Cutter, Bob Williams
First Place for radio division, breaking or hard news category
From the judge: "This is an ideal example of how to follow a breaking news story with constant updates, dispelling rumors along the away — correcting the record — and never letting go of a story by digging for more sources, conducting more interviews and following the story. Both stories show the power and immediacy radio still possesses. They are thorough and well reported stories that are urgent. They also cater to their audiences by updating traffic information and help people move to where ever they are going safely."

Jeff Deminski
Jeff Deminski

The only time my father said he loved me
Jeff Deminski
Third place for state/regional journalism category, column writing

What happens when you bring Chris Christie to the MVC?
Louis C. Hochman
Second place for all media division, best web video
(Video seen above)

More from New Jersey 101.5: