How WPLJ and Jim Kerr set my radio course
Growing up a rocker in the seventies, there were only 2 place to go for radio in New York. One was 102.7 WNEW-FM and the other was "New York's Best Rock," WPLJ. I can still hear those chords they played while the cool voice announcer said it. WPLJ played what today would be "rock hits," where as WNEW played more album cuts and the DJ's would create these incredible music sets using sometimes the most obscure album cuts.
But with WPLJ, if you didn't like the song that was playing now, be patient because the next one would be pretty much completely different. They also had a really cool air staff consisting of Jimmy Fink, Pat St. John, Zacherle, Mark Goodman, Carol Miller, who had the sexiest voice in rock radio, and led by morning man the very personable Jim Kerr. Jim sounds like he's your best friend. He's the guy I always wanted to sound like. It was Kerr who would set my radio course.
I was an avid listener to Jim in the morning and when I got out of broadcasting school I got the chance to meet him. My neighbor in Marlboro, Jimmy Williams, owned a chain of hair salons called "Act II Haircutters" and he advertised on WPLJ. He was also friends with Kerr and arranged for me to meet him at a bar he was appearing at called "Court Street."
At the time I had no idea what Jim looked like. I pictured him completely different from the guy in the place who was not much older than me running around making sure everything in the place was just right. I thought he was working at the bar when I tapped him on the shoulder asking where I could find Jim Kerr. Then when I heard that voice say "Are You Steve?" I was shocked.
He was so nice and forthcoming with advice, while chain smoking Kool's about how to chart my career. He said to me, "From the minute you walk into your first job, you're sending tapes out trying to get the next one, then maybe your next job is in say Erie Pennsylvania, you stay there maybe a year or so, then to a bigger market, like say Kansas City. You stay there maybe 2 years, then you're ready to come to New York." This is advice he has probably given to so many people, as I have since but to a 19-year-old kid looking to start out, it was gold.
I followed his advice to the letter, but Jersey style. My first job was WRLB in Long Branch. After 6 months I started also working at WHLW in Lakewood. I held both jobs for about another year then it was onto WPST where I worked mornings for 2 years before I received a call from the WYSP music director, the late Steve Feinstein, who brought me into Philadelphia which began a chapter of my life that would lead me to New Jersey 101.5.