Category Archives: nj 101.5

Pop Culture Poser

Brad Benson, of Brad Benson Hyundai. This guy bugs me. His commercials appear far too frequently on News Jersey 101.5 FM. He does his own commercials, making pop culture references left and right, and trying to be funny, and one would hope (for his sake at least), selling cars.

The thing that bugs me, other than the frequency of the commercials, and his implied agreement with some of the station’s gay-unfriendly hosts (his ad about the pilots who missed their landing is horrendous and irresponsible, and don’t get me started on Dennis and Michele), is that he often gets his pop culture references wrong.

Now it’s one thing for KYW to pronounce Janeanne Garofolo’s name as “Jane-anne Garroh-folloh” or CNN to have commentators at the Michael Jackson memorial who don’t know who Berry Gordy is, but this falls into a whole ‘nother category.

On the surface, Brad Benson saying Susan Boyle was on the British “American Idol” instead of “Britain’s Got Talent,” for instance, may seem petty, but look at it this way… Have you ever bought a car? Remember the scary and unreasonable amount of detailed paperwork involved in buying a car? Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff, and a lot of stuff to make sure is absolutely right, T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

Do you want a guy who won’t even do a moment’s research on a commercial he’s paying for to handle details on a car you’re paying for? I don’t. I want someone very detail-oriented, someone who won’t make mistakes and just laugh it off. I guess I’m not buying a Hyundai from Brad Benson.

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The Price of Satellite Radio

I love my satellite radio. I love it so much that I rarely listen to terrestrial radio any more. Maybe some WXPN and maybe some NJ 101.5 FM, but let’s face it, my favorite terrestrial programs like Coast to Coast AM and some of the NPR stuff are all on satellite now. Not much reason to turn on the old fashioned radio any more.

Just got a notice from XM (yeah, they merged with Sirius, but they’ll always be XM to me) that my subscription rates are going up. The reasons cited are as follows:

”Music royalty rights were established by the U.S. Congress as part of the Copyright Act. This Act requires payment of copyright music royalties to recording artists, musicians and recording companies who hold copyrights in sound recordings.

“These royalties have recently increased dramatically, principally as a result of a decision made by the Copyright Royalty Board, which is designated by the Library of Congress to set royalty rates for sound recordings. Beginning on July 29, 2009, a “U.S. Music Royalty Fee” of $1.98/month* for primary subscriptions and $.97/month* for multi-receiver subscriptions will be effective upon your next renewal. This fee will be used directly to offset increased payments from XM to the recording industry.”

Now really, that’s fine. As a writer, I’m not someone who’s ever going to begrudge anyone royalties, that’s just how things work, and furthermore should work. I don’t have a real problem with the price hike, as long as my favorite stuff remains on the XM. What irked me was what I found when I went to the XM website and took a survey.

The survey was about my listening preferences, but seemed to mention little of what I actually listen to on XM. I stopped finding Howard Stern funny some time before he left terrestrial radio, so that’s not for me. I can count on one hand the number of times in three years I’ve listened to any of the nearly hundred sports channels, and Oprah barely amuses me even when she’s on TV. The big guns don’t interest me.

Most of what I listen to is talk radio. I’m addicted to Coast to Coast AM, which while occupying nearly eleven hours of programming per day, was not mentioned by the survey. Opie and Anthony get a brief mention, probably because they bitch on air about Sirius’ prejudice mercilessly. But nowhere did I see other things I listen to faithfully like the old time radio shows on Radio Classics and the wonderful audiobook variety at Book Radio. All there was in the survey was the rather vague description of ‘talk entertainment.’ That covers a lot of ground, and a lot of stuff I really don’t like. How can this survey really tell them anything?

The XM world has been getting smaller and smaller since the Sirius merge – mostly because it was more of a takeover than a merge. The mega-powered Sirius, with the ratings powerhouse (apparently) Stern behind it appeared to change everything on the XM dial as if they and they alone were calling the shots. We lost truly entertaining music stations in favor of the inferior Sirius versions of them.

My point is that for the price increase, how about some verification we’ll keep the programming we enjoy? How about it, XM? Sorry, I mean, how about it, Sirius?

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A Tale of Two Michelles

This is the tale of two Michelles, one with one L and one with two, and a happy situation, unfortunately at the expense of a Judi.


Several months ago, New Jersey 101.5 FM’s After Hours program with Michele Pilenza went from a train wreck that I would listen to only to hear the carnage, to an actually interesting radio show. This was due to the presence of Michelle Jerson, subbing for Pilenza while she had her baby.

Michelle Jerson was a breath of fresh air. Not only was she a more experienced, and in my humble opinion, a much more entertaining broadcaster, but she was much more open-minded – something that might be important in doing a radio talk show that purports to give advice about lifestyle, relationships, sex and romance.

When Michele Pilenza with one L returned from maternity leave, she stepped easily back into the same shoes she left. Judgmental and close-minded as ever, she was back, and I was out of there. I was missing Ms. Jerson badly, as I really wanted to enjoy the show as an intelligent talk show instead of a nightly train wreck. Seriously, I just couldn’t take Ms. Pilenza saying inane things like “fat people shouldn’t date” or “ugly people should just give up” or telling callers that they were “freaks” because of some miscellaneous fetish. Like I said, she was real open-minded.

Luckily, or unluckily depending on your outlook, Ms. Pilenza has left the evening airways for the mornings, joining Dennis Malloy to replace the departing Judi Franco. As I wasn’t a fan, this didn’t affect me, but the side effect did – Michelle Jerson returned to the nighttime After Hours slot. Way to go, Michelle, you’ve got a regular listener.

The Rock Is Back

The rock is back.

Um, yeah.

*yawn*

Just in time. ‘Cause I just got XM Radio for my birthday.

At 5 PM today WYSP 94 FM in Philadelphia changed its format. Again. Now we’re back to rock, progressive hard rock from all indications, and away from talk as it had been for a few months. Two hours into the the Kidd Chris Show, with guests Opie & Anthony in town for a special event, the format changed. The first three songs played were “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Back in Black” by AC/DC and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana as if to strengthen the point. Most notably, Kidd Chris did not come back to finish his show.

Now I’m a talk radio fan just as much as I’m a radio fan. I love music and I love radio.

I was the kid in high school who carried a boombox with me everywhere. I was the kid who knew all the new music, sometimes before the radio played it. I knew and listened to every station on the dial FM and AM. I bought everything and made mix-tapes on an almost daily basis. In college I embarked on dual careers in radio and in music journalism. I have several thousands of songs on my iTunes and reload my iPod almost daily. Nothing makes me happier than my music. So another decent music station in the normally dead zone of Philadelphia radio is a good thing, right?

Maybe.

As I said I’m also a talk radio fan. I’ve been one since the mid-1970s listening to Larry King and then WWDB-FM with their all-talk format. I know talk show hosts as well as I know music. I have as many fond memories of Irv Homer and Richard Hayes as I do of Kate Bush and David Bowie. Over the years, talk radio flourished and changed, mostly in part to the wildly successful efforts of Howard Stern, along with his imitators and innovators. Stern at WYSP soon led to Opie & Anthony coming there as well. My tastes soon followed, more in line with O&A than Stern.

When Stern left for Sirius satellite radio, some said that was the end of terrestrial radio. Having listened to David Lee Roth, who replaced Howard here in Philly, I would tend to agree. Fortunately O&A returned to replace Roth, and suddenly I didn’t miss Stern all that much anymore, if at all.

The part that excited me was that along with the return of O&A, WYSP seemed to be making a stand as a talk station. The Barsky Show that followed O&A was certainly better than the immature tripe going on over at NJ 101.5 FM and had a fun quality to it, always enjoyable to have on. Even Matt & Huggy had an endearing quality. My real faves though had to be Loveline and John and Jeff shows that covered overnights.

I love Loveline, not just for the information given or the entertainment value of the hosts and guests, but for the callers. Callers to these types of shows are demented. The same appeal holds for me with both Drs. Joy and laura, neither host do I like, but their callers provide me with hours of entertainment. I’ll also miss John and Jeff who were an intriguing second choice when Coast to Coast AM had an uninteresting topic that night.

Of course all of this is a shame. I highly doubt WYSP’s new rock format will be enough to regain the ratings edge they may have lost, and no matter how good the music is, it won’t anywhere near as interesting as any talk program could be. I wish them luck, because other than listening to an Eagles game in the car I probably won’t be listening to WYSP again in the near future.

As I said, I recent got XM satellite radio. With that I can listen to Opie and Anthony (as well as full broadcasts of Coast to Coast – damn you 1210 AM) so I don’t see much use any longer in WYSP. And besides, there’s so much programming I’d rather listen to on the XM, I don’t need many terrestrial stations that much anymore.

Shame. Good luck, WYSP.

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Old People Radio

I’m a huge talk radio fan. And being from the Philadelphia area where the genre’s heyday is firmly in the past buried under a tombstone marked “WWDB,” good talk radio is sometimes hard to find. One such place, until very recently, used to News Jersey 101.5 FM headquartered in Trenton, which for all intents and purposes is basically Philadelphia.

For many years the stars and major highlight of their talk line-up was the afternoon drive time team of Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, the Jersey Guys (pictured above). They could have easily been shuffled into a Howard Stern or an Opie & Anthony category except for their active attitude toward happenings in New Jersey. They were not just entertaining and funny, they were politically and socially active as well.

The duo had a good camaraderie, if you could call it that. Ray was older, more sensible, and a radio veteran. Craig on the other hand was a cutting edge shock-jock type whose grasp of pop culture was unrivalled. Where normally such a mix would be like oil and water, here it worked.

Now Craig has unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) have left NJ 101.5 to replace Don Imus at WFAN in New York. NJ 101.5 has decided to retool the Jersey Guys show and replace carton with someone named Casey Bartholomew. The show is now described thus: “Casey Bartholomew and Ray Rossi: The best thing Jersey has to offer…next to the tomato. A couple of ‘Good Fellas’ in a Jersey state of mind. Gen-X meets the Baby Boomer. They call it like it is, no holds barred. Find out why the most listened to FM Talk Show in the country is on New Jersey 101.5.”

“Gen-X meets the Baby Boomer,” eh? Doesn’t that imply a younger or younger-ish slant? Maybe. Maybe not. My first exposure to Casey had him mentioning his age, and growing up fantasizing about Rebecca DeMornay in Risky Business. I thought, okay, he’s my age. Not quite.

The topic of that hour was Elvis and other dead singers. This is not a usual Jersey Guys topic, this is something more suited to the frivolous Frick and Frack show that runs at noontime. Fluff, nothing but fluff. The Jersey Guys that I know tackle stuff like illegal immigrants and corrupt state troopers.

Casey Bartholomew after taking the prerequisite calls about Elvis, commenting on how much he liked and respected him, he took a call from a caller who discussed Kurt Cobain. Casey confronted the caller questioning what was so great about Cobain, referring to the legend as a loser.

This is a Gen-X-er??? Whether you liked Kurt Cobain or not, it can’t be denied that the man changed the entire landscape of music in the early 1990s. This idiot wouldn’t even acknowledge that. As a matter of fact, he came off sounding a lot more like a Dominic Quinn or that old man Gearhart idiot NJ 101.5 has given mornings to than anyone even close to my age. And this is a representative of Generation X?

Well, that’s it for me and NJ 101.5 I think. I hate the old man in the morning, I have to be in the mood for the fluff at noon, and I just can’t stand Michele Pilenza, a lifestyle and relationship host that apparently thinks only good-looking people should be able to date (I swear, she’s said it more than once!), I think I’m officially an ex-listener. Which is a shame, because I actually do like the overnight guy Tommy G., too bad WYSP has better talk programming on at the same time.

Bye bye, News Jersey. Hope you get enough old people listening to keep your ratings now.