December 6, 1970. One of the best days of my life.

December 6, 1970 was one of the best days of my life. I became a DJ that day and I was thrilled.

Here’s the background:

In September 1970 I was a freshman at Rutgers in New Brunswick. During my first few days on campus I saw a flyer posted on a tree about joining WRSU, the Rutgers radio station. (No internet back then—flyers on trees and bulletin boards were mass communication tools on campus). WRSU was the college radio station broadcasting on the top floor of the then “new” student center on College Ave which had opened the previous year.

WRSU at that time was an AM station which broadcast only into the Rutgers dorms so its total potential total audience was merely a few thousand people. Realistically the station’s listening audience at any point in time was probably less than a hundred students. But no matter. I took it seriously. After several sessions of practice and training on board operation, I had my shot.

My first air shift was December 6, 1970 on Sunday morning at 8am for one hour. It was actually possible that no one was listening. Realistically how many radio listeners are there at 8am Sunday morning on a college campus to a radio station only broadcast to dorm residents!

Nonetheless I was terrified. Would I choke? Would I screw up and end up with dead air? Would I stammer? I did none of these things. Despite my terror, I was elated. What a rush. I was playing rock & roll records and I was now a DJ. How cool was that? I taped my show and others for my review and critique. I wanted to get better (and I needed to).

My first record will always have a special place in my heart. Right after 8am I played We Gotta Get You a Woman by Runt (Todd Rundgren). A catchy tune and a personal favorite at that time. The rest of the hour flew by. What a rush. I needed more. And I got more. I worked whatever shifts I got and subbed for others as well. I was hooked on “spinning vinyl”.

For the next 4 years I spent hours daily at the station and helped the station become an FM station during my junior year. WRSU 88.7 FM. I helped develop the station’s budget for the FM conversion which was approved without change, with one exception. The vacuum was denied (that was something that was sorely needed—a big miss for the University).

I improved and I became decent on air, but never great. I became the music director at WRSU and did air shifts playing mostly hits of the time (1970-1974), but more importantly made lifelong friends at the station, Bob Wiesner and Mark Chernoff, and later Judy Tint. As an FM station the listening radius was now much expanded, and my mother listened to me and Mark from our home in Springfield, NJ 20 miles away.

After we graduated from Rutgers, Bob Wiesner and I went into careers in advertising, but Mark took a different path. After a very short stint as an accountant, Mark made radio his career, paid the price with long hours, long commutes to local NJ stations. But his hard work and talent paid off in the 80s when he became the Music Director at the then legendary, WNEW-FM and then his career accelerated from there. Today, he is the SVP Programming of WFAN/New York, and Entercom Sports. He is probably WRSU’s most distinguished radio alumni, and he too owes his start to WRSU.

But back in the 80s when Mark was the Program Director at a Album Rock Station, WDHA in Dover, NJ, he offered me the “opportunity” to work overnights on Friday night/Saturday morning for $5/hour. I jumped at this lucrative opportunity. I had a day job in advertising as a management guy at BBDO, but couldn’t wait until Friday night. I was not just a DJ but thanks to my buddy Mark, I was now a professional DJ! (Irrelevant factoid: Mark’s first DJ air shift at WRSU was filling in for me).

Radio was my first love back then. Radio broke new music and played an important role in not just my life, but every teen and people in their twenties (we were not called Millennials then). Alas, the industry has changed, and not for the better and its importance in people’s lives has faded.

But for me, radio was always thrilling. I learned a lot from being a DJ too. and it all began 50 years ago on December 6, 1970 at WRSU. A day that will live in infamy (for me).

Leroy, boy, is that you?
I thought your post-hangin’ days were through,
Sunk-in eyes and full of sighs,
Tell no lies, you get wise,
I tell you now we’re gonna pull you through,
There’s only one thing left that we can do

We gotta get you a woman,
It’s like nothin’ else to make you feel sure you’re alive
We gotta get you a woman,
We better get walkin’, we’re wastin’ time talkin’ now………

More Strumings


  1. James Kennedy says:

    And when we’re thru with you
    We’ll get me one too

    Our paths are similar. I joined WCCR at Camden County College in 1976, a whopping 10 volts. Protocol was to start in the newsroom. I eventually had several different shows. Then we went FM as WDBK. I remember walking the parking lot with the PD and 2 on airs, looking at license plates to see letter combinations that rolled nicely off the tongue…and WDBK was born. I went on to become the PD myself, and made lifelong friends. Turns out accounting is in the blood. Harry West (introduced me to Marshall Tucker music) has been a cost accountant for 40 years. Len Emerle became a CPA, as did I. Len had the best voice and I still project with it frequently during public speaking. I still have my FCC license with elements 1 and 2!! It’s expired, but I still have it. This was a great post Lonny. We sure have a lot in common

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