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Stormwatch and Charlie from 7-Eleven

The beach in Belmar during Tuesday morning's high tide
The beach in Belmar during Tuesday morning’s high tide (Matt Doherty)

I was engaged in a nostalgic conversation with a fellow radio veteran Monday over what snow days were like in the old days which for the purpose of our discussion was the 80s and 90s.

It was not long ago that the only way you found out if you had school on inclement weather days was by listening to the radio and in Ocean County that meant WOBM.  As the former morning show co-host I can tell you major snow days to us was like Super Bowl Sunday.

Long before there was the internet, social media, smart phones and any true television coverage it was local radio that told you what was open and closed, postponed and re-scheduled.  We took that responsibility very seriously and would prepare for every possible situation.  Transportation was arranged to make sure there were always one or two people at the radio station whose sole job was to answer phones and write down (yes that’s correct) the cancellation announcements.

Schools and organizations were given private code numbers to use when they called in and some of our funniest stories dealt with those trying to get bogus closings on the air.  During this time schools rarely if ever postponed well in advance and usually the phones would start ringing around 5 a.m. and it seemed they did not stop for hours.

We would fine-tune the system to create lists that made it easier to take down the information so those like me could read them on the air throughout the morning.  During this time we were located in Bayville and fortunately made a lasting friendship with a guy who owned and operated a 7-Eleven in Lanoka Harbor.  No matter how bad the snowstorm was Charlie would find a way to get to us in the morning with pots of hot coffee and breakfast items which kept us going.

Today it’s a bit different.  Most of the schools closed today got the word out yesterday afternoon and evening via their website, our website, social media, texting and robocalls.  Parents and kids did not have to get up early this morning to listen to the radio as most knew when they went to bed last night.

Of course we’ll still tell you anyway because that’s local radio but I sure miss the old days and I sure miss those coffee deliveries from Charlie.


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