As I write this on the afternoon of Friday, May 31st, 2019, New York's WPLJ-FM has only a few hours left. When 7:00 rolls around tonight, the iconic station will sign off forever.

These last few days, people have been sharing their WPLJ stories. You wouldn't believe how many people in the radio business can trace their roots back to PLJ.

I'm one of them.

I grew up in Middlesex County in the 80s and 90s. The two stations that I listened to the most were KIX 101.5, which you know better today as our sister station New Jersey 101.5, and 95.5 PLJ.

I grew up listening to Scott & Todd in the morning, Kristie McIntyre, Kim Ashley, and Fast Jimi during the day, and The Rocky Allen Showgram in the afternoon.

I idolized WPLJ.

I went to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut as a Mass Communications major starting in 1996, and I was determined to work at PLJ.

Before my college days, I'd spent my summers at a camp in the Poconos. I grew up there. My oldest and dearest friends still to this day are my camp friends. But at the end of the summer of 1997, I said that it was my last season at camp because I'd be interning at PLJ the next summer.

The truth is, I had no idea.

I hadn't talked to anyone at PLJ, I hadn't even talked to my college advisor about an internship by that point.

But, in my youthful arrogance I went and told everyone that I'd be doing exactly that, so I figured I'd better make good on it.

And I did.

I will never forget taking the elevator at 2 Penn Plaza up to the 17th floor the day that I went in for the interview. The doors opened, and there on the wall was a huge 95.5 WPLJ logo.

I'm pretty sure that I said, "what the $&!* am I doing here??" out loud.

That summer changed my life.

I started as a promotions intern and before the summer was over, I was brought into the studio to be the intern for "The Danny & Onions Show" at night.

Justin with WPLJ's "Onions" in Times Square

Through being in the studio with Danny & Onions, I met the music director who hired me to answer phones and produce weekend shows.

I took the train from New Haven, CT to New York City every weekend. While my college friends were partying, I was living my dream at WPLJ.

While in school, I got my first on-air job at New Haven's KC-101 thanks to WPLJ's overnight guy Dave Stewart, someone else who I got to know through being in the studio with Danny & Onions. Dave generously helped me put together my very first demo tape.

The rest, as they say, is history.

That internship did exactly what internships are meant to do - it gave me a taste of the business, introduced me to mentors, and gave my career a solid foundation to begin on.

I made my way through the radio business like a lot of people do; working weekends here, fill-ins there, full time in a small market, then a slightly bigger market, weekends in a major market, then the call came to bring me home to New Jersey to join what is now Townsquare Media's Jersey Shore group of radio stations.

And it all started with WPLJ.

It's sad to see PLJ go, but these past few weeks of reunions, reminiscing, and memories have been amazing to see and hear.

It's not often that radio people lift the curtain on the business, and you'll rarely hear DJs talk about other stations, but there are a lot of people right now who are rightfully thanking WPLJ for starting their careers.

Count me as one of them.

 

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