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Saturday 22 Jun 2024

Radio Sisters
Matt Seinberg

I have radio sisters. There are three radio sisters, in fact, Sue, Robin and JJ. We form a radio family.

We are special or best friends, though we each have our family. My radio sisters are special to me. We don't see each other much or even talk a lot, but we know we are there for each other.

Sue O'Neal is one of my radio sisters. She came to New York City, in 1978, from WGCL-FM, in Cleveland, Ohio. In New York City, she started at WXLO-FM or 99X, as some call it. She was one of the first hires by a new Program Director (PD), Bobby Rich.

At first, Sue did 10 pm to 2 am, on WXLO-FM. She moved to middays, 10 am to 2 pm. We became friends because I often called to ask she play this or that record; once she my voice became familiar, we got to talking about radio, if she had time.

Finally, I met, live, Sue at 99X. I had full-blown, fifty-cent tour of the station. I met some of the other DJs, too, including Glenn Morgan, Dick Sloan, Bobby Messina, the music director (MD), Rick Bisceglia, and the PD, Bobby Rich.

Sue came out to Long Island to visit my family and me. She got the ten-cent tour of Air Check Central, the room where Big Apple Air Checks comes alive. My gift to her that day was a bag of Bagel Boss bagels, from the original store in Hicksville.

Sue left 99X, in 1980, and we lost touch for a time. One Sunday afternoon, I was driving in Eisenhower Park, in East Meadow, a small-town on Long Island. I was checking out the stations and turned on WPLJ-FM.

I heard Sue. What a rush. I couldn't wait to get home so I could call the station and talk to her. We were eager to chat after a couple of years.

The next stop for Sue was WTJM-FM that is, Jammin 105. She did 2-6 PM. I used to call her, from the car, on my way home from work. Sometimes I missed Sue and ended talking with "Famous Amos," with whom I became friends, too.

The radio journey, for Sue O'Neal, continued. She worked WCBS-FM and WQHT-FM, which, a long-time ago, was WNBC-FM. One day Sue called. Did I have an air check, of her, at Jammin 105? She was applying to Mix 102.7, which, once a long-time ago, was WNEW-FM, and the PD, Rick Martini, wanted a New York City air check. That deed done in the flash of a cosmic eye, Martini hired Sue.

When Mix 102.7 changed formats, yet again, Sue moved to weekends on WKTU-FM. Then WCBS-FM wanted her back. Brian Thomas, PD of WCBS-FM, wanted an air check from Mix 102.7. The station, of course, hired Sue. How many of us can say we have friends that we go back 30 years with? I can and I'm glad its Sue!

Robin Marshall is my "VO Goddess" and second radio sisters. I met her when she worked WAPP-FM, 103.5 FM WKTU-FM, in New York City. That was 1985. My friend, Allen Beebe also worked WAPP-FM and introduced me to Robin.

Beebe left WAPP-FM and, with him, my reason to visit the station. I fell out of contact, with Robin Marshall, for a while. Maybe she left town, I thought.

Nope, she stayed in town, but worked several radio stations under different names. At WQHT-FM, Hot 97, she was Chelsea Lewis; not even the PD, of the station, Joel Salkowitz, remember her using that name. For several years, Robin worked weekends at WQCD-FM, CD 101.9, and was the voice-image of the station. WQCD-FM changed formats, Robin was a drift for a while, but ended working weekends at WWFS-FM, Fresh 102.7.

Today, Robin owns a successful syndicated radio show, "Jayne," from a studio in her Long Island home. She provides customized voice tracks for each station that carries her show. Customized means that for each station,

Robin does a unique track; for example, if WWWW-FM runs "Jayne," she voices a track, such as "You're listing to "Jayne," on WWWW-FM, in Gawd foresaken, Guam." It's a nice touch.

Robin also voices commercials and promotional spots for other stations. She does "Jayne" and the voice work, raises five children and takes care of her husband. I weary thinking about it.

My third radio sister is Maryanne Roque. On air, she works as Beth Marshall or JJ Kennedy. The two Marshalls caused occasional confusion, as you might imagine; let's stick to Maryanne Roque as JJ Kennedy.

JJ Kennedy is a New York City radio icon. She started at WYNY-FM, in 1977, using two names, Beth Marshall and Maryanne Roque. Different shifts, different names, I guess. In 1978, she worked WGBB-AM and WNEW-AM. I 1980s, JJ worked WPLJ-FM and then WLTW-FM, where she hosted the "Lite At Nite" show, for twenty years.

I first contacted JJ in 2004. I was organizing reunion of on- and off-air staffers from WNBC-AM and WYNY-FM. Since JJ worked briefly at WYNY-FM, I called her, at the station, Lite FM to invite her to the reunion. After that call, we became friends on the phone and by e-mail. I sometimes signed my emails, to JJ, "Not Your Son, Matt" as she has a son named Matt.

As we talked and e-mailed, we came to know each other well. JJ said that since I was too old to be her son, I could be her brother. The idea of radio sisters grew from my contact with JJ.

After twenty years, Lite FM let JJ go. Twenty years in the same show is a heralded radio achievement and her loss was a shock to everyone, JJ, her listeners and me. Yet, twenty years at one radio station, doing one show, is a major accomplishment.

For two years, JJ bounced through several radio stations in Westchester Country, which is north and east of New York City. She worked WFAS-FM, WEBE-FM, WICC-AM and WDBY-FM. These were part-time jobs, with full-time hours, which is what radio is about today.

In 2008, JJ joined the John Gambling Morning Show, on WOR-AM. This is a legacy radio show. John Gambling, an engineer at WOR-AM, in 1925, took over the morning show, in a pinch. For 85 years, the show passed from father to son.

Now JJ Kennedy has a complicated life. Who wants to go to bed at 6 pm and get up at 3 am to be fresh and on the air at 6 am? That's her schedule, now, and worth it, given the show she works.

These women and their families are important to me. They have successful radio careers, which span many years in the number one broadcast market in America. We are not blood relatives, but to me they are family, my radio sisters.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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