WRNJ Radio in Hackettstown has had a few marketing slogans attached to it over the years, but the one it hasn’t used but probably is best suited for it might be “Community Commitment.”
For the past 40 years, beginning in August of 1976, WRNJ has been there for the community, one way or another in the area it covers, including Hackettstown, Washington, Mansfield Township, and surrounding towns.
Its focus on local has been – and remains – Number 1 in everything it does.
Covering the local news, weather and traffic with a passion, offering special shows on education, healthcare, politics, entertainment and life in general, hosting fundraisers, and highlighting high school and community sports teams are just some of the “community” functions WRNJ has taken on from Day 1.
“WRNJ is the glue that holds the greater Warren County community together,” said Kevin Guyette, Executive Director of The Warren County Arc Foundation. “WRNJ is the means by which good people come together to help their neighbors in need, and it’s the portal through which the stuff of real life is relayed by an engaged team to a receptive audience.”
The “team” that Guyette refers to includes Norman Worth, WRNJ’s President & GM, mainstay deejays Mike Galley, Chuck Reiger, Russ Long, Jay Edwards, and Dave Kelber, a news crew led by Joyce Estey and Tom O’Halloran, all held together by the behind-the-scenes organizational skills of Pat Layton and Wanda Bazur, who “keep the station humming.”
Over the years, WRNJ has helped raise nearly $7 million for a variety of individuals and organizations such as The Arc of Warren, Hackettstown Medical Center, NORWESCAP Food Bank, Warren County Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers & Sisters and many others.
“We’ve always tried to do our part,” Worth said modestly. “Being a part of the community has always been something we felt was important. We just did it. We weren’t looking for glory. We feel it’s our job to connect with people in a variety of ways, often for a common cause.”
Of course, Worth added, “It is nice to hear from people who say we are doing good things.”
WRNJ has been the glue to the Greater Hackettstown area. It is hard to imagine where one would get the local news without WRNJ in the picture, particularly in an age when there are few independently owned stations that can still be local to one community.
“WRNJ is clearly an integral part of the fabric of the Warren County community,,” said Dr. Will Austin, President of Warren County Community College. “They really do care about the community.”
Never was this more evident then in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. WRNJ became the go-to place for folks seeking up-to-date information, from where to buy gas to road conditions to what restaurants in the area were open. to when electricity was expected to be restored. WRNJ’s efforts did not go unnoticed. It received several awards and honors for its Superstorm Sandy coverage.
But WRNJ is also there for political debates, local and regional, lesser storms, breaking news, and even lost dogs and cats!
“I’ve been listening to WRNJ for practically my whole life,” said Assemblyman John DiMaio, who served as Hackettstown Mayor for many years. “To this day, I listen in every morning to the news because there isn’t much that gets past WRNJ. From a political standpoint they have always been fair in their coverage.”
One of the first decisions made by WRNJ at the outset was to cover Hackettstown High School football. This year marked the 40th year in a row of Tiger Football.
“When it comes to local sports, particularly Hackettstown football, it doesn’t get any more local than with WRNJ,” said Marty Yudichak, former Tiger player, later head coach at North Warren, and for the past four years, the Radio Voice of Hackettstown football. “As a kid I remember listening to the games on the radio. Then as a player to have people tell me they heard my name on the radio, well that was really something. To be able to broadcast the games now is really special for me.”
Without a doubt, WRNJ is really special to a lot of people.