WKXW (101.5 FM, "New Jersey 101.5") is a radio station based just outside Trenton, New Jersey. The station is licensed to serve the Trenton area on 101.5 MHz FM and is also streamed on the station's website. It is owned by Townsquare Media. Its studios and offices are located in Ewing and its transmitter is located near the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence Township in Mercer County, New Jersey.
The station went on the air on August 27, 1962, as WBUD-FM. Its call letters subsequently changed to WBJH, which stood for Bill and Joy Hardin, the son and daughter-in-law of the owner. About 1977, the station changed calls to WTRT and called itself "The New T-101 FM". In 1980, the station became WKXW, under its new owner Fidelity Communications. It was playing a hot adult contemporary format as "The All New Kix 101 & A 1/2 FM" and later "Kix 101.5". By the late 80s, the station evolved into more of a gold based adult contemporary format. Its weekend Saturday oldies show evolved into an all oldies format from the 50's through early 70s on overnights and weekends before the change to its current weekday talk format, which came in 1990 when it was sold to Press Communications. The sale to Millennium Radio Group took place in 2001.
On March 1, 1990 at 5pm, “New Jersey 101.5”, conceived by Sabo Media CEO, Walter Sabo, became the first full-time FM Talk station in America targeted for a younger audience. Mark Sheppard, who later went to middays, kicked off the format playing Bill Haley & The Comets' "Rock Around The Clock".
Since the 1990's, the station has a talk and news format during the week, with oldies music on the overnights and weekend. Initially, the oldies format was 60's based with a few pre 64 oldies and a 70's oldie or two each hour. By the early to mid 90s, more 70's music was added and by the early 2000s, 80's music from 1980-1982 was added occasionally. Between 2000 and 2005, music from between 1986 and 1989 was added to the lineups. Gradually, at the same time, songs from 1964 and older were gradually reduced in the late 90s and gone by 2000. In September 2007, "60s" was removed from the "60s, 70s, and 80s" week end music programming ID, and nearly all '60s music had been removed from the play list. However, in May 2012, "60s" was added back to the weekend music programming ID, coinciding with a limited but steady increase in music airplay focusing on select titles by well-known artists.
In the mid to late 1990s, music was ended on weekday overnights and now airs strictly on weekends and maybe some holidays.
The station has, at times, provided a simulcast on various AM and FM stations in the Atlantic City area, beyond the reach of its main transmitter. The most recent simulcast ceased in June 2009 when then-WXKW changed formats to ESPN Sports Radio.
New Jersey-centric branding
The station has strongly branded its New Jersey-ness, with its announcers frequently self-identifying "New Jersey 101.5" and with its bumper message intoning "Not New York. Not Philadelphia. Proud to be New Jersey!", as well as its branded New Jersey Fast Traffic and New Jersey Instant Weather. The New Jersey-centric nature of the station is emphasized in the traffic reports, in that they refer to traffic direction on bridges and tunnels as "entering New Jersey" or "leaving New Jersey" instead of the more traditional designations of "into the city" or "out of the city". As well, current temperatures of different samples of towns in New Jersey are given after the weather reports. Despite the station's branding, the 101.5 signal does not reach the majority of Cape May, Salem and Sussex Counties while the signal's coverage of Atlantic, Bergen & Cumberland Counties is poor at best.
The way WKXW has been able to maintain a strong listener base can be attributed to several factors, including:
- Radio stations in New York City and Philadelphia tend to only mention New Jersey issues, news, politics, etc. in short regional rundowns outside of the most high-profile stories, if at all (for instance, state weather is mentioned by some New York and Philadelphia stations under the vague terms "The Beaches" or "The Jersey Shore" without delineation of location for those observations). For decades the station was the highest cuming FM Talk station measured, according to Arbitron/Nielsen Media.
- New Jersey has only two English speaking commercial television stations: Secaucus-licensed WWOR-TV (channel 9) and Wildwood-licensed Sonlife affiliate WMGM-TV (channel 40), an NBC affiliate until the start of 2015 (carrying Sonlife programming, that station is effectively non-commercial). Both stations no longer have news departments or local newscasts. WMGM-TV covers the outer fringes of the Delaware Valley and Philadelphia, while WWOR-TV primarily serves the New York Tri-State Area. On July 2, 2013, traditional newscasts (which were nominally focused on New Jersey issues) on WWOR were discontinued for an outside produced interview program called Chasing New Jersey, which later took on a generic social media focus under the title Chasing News with only a vague focus on New Jerseyan issues. WMGM-TV ended their NBC affiliation on January 1, 2015 due to NBCUniversal parent Comcast exercising territorial exclusivity for the Philadelphia/Atlantic City market with their O&O WCAU. The news department was also terminated, though it remains under contract to the owners which sold off the station license, and they may relaunch it on another station. PBS member network NJTV is the only remaining television operation with a New Jersey-focused newscast, but was converted to private ownership from state backing in July 2011 under Chris Christie's campaign promises to cut state expenses, and is currently operated by WNET.org out of New York (although Ironically Licensed to Newark, NJ), which also airs the NJTV newscasts on WNET itself for Northern New Jersey. Smaller Independent Stations such as WMBC-TV and WACP also have news casts to serve local audiences of Northern and Southern New Jersey, respectively.
Townsquare News Network
The station is the flagship broadcasting arm of the Townsquare New Jersey News Network as heard on twelve radio stations throughout the state. The network consists of WOBM-FM in Toms River, WOBM-AM in Lakewood, WCHR-FM in Manahawkin, WJLK-FM in Asbury Park, WADB-AM in Tinton Falls, WFPG-FM in Atlantic City, WSJO-FM in Egg Harbor City, WPUR-FM in Atlantic City, and WENJ in Atlantic City. Various bureaus throughout the state share stories with the Ewing headquarters.
The station's proprietary format was created in 1990. It was brainchild of Sabo Media CEO Walter Sabo. Sabo, a former NBC and ABC exec, branded the station, built its revolutionary approach to call-in radio and gave the station its unique, pro-Jersey point of view. His initiatives were carried out by Jay Sorensen and Perry Michael Simon. Sabo credits Press Broadcasting chief Bob McAllan and then-GM John Dziuba for their courage in implementing a new, controversial format. Subsequent program directors include Leigh Jacobs (now at NuVooDoo Media Services) and Eric Johnson.
Sorensen moved to concentrate on on-air duties and later left to do talk shows in Philadelphia and Dallas (and now does weekend on WCBS-FM in New York); Simon (later at KLSX and Y-107 Los Angeles, now a consultant, writer, and editor at AllAccess.com) moved into the PD slot from his corporate position, then left in 1994, replaced as program director by Leigh Jacobs; after Jacobs left, Eric Johnson took over and is the current Brand Manager.
- Eric Scott - host of the early morning news show New Jersey’s First News With Eric Scott as well as the monthly "Ask the Governor".
- Bill Spadea - host of the morning show; took over hosting duties from the original host, Jim Gearhart, in December 2015.
- Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco - hosts of the mid-day show, The Dennis & Judi Show, which mixes a variety of topics from New Jersey politics the mundane, irreverent issues; the show first aired in 1997.
- Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle - hosts of The Deminski and Doyle Show which returned on July 5, 2011 after leaving for the Detroit market in 1999.
- Steve Trevelise - host of the evening show, a mix of comedy and current events.
- Joe Henry - host of the weekend music variety show, showcasing a mix of oldies retro and more modern music.
Notable radio personalities who have worked at the station include:
- Philadelphia radio Hall of Famer Hy Lit and his son Sam Lit, who anchored the air staff in the early 80s
- John and Ken (John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, now at KFI Los Angeles),
- Scott and Casey (Scott Hasick, currently at WMVN/WARH St. Louis)
- Tommy G (named to Talkers Magazine Frontier 50)
- Paul "PJ" Cunningham worked on-air at KIX 101 1/2 from 1987-1989. Has been host of The Bender Nation morning show on KBKS-FM in Seattle since 2001.
- Jeff McKay - traffic reporter
- Two incarnations of the Jersey Guys, first with Craig Carton and Ray Rossi (in summer 2002) and second (in summer 2007) with Casey Bartholomew and Ray Rossi: