News

Major League Baseball Backs New Indie 'Landline'

5 hours ago
Freestyle Digital Media

For all of Bruce Fretts' career, he has been writing about the entertainment industry, but for the first time in his life he will become apart of it. 

Landline, an independent film, that premieres April 4th, on Video On Demand, was written, directed, produced and stars Matthew Aaron. This will be Aaron's third independent film since 2015, but his first that has included a role for Fretts.

The National Black Writers Conference / The Center for Black Literature

In 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection ‘Annie Allen’.  This year’s National Black Writers Conference in New York aims to shed light on Brooks, whose work is much deeper than what’s found in your average poetry anthology. 

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly could give final legislative approval tomorrow to a measure banning the state's public colleges from paying more than $10,000 to commencement and other speakers.

In recent years reality TV star Snookie, novelist Toni Morrison, and producer Spike Lee were among those paid more than that for speaking at New Jersey colleges.

Assemblyman John DiMaio questions whether that's the best use of college funds.

Alexandra Hill

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka delivered his third annual State Of The City address earlier this week. Baraka focused his speech on changing perceptions about New Jersey’s largest city, as a city plagued by violence and poverty, to a place of growth and innovation.

So far three of the candidates who want to be New Jersey's next Governor have raised enough money to qualify for matching funds.

After gubernatorial candidates meet the threshold of raising and spending $430,000 to qualify for the state program, they can get two dollars in public matching funds for every private dollar they raise.

There's a $4 million limit on public funds for a primary election campaign and a $9.3 million cap for the general election.

Jeff Brindle is executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Rutgers-Newark / The Institute of Jazz Studies

Respected jazz world personalities will be in Newark to celebrate Ella’s life and work. Tad Hershorn with the Institute of Jazz Studies Rutgers-Newark says a number of guests worked with the First Lady of Song.

“One is Richard Lyons of New York.  He was a west coast player when he was her musical director for three months in 1956.  Mike Wofford based in San Diego was her last accompanist for the remaining three years of her career,” said Hershorn.

Hershorn believes even the biggest fans will learn something new about her music.

Nonprofit group leaders attend event where Governor Christie announces the grant program.
Phil Gregory

The state of New Jersey is making a million dollars in grants available for non-profit and religious institutions in nine counties to improve their security.

Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Salem, and Warren counties have not been eligible for federal grants to enhance security.

Governor Christie says recent threats at Jewish Community Centers around the state show the need to protect every area vulnerable to possible attacks.

Governor's office entrance
Phil Gregory

Former Saturday Night Live comedian Joe Piscopo says he won’t be a Republican candidate, but he could run as an independent in New Jersey's race for Governor.

Political analysts aren't giving him much chance to win.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley says it's nearly impossible for independent candidates to do well in New Jersey elections because they don't have the party organization or money to attract support.

Women in Media - Newark
Pamela Morgan

Women in Media-Newark will hold its eighth annual International Film Festival March 28th through April 6th in celebration of Women’s History Month. Working in conjunction with Rutgers University–Newark, its major partner, Pamela Morgan's WIM-N will host the film festival over nine days at six venues. All events are free and open to the public.  Two of the film makers came to WBGO to talk about the festival and their respective projects.

Mike Egenton and Sara Bluhm oppose the legislation.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are trying again to get the state back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Governor Christie pulled the state out of the program in 2011, saying it was an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. He vetoed previous bills to force the state to resume participation.

Sara Bluhm with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association told lawmakers the state doesn't need to get back in.

Senator Dick Codey uses a smart thermostat to control the temperature in his home.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering several bills to encourage homeowners to use smart thermostats that allow homeowners to adjust heating and cooling through an app on their phones.

One of the measures urges the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to set a goal of equipping half a million homes with smart thermostats by the year 2023.

Kenneth Esser with Public Service Electric and Gas says those devices could help customers save money.

“We’re estimating it will provide about a 13 percent energy savings on heating bills and 16 percent on cooling bills.”

Pulitzer-Prize winning New York City newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin died Sunday morning from complications of pneumonia. He was 88 years old, and his death was confirmed by his physician, William Cole.

Breslin was the tabloid voice of the little guy, famous for celebrating gritty New York City characters in newspaper columns, as well as several books of fiction and non-fiction, Often these characters lived in the less glamorous boroughs outside Manhattan. But Breslin was also a character in his own right.

Willie Reale
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Willie Reale is the Co-Executive producer of Billions, the Showtime hit series on Wall Street chicanery, and the former supervising producer of Blue Bloods, the CBS cops drama. He won an Academy Award nomination for writing the lyrics to the movie, Dream Girls.

Reale’s 52nd Street Project that created theater projects for inner city children won him a MacArthur Fellowship.

Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak
Phil Gregory

Legislation proposed by some New Jersey lawmakers would replace roadside memorials for fatal car crash victims with state-approved signs.

The bill that’s awaiting action in the legislature would require family members to apply to the Department of Transportation for a sign with information about the victim that would be erected at the crash site.

Assemblyman Bruce Land says the displays family members put up can be a safety hazard.

Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak
Phil Gregory

Convicted criminals can't serve on New Jersey school boards. Now lawmakers want to prevent them from getting on the ballot in the first place.

Assemblyman Jay Webber says his bill would require school board candidates to certify when they file their nominating petitions that they have no criminal record that would make them ineligible to hold the office.

Newark Today

Mar 17, 2017

On this months edition of Newark Today we are joined by Mayor Ras Baraka and Archange Antoine, Executive Director of immigrant advocacy group Faith in NJ, to talk about the debate over immigration and how it is affecting sanctuary cities like Newark. 

Lawmakers and advocates urge more funding for testing and remediation.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey is being urged to do more to reduce lead levels in schools and homes.

Environment New Jersey gives the state a grade of C-minus for its efforts to deal with the lead problem.

The group’s director Doug O’Malley says New Jersey’s rating is better than many other states because it acknowledges it has a lead problem and is testing the drinking water in schools.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer
Phil Gregory

New Jersey's Assembly has approved a measure to add another exclusion to the state law that puts a 2 percent cap on local property tax increases.

The law already allows towns to exceed the cap to raise revenue for pensions, health care, debt, and emergencies.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer says the measure he sponsored would include an exemption for the matching funds towns must provide to get state and federal grants.

Assembly Budget Committee holds first of several hearings on the proposed budget.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are holding hearings on Governor Christie's proposed budget.

Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer  believes lawmakers will tweak Christie's $3.5 billion spending plan.

"Our involvement is critical in terms of honing the budget. Some funds could be found here to cut. Some funds could be found here to expand."

Declan O'Scanlon is the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. He says even if good ideas come up at the hearings, they'll be hard to fund because of the state's pension and health benefit obligations.

Three months before New Jersey’s primary election, a new poll shows that many residents are unsure about who they want to replace Governor Chris Christie.

23 percent of registered Democrats surveyed in a Quinnipiac University poll say they plan to vote for former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy in the primary. All the other Democrats in the race have single digit support.

On the Republican side Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno (gwah-DON-no) leads with 28 percent, a 10 point advantage over comedian Joe Piscopo who has not declared his candidacy.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Ella, Ella: A Centennial Celebration of Mama Jazz the latest installment of the Schomburg Center’s annual Women’s Month events.  Novella Ford is the manager of public programs at Schomburg.  She says it’s all about making sure that people leave informed.

Senator Gerald Cardinale
Phil Gregory

Donating blood or organs could get you a tax break in New Jersey.

Senator Gerald Cardinale is sponsoring legislation that would allow New Jersey taxpayers who donate blood at least four times a year to get a $100 state income tax credit.

“We need people to give blood. We should encourage it. People can give blood several times a year if they’re healthy. So, we thought good idea. Let’s create an incentive for people to do that.”

New Jersey could become the first state to offer a tax incentive to organ donors.

Senator Ron Rice
Phil Gregory

New Jersey has an old law banning students from bringing pagers to school without written permission from the school board.

Lawmakers are moving to repeal it.

Senator Ron Rice was the sponsor of the 1989 law that he says has outlived its usefulness.

“We were at a time when you didn’t have cellphones and all the text messages and things like that. So, the pager was really used by drug dealers to take advantage of kids to be their street runners and their salespeople, and they were disturbing the schools.”

The Modern Side of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor

Mar 13, 2017
Merry Wives of Windsor
Two River Theater

Featuring only three actors—Nicole Lewis, Jason O’Connell, and Zuzanna Szadkowski—this production of The Merry Wives of Windsor explores the darker undercurrent of one of Shakespeare’s silliest comedies. In the play, the lecherous buffoon John Falstaff decides to seduce both Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, respectable married women of Windsor. When the two women immediately see through Falstaff’s plot, they decide to turn the tables on him and devise a plot of their own.

Senator Ron Rice
Phil Gregory

Every student in every class should have a textbook, according to legislation approved by the New Jersey Senate.

Senator Ron Rice is the primary sponsor of the measure.  He says students shouldn't have to share a textbook.

"You need those books to do homework. You need the books to get the home support for education. In urban communities, particularly where you have the majority of minorities and immigrant population, there's no reinforcement of what takes place in the learning process in school in many cases."

food in trash can
United States Department of Agriculture

A package of bills advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee aims to reduce food waste and help ease hunger.

The legislation calls for an income tax break for businesses that give food to charitable organizations and liability protection for schools that donate edible items.

Paul Jensen with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen says that would help food pantries.

Coach Christiansen
Berkeley College Athletics for WBGO

The Berkeley College Men's Basketball team in New York City won 53 games in a row to claim it's third consecutive USCAA Division 2 Championship.  Berkeley defeated Penn State-York 80-76 in overtime to grab the title.

Coach Chris Christensen sat down on the bench when it appeared their opponents only had to make a free throw to win the championship game.  It was the first time the coach had taken a seat the entire contest.  He says divine intervention may have led to another victory:

Ang Santos / WBGO

The city of Newark openly invites every resident to take a ten to fifteen-minute paper survey of questions addressing their thoughts on Newark-police community relationships, based on personal experiences.  The site in central ward felt sort of like a school testing area, but the participants didn’t fill out their questionnaires in silence.  Many were openly voicing their support for the federal monitor over the Newark Police Department.

Workers install solar panels at project being constructed at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown.
Phil Gregory

Nationwide employment in the solar industry increased 25 percent last year, but solar employment in New Jersey fell 15 percent. There are still plenty of projects underway in the Garden State, but a slowdown may be on the way.

You can see solar panels on many rooftops, utility poles, and in fields in New Jersey.

There are 66,000 solar installations in the state that generate 2 gigawatts of electricity.

And more are being put up.

John W. Kennedy
Doug Doyle for WBGO

The head of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, John W. Kennedy, came from a family who tinkered and gave back. Kennedy is doing just that as he leads NJMEP, a not-for-profit that helps the state's manufacturers become more profitable:

“Manufacturing seems to be on an upswing in many ways, because people are talking about it. But it needs the support to exist and to grow.”

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