News

Nearly 300 candidates are competing for a chance to run for the New Jersey legislature in the June Primary.

The 192 Assembly candidates are the most since 2001. The 88 seeking a Senate seat is the highest since 2003.

Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale says five Senators are retiring or seeking higher office.

"So you're seeing a lot of people want to take that shot because they're not sure when it's going to come around again."

Be prepared to pay more for gasoline.

The average price is 3 cents higher than a week ago.

Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey, expects it'll keep going up.

"I don't want to alarm people, but this will be a month probably unlikely any month they've seen in the last 15 months in that you're probably going to see prices increase by 15 or 20 cents a gallon and it may even follow through into a strong May as well."

Phil Murphy arrives at NJ Division of Elections
Phil Gregory

Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy has filed a record 43,000 petitions to get on the June primary ballot as a Democratic contender for Governor of New Jersey.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley says Murphy is the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination.

"He's trying a bit of shock and awe, I think, trying to demonstrate to anybody who might come out and offer in particular financial support to his competitors, that it is futile."

Bethany Jacobson

If you’re into New York City settings, mixed with the happenings of a struggling uptown neurotic, bedded to an original jazz score, then Hotel Bleu is a short flick for you.  It’s film maker Bethany Jacobson’s first dive into a full on writer, producer, director role.

“New York can be so many things in cinema.  It’s a challenge to make it something that we haven’t seen before in terms of the feeling of it.  I think I wanted through these characters to show a little bit of the feeling of the old and the new mixed together,” Jacobson told WBGO.

Monday is the filing deadline for candidates who want to run in New Jersey's June primary.

Political analysts expect a battle to get the Republican nomination for Governor.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno has won the endorsement of GOP organizations in 10 counties to get favorable placement on the primary ballot and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli will have that coveted designation in 7 counties.

You may have noticed the effects on outdoor plants. We've had some unusual weather in the area.

State climatologist Dave Robinson says it's only the third time, since record keeping started 123 years ago, that average temperatures in New Jersey in March were lower than February.

"It was record breaking warmth in February and March temperatures that are just about two degrees below average. For the first time all winter we had the jet stream deliver some cold air to us here in the east."

The December through February period was the 11th driest on record.

Linda
Manhattan Theatre Club

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Linda and How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.

Click above to hear his thoughts on the shows.

A company in Wall Township New Jersey makes a product they hope you’ll never need. But it could save your life.

(Worker announces “safety pins removed,  pressure is good. Alarms sound. Three, two, one. Sounds of evacuation slide unfolding)

That’s what it sounds like when an inflatable escape slide used on commercial airplanes is deployed during a test at the Zodiac Aerospace factory.

The company in Wall sells 65 percent of the evacuation slides put into new planes. Their products were also in the movie ‘Sully’.

A New Jersey lawmaker is calling on legislative leaders to move ahead with vacation and sick leave reforms.

Senator Jennifer Beck says New Jersey property owners have a nearly $2 billion property tax obligation hanging over their heads in terms of unused sick and vacation time accumulated by municipal and school employees.

She says some of those workers are retiring with half a million dollars or more in unused sick and vacation time.

A Democrat in the race for Governor of New Jersey has filed a complaint with state Election Law Enforcement Commission against the front-runner in the race.

Jim Johnson claims former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy, also a Democrat, violated state election law by using non-profit social welfare and political groups he set up before entering the race to avoid disclosing some contributions and expenditures.

Few Really Knew Ella Fitzgerald

Mar 30, 2017
Ang Santos / WBGO

You wouldn’t think a singer who was doing close to 300 shows a year at their peak would be nervous each time the curtains rose. Archivist Tad Hershorn with The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark says that was the case for Ella Fitzgerald.

“She was always nervous before she went on stage as we are about any type of life experience we might even have a certain handle on.  But when that music started, there she was, it was like watching your grandmother turn into Superwoman,” Hershorn said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he's honored President Trump has selected him to chair a commission focused on combatting the nation's opioid addiction crisis.

The President called Christie a very effective guy when he met with him at the White House to kick off the commission.

In a Fox News interview, Christie said it's an issue he and Trump care passionately about.

A Monmouth University poll finds most Americans believe fake news is widespread, but they have more confidence in the media than the information that comes from President Trump.

Poll director Patrick Murray says the public feels there's fake news everywhere.

"80 percent say that news websites online will report fake news, and about 63 percent say that our traditional sources like TV and newspapers will from time to time report fake news. In most cases they say when they do it, it's to push an agenda."

Many of the workers at Zodiac Aerospace have taken the training.
Phil Gregory

State officials, community college and business representatives in New Jersey gathered at an aerospace equipment company in Wall Township to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a workforce training program.

Carolina Diaz took the basic skills course when she starting work at Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems ten years ago. She's now a quality control inspector at the company that makes inflatable escape slides for commercial aircraft.

Governor Christie signs the legislation at laborers union hall in Trenton
Phil Gregory

Just days after it received final legislative approval, a measure providing $400 million in gas tax revenues for transportation improvements this year has gotten Governor Chris Christie's OK.

Workers at the International Laborers Union hall in Trenton cheered as Christie signed the legislation designating $260 million for road and bridge repairs throughout the state.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto
Phil Gregory

Leading Democrats in the New Jersey legislature are thankful that Republicans in Congress were unable to muster the votes on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto is relieved there won't be a change in federal funding for Medicaid.

"It's a great win for New Jersey. 500,000 residents have taken advantage of Medicaid expansion. Those people would have lost coverage. We couldn't afford to keep that. The state would have had to pick up the slack if they wanted to."

Bad Jews
George Street Playhouse for WBGO

Two of the stars of the George Street Playhouse production of Bad Jews are newcomers to the theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Alec Silberblatt and Amos VanderPoel also sat down with WBGO's Doug Doyle to talk about the show. 

The smash hit comedy Bad Jews is making its New Jersey premiere, directed by Jessica Stone.

Ang Santos / WBGO

It’s been over two months since Cardinal Joseph Tobin arrived in Newark. 

“It’s been wonderful, it’s challenging, it’s a bit like drinking from the firehose every day, but I’m happy to be here,” Tobin told WBGO.

The former Archbishop of Indianapolis says he’s still adjusting to life in Newark.  He admits he’s yet to visit the great landmarks and eateries nearby, but he makes time for one of his favorite hobbies.

Ang Santos / WBGO

During a 1963 poetry reading, Gwendolyn Brooks acknowledges a lack of recognition for her large body of work.

“I guess I better offer you ‘We Real Cool’. Most young people know me only by that poem,” Brooks said.  “But I would prefer it if the textbook compilers and the anthologists would assume that I’d written a few other poems.”

Fast forward fifty plus years, Dr. Brenda Greene from The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College says not much has changed.

Applause for "Come From Away" & "Significant Other"

Mar 24, 2017
Come From Away
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews the new musical Come From Away and the new play Significant Other.

Click above to hear Michael's thoughts on the two shows.

Should New York Raise the Age for Child Marriages?

Mar 24, 2017
Safia Mahjebin
Topher Forhecz for WBGO

The New York State legislature is considering raising the legal age of marriage from as young as 14-years-old to 17-years-old. Advocates say child marriages are forced and can lead to abuse.    Safia Mahjebin grew up in a Bangladeshi community in Brooklyn… She says the idea of marriage was always there.

"As far as a child has a memory I can remember marriage being in the air. If anyone in the community wanted good for me, they would say I hope you marry a doctor. I hope he takes care of you." 

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

A bill passed by the New Jersey Assembly would require criminal background checks for family day care providers and any adult living there.

Day care facilities that receive federal subsidies already perform the background checks.

Cynthia Rice with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says the measure to extend that requirement to all registered day care providers in the state is a logical bill that will protect kids.

road closed sign
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has given final legislative approval to a measure that provides $400 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to expedite needed improvements.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto decided to post the bill for a vote after getting clarification that the $260 million that would be provided to the New Jersey Transportation Department would be used for  road and bridge repairs in all 21 of the state’s counties.

Kenny Baron, Paquito D’ Rivera, and Jimmy Heath headline the upcoming 7th Annual James Moody Jazz Scholarship of New Jersey benefit.

The James Moody Scholarship of New Jersey was born in paying tribute to the jazz great.  The scholarship is given to a college bound high school senior based on their grades, musical talent, and willingness to contribute to their community.  Linda Moody says without the help of friends and musicians; the scholarship wouldn’t be possible.  Jazz House Kids Founder Melissa Walker is one of them.

By the time trumpeter Lee Morgan was eighteen years old, he was a fully established talent on the jazz scene.  Touring with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band until they disbanded in 1958.  It didn’t take long for Lee Morgan to find more work, joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

“I had never heard anybody play trumpet like that before,” said Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin about Lee Morgan in an interview with WBGO.

Collin previously made a film about saxophonist Albert Ayler, explaining it was a taxing project that took many years to finish.

Lawmakers and homeowners say the measure would provide some relief for Sandy victims.
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to provide some protection for Superstorm Sandy victims told by the state they have to repay some grant money they received to rebuild.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora says residents acted in good faith when they accepted the grant money to rebuild from Sandy.

“They got undercut by their own insurance company and then they thought the government grants was a godsend. Unfortunately to find out the government, RREM, wants the money back. This is unconscionable.”

Major League Baseball Backs New Indie 'Landline'

Mar 23, 2017
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.

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