It has been 55 years since NJIT’s radio station, WJTB, was initially founded and began broadcasting over the 550 AM frequency. At that time, WJTB was known as WNCE, reflecting the Newark College of Engineering and the students it served. The Newark College of Engineering and the New Jersey School of Architecture consolidated into the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1973. With that came a new callsign, initially appearing in 1978, reflecting Jersey Tech Broadcasting: WJTB.
The initial goal of WNCE was to give students interested in commercial broadcasting an opportunity to learn, experiment, and have fun with like-minded students. 55 years later, that goal remains the same but with many differences in how the station and its students accomplish those goals.
For starters, a deep dive through The Nucleus over the years reveals stacks of records that the station used to transmit manually. The remaining vinyl collection today is only a shadow of its former glory, reflecting the switch to digitally available music, which has significantly increased the WJTB’s discography. The studio no longer sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, or in the basement of the Campus Center, but on the fourth floor alongside the other University Serving Organizations at NJIT. Students walking into the office will find articles and awards earned by past members adorning the shelves and walls of the station alongside semi-permanent Halloween decorations. Nearby, members stream over the internet from the studio rather than broadcasting over AM or FM frequencies.
It’s currently unclear exactly when or why WJTB stopped broadcasting over 550 AM and switched to a digital stream online. Like the legend of the clock tower, nobody is quite sure of the reason behind the switch. However, it is known that WJTB has been streaming online since at least 2003 and running consistently since then with the help of generations of students continuing the decades-old tradition of college radio.
Getting back on the airwaves has always been discussed, but club president Balthazar Torres doesn’t think it’s necessary. “I’m fine with us not being on the air. Being on the radio waves isn’t what makes us a great station,” Torres said. “It’s the content our members put out and the students who have made this station great for the last 55 years.”
Like many clubs on campus, WJTB is finding their groove post-COVID-19. Coming back into the studio after months away meant the station and its crew needed to shake the dust off and fill their ranks. There are currently 16 shows scheduled throughout the week with a daily variety show from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Throughout the month of October, this show will focus on everything scary, paranormal and strange with rotating hosts, topics and genres. The variety show is open to any member with slots opening a week in advance, allowing students an opportunity to host a show without committing to a regular schedule. Students are also able to request a show of their own, learn more about broadcasting or just meet other students who love music. Students can offer weekly shows on just about anything.
“We do everything,” Torres said. “We’ve had students do shows from all genres, talk shows and even an on-air Dungeons & Dragons. The weirder, the better! Variety gives everybody something to listen to and everyone here is super accepting.”
All potential DJs get trained on how to use the studio, broadcast effectively and more. The club plans to offer future training on mixing, live events and industry tours of local stations. Members continue the trend started in the 1960s of introducing students to new music and new trends as well as giving everyone a place to express themselves. You’ll find WJTB on-campus hosting live events and parties. Their annual Halloween event will take place at the end of the month with more details coming online, on-air and at live events.
WJTB has been rocking the airwaves around Newark since 1966 and is now available to stream online at https://wjtb.njit.edu/stream. Students interested in helping with live events, hosting their own radio show or just learning more can attend meetings on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. or Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Campus Center. Interested students can find WJTB on Instagram as @wjtb_radio, Twitter as @wjtb, and Discord at https://discord.gg/A4mnU6UDxS.