This past year, I was re-elected co-chair of the Long Branch Cable TV Commission. In addition to my duties as co-chair, I also produce “Community Connections”, the public affairs talk show that tapes at Monmouth University, is hosted by Adam Schneider (the Mayor of Long Branch), and airs on LBCTV20, Long Branch’s public access channel. I’ve been producing “CC” for almost six years now, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be doing something that I love to do – something that I studied in college – even if it is only on a volunteer basis.
“Community Connections” originated close to ten years ago to help promote community service/public service groups that operate in and around the city, as well as identify public officials and what their role is in the city’s affairs. Occasionally, the show delves into topics such as local and mass media and its influence, local sports, and interviews with politicians who serve Long Branch higher than the municipal level.
One of the most interesting personalities that has been on the show was Long Branch resident Judi Franco. Judi is one-half of “The Dennis & Judi Show”, broadcasting weekdays from 10AM – 2PM on radio station NJ 101.5.
About a year prior to the taping, I was reviewing old shows in our tape library and noticed one with Judi on it from about 2 years prior. It was during a time when she had left radio to take care of some personal matters at home, and she was doing other things to supplement her family -- producing podcasts, and writing a children’s play called “Judi and the Jolly Beans” which starred her and her daughters. Her situation got me to thinking – what if we did a show to update everyone on what Judi Franco was up to now?
As it turned out, when we finally got together and made arrangements for the taping, she had returned to her old show with Dennis Malloy about three months prior, so it looked like she would have a lot to talk about.
She got to the studio on the day of the taping, and I took her aside just to give her a rundown on what topics would be discussed prior to the show taping. At one point during the conversation, she asked me if my uncle was the judge in Long Branch. When I answered in the affirmative, she proceeded to tell me the story about when she was working at radio station Y107 in Long Branch several years ago, and how she called my uncle up and got him to perform a wedding ceremony live on-the-air. We continued to shoot the breeze for a few more minutes, discovering that we both had a lot of mutual friends around town, plus the fact that our daughters both attended the same Gymboree class in Ocean Township close to 20 years earlier.
A few minutes later, Adam showed up, and we began taping the show. Judi’s on-air persona and experience showed as she kept the interview moving with her snappy and well thought-out answers to Adam’s questions. She impersonated her father and talked about her experiences in radio, as well as her thoughts on where radio was going in the future – it was a really great interview. Before we knew it, the half hour came and went. She did such a good job that the crew in the control room, all made up of Monmouth University communications majors, was hoping that she’d stick around and shoot the breeze with them -- she was that interesting. The show aired about 2-3 weeks after the taping and got great feedback from our viewers.
Judi and I still stay in touch, but infrequently. I saw her, her husband Marc, and son Joe in the Monmouth Mall about two months after the show aired. I told her we’d be in touch for a follow-up show, maybe in about a year or so.
It’s people like Judi who make life behind the camera so interesting, and makes Long Branch a fascinating place.
(You can also follow Kevin Cieri’s blog on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter [@jsretro]).