Centenary College’s WNTI radio station (91.9 FM) will begin a new era Thursday at noon, with programming from its new owner WXPN-FM. Many of the station’s familiar DJs, though, who will no longer be able to work there, will start broadcasting on Oct. 30 on an online version of the old radio station, WNTI.org. And to a celebrate, DJs and fans will gather in the parking lot outside the college’s Lackland Center, which houses the radio studio, at 5 p.m. that day.
John Kennedy of Lebanon-based Kennedy Event Services, which co-produces the annual WNTI Stage summer music festival, said he spoke with Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, president of the Hackettstown college, Wednesday morning.
“We had about a half hour conversation, and I conveyed to her my vision for the event, and she’s behind it 100 percent,” said Kennedy, who has worked not just on the WNTI Stage festival, but on other WNTI events over the last 10 years or so. “She thinks it’s a wonderful idea, so we can get past the hurt of everyone, and move into our mission, which is to launch the Internet station.”
Kennedy said that the event will be an hour-long celebration; it will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the DJs will be introduced to the crowd like rock stars. There will also be speakers and some live music, he said. It’s too early for the lineup to be confirmed, though Kennedy said Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens told him he’d be there. Those interested in performing can contact Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org, he said. (OCT. 21 UPDATE: Willie Nile will make an appearance at the event.)
“The thing that’s most magical about being involved with WNTI is we have hundreds, if not maybe over a thousand, people who will volunteer for almost anything we ask them,” said Kennedy. “They come up for the fund drive, they bake cookies. It’s truly a magical little thing out here.
“And what I realized is, I want to tell their story. That’s the mission behind the celebration: (To tell) why it means so much. People say, ‘Why are you so tied up with that station?’ And I say, ‘If you got involved, you’d understand what motivates us.’ I’ve made countless very dear friends over the years. We get together and do events. We work with all the local charities. It’s so deeply embedded into the community.”
The WNTI Stage festival is scheduled to take place again in 2016, by the way, with the dates (July 15-17) and a few of the acts (The Grand Slambovians, Slam Allen and Incendio) already confirmed. Visit WNTIStage.org.