“When people say, ‘I grew up listening to you,’ ” says Dennis Elsas, “I say, ‘Well, I grew up listening to me, too.’ ”
What Elsas, a DJ who works at WFUV (90.7 FM) and Sirius XM satellite radio, means, basically, is that he’s been on the radio since he was in college, more than four decades ago. For most of those years, he was WNEW-FM, where he joined the staff in 1971 and stayed until the mid-’90s. During much of that time, it was the most important rock radio station in New York and, one could argue, the country.
Nov. 1 at 7 p.m., he will present a talk and audiovisual show at the Montclair Art Museum called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets.”
“There are highlights from my interviews with John Lennon and Elton John and Jerry Garcia and Pete Townshend,” says Elsas, who lives in Westchester, N.Y. “But it also goes from the perspective of growing up with Top 40 radio, and the guys — and I say ‘guys’ because there were no women on the air in those days — I grew up listening to. So you’ll get a little overview of the scene in New York in the 1960s, with WABC, WMCA and WINS, and then how that transitions to FM. ‘Cause I’m in college as that whole thing is changing. So I’m part of that early FM revolution, and then get lucky enough to be working at ‘NEW: I’m there for the glory days, when all these people came by who I got to meet.”
This will be the first time he is presenting “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets” in New Jersey, and while he is not adding any Jersey content for the occasion, the show does cover Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Also, of course, New Jersey played a large part in WNEW history, via its Asbury Park beach parties, broadcasts from the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, etc.
“There is most definitely a Jersey component to the show,” he says. “This is a show that I’ve been wanting to do in New Jersey for the longest time, but the right opportunity just wasn’t there, and when the folks at the Montclair Art Museum said, ‘It’s a little different than what we usually do, but we think it might be fun,’ I went, ‘Okay.’ ”
Tickets are $15 (12 for museum members); visit montclairartmuseum.org.