Catching up with Big Jay Sorensen

By MAUREEN NEVIN DUFFY Correspondent March 30, 2008

We recently invited readers to send us names of DJs they once enjoyed but who have seemingly vanished into the ether. Sometimes, personalities reappear just as quickly on other stations, but with the frequent changes in station ownership and program formats, the prospect of finding a particular DJ has become less and less likely.

I can think of only one other industry in which personality and the consumer bond is as important, yet shrouded in secrecy hairdressing. If you've ever tried to locate your hairdresser after he or she has left the shop, you know that it would be easier to find someone in the witness protection program.

We've gotten a few names now of DJs who readers would like to trace. One reader wanted to know whatever happened to Big Jay Sorensen, who has worked for the former WNBC-AM and Sirius Satellite, had a show on WJRZ-FM (100.1) called "Big Jay and Anita." (Anita Bonita still is on from 5 to 10 a.m. on WJRZ.)

We located Sorensen, who lives in Toms River, through the help of Tom Taylor and www.Radio-Info.com. We suspected that we were in for a story because Sorensen's posting on the site from March 4 began: "I am the morning DJ at WOLDDDDDDD. Sad song. Never thought when it was a new recording that so MANY of us in this business would be cast aside like a used paper towel."

Sorensen, with 38 years in radio, told us: "I worked for Press Broadcasting starting in 1989, before we turned the former (WKXW) Kix FM 101.5 into New Jersey 101.5. I left there in 1996, along with my then partner Hilarie Barsky, who is now doing the radio version of "Good Morning America' on XM Satellite.

"We left 101.5 in a contract dispute. We were sued for alleged breach of contract, with them claiming that we didn't give adequate notice. We went back for another six months and the suit was dropped. But the animosity between me and the new Press Broadcasting had begun. I left again over another contract dispute, over money, in 1999.

"I'm not with 101.5 FM today because I haven't been asked, and there doesn't seem to be room at the moment. All of their people are under contract. I may not be what they need right now."

Sorensen went to WJRZ in early 2005, after leaving WCTC-AM (1450), one of its sister stations, following budget cuts there. Bonita was hired to be his co-host in 2006. Sorensen says that on January 12, 2007, he finished his show, only to be called back to the station in Manahawkin. He was then told that for budgetary reasons, he was being let go. Sorenson explains that the former morning DJ he replaced still was making his morning guy salary even though he'd been moved to evening spot at WJRZ. Typically, morning DJs earn more than evening talent.

Fans probably will find interesting Sorensen's other postings on Radio-Info.com, in which he says plenty about the state of radio today, including the importance of maintaining the integrity of content.

"Consolidation ruined the business," he says.

Until he returns to the air, Sorensen invites fans to visit him at www.bigjayandanita.com and to write him at BigJay66@comcast.net.

Maureen Nevin Duffy hosted "Asbury Radio The Radio Voice of Asbury Park," a weekly public affairs talk show at WYGG-FM, for more than six years. Send your ideas for Radio Somewhere or comments to AsburyRadio@aol.com or 3 Deal Lake Court, Asbury Park, NJ 07712.