Alumnus rocks around the clock to 1950s WSOU

A Seton Hall alumnus discussed his memories of working for WSOU in the late 1950s with The Setonian.

The alum, Joe Reilly, graduated from the University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. Reilly said he chose SHU because he wanted to be close to New York City, be part of the radio station and attend a Catholic university.

Reilly said he immersed himself in everything he could while he was a student at SHU. He said he had his own show on WSOU for two hours a day, where he did play-by-plays for the University’s baseball games.

Photo courtesy of Joe Reilly

Reilly also formed a rock group, The Belvederes, and released a record. The record was taped in the WSOU studios, and then was taken to New York City to be released.

Reilly said he has loved broadcasting for as long as he can remember. He said he recalls attending baseball games when he was a young child, cutting the bottom off of the popcorn can and using the can as a megaphone to broadcast the games.

Reilley added that while at SHU, he would take the names of the managers of big-name celebrities and then wiggle himself into interviews with them. He said he would tell the managers he was from WSOU, a radio station that covers New Jersey and New York, and land his interviews. “I had more nerve than brains,” Reilly said.

After he graduated from SHU, Reilly went to New York City to find a job and was “laughed out” of a popular radio station. When he was asked what he could do, the radio station’s program director told him to start at a local station in small-town USA.

After that, Reilly said he got a job at a little African American radio station in Maryland where he was the only white broadcaster. He said he learned a lot there, and owed them for giving him a chance. He said he then worked at a radio station in Plainfield, New Jersey, for about 10 years.

Later in his life, Reilly served as the president of the New York State Broadcasters Association for 31 years. Reilly said in this role, his job was to protect the rights and interests of New York broadcasters; they focused on issues such as cameras and microphones in courtrooms and getting the sales tax removed on broadcasting equipment.

Reilly said the impact SHU had on his success and confidence is enormous. “I owe a great deal of who I am in life to my four years at Seton Hall,” he said.

Reilly advised current students to observe, learn and pick brains. He added that students should not worry about money, and if they are good and happy at what they do, the money will follow. “Plan your work, and work your plan,” he said.

Nora Rahaim, director of gift planning and major gifts, said she has been in contact with Reilly for nearly three years. Rahaim said she and Reilly email periodically, and they try to get together about twice a year. She said he fills her in on his time at SHU, tells her about the radio stations he has been involved with and other activities going on in his life.

Rahaim said Reilly is a big supporter of Seton Hall and has already made a planned gift to the University.

“He’s what we epitomize as a wonderful alum; one who’s active, involved in reading what we’re up to, interested in the direction of the university and financially supports us,” Rahaim said.

Veronica Gaspa can be reached at veronica.gaspa@student.shu.edu.

Author: Veronica Gaspa

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