CRANFORD, NJ – Bernie Wagenblast might not be a household name, but the lifetime Cranford resident’s voice is heard by hundreds of thousands of people everyday. Wagenblast is the announcer voice on many New York subway lines and throughout the Newark and JFK Airport AirTrain systems. But his thirty-five year announcer career started long before his voice echoed in subways and airports.
Born and raised in Cranford, Wagenblast knew by fourth grade that he wanted a career in radio, “While my friends were listening to the very popular WABC, I gravitated toward WNEW-AM because of the news format and DJ personalities; I even wrote a letter to them once that they read on air and that solidified the future in radio for me in my mind.”
After high school Wagenblast attended Seton Hall University where he majored in Communications and worked on the radio station, WSOU, that still exists today. He had many thrilling experiences during his tenure there that included the Jimmy Carter-Gerald Ford presidential election coverage and a trip to the White House.
Once graduating from college, Wagenblast took several jobs including one as an on-air/news anchor, for a small station in Indiana, where he served many roles. But it was when he returned to the East Coast in 1979 where he became part of the emerging “Shadow Traffic” comprehensive traffic news force that his voice would be heard on many stations around the tri-state area. Wagenblast even appeared in a promotional video:
Wagenblast reflects, “That was my big break job, I was on air in NYC, I was only 23 years old, and during the busiest times of day with the most amount of listeners, drive-time and rush hour, it was my dream.” The irony is that he got his dream job but incognito, as the network changed his name to “Jack Packard.” Wagenblast shared an instance when he flubbed his real name with his on air one, listen here to the actual report on WABC from 1980:
It was during his time with Shadow Traffic that Wagenblast would earn his stripes in the traffic arena and parlay it into a career in transportation communications. First working for the NYC DOT, then the Port Authority of NY/NJ and then at another emerging company, TransCommunications, which would lead into the early years of the Internet and digital media.
“I always liked being involved in something new and different, first Shadow Traffic and then the integration of digital media into traditional radio,” Wagenblast notes.
Fast-forward to today and Wagenblast is as busy as ever even though he refers to himself as “sort of retired.” He may be the busiest retired person ever, as he still writes a daily e-newsletter called Transportation Communications Newsletter, providing updates and information about all types of transportation (air, automobile, maritime) and can still be heard delivering traffic updates on Saturdays for 1010WINS and 101.5.
Along with these regular paying gigs, Wagenblast has two related side hobbies. He began a project on Pinterest called, “New Jersey 565 - Unique audio clips from each of New Jersey's 565 municipalities.” As you scroll through the images you’ll find interesting facts about municipalities all over NJ, through an audio collection. He has completed 150 so far via: https://www.pinterest.com/brwagenblast/new-jersey-565/
In addition, Wagenblast started Cranford Radio three years ago, merging his talents with the promotion of his hometown, he adds, “This was just something fun I wanted to do not as a business, but to give back and promote the wonderful town of Cranford, its people and businesses.” Listen here: https://cranfordradio.wordpress.com/
Wagenblast’s voice has kept the public informed for years and he still continues to live out his boyhood dream.