Straight White Men
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Straight White Men and Mike Birbiglia's The New One.  Can you guess which one Michael doesn't get?

Click above to hear his review.

Alexandra Hill / News

On this month's Newark Today host Michael Hill of NJTV News will be joined by Mayor Ras Baraka and Aisha Glover, President and CEO of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, to discuss the push to make Newark the city of choice for the next Amazon headquarters, a deal that could be worth billions in tax incentives and could bring tens of thousands of jobs. 

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

Aretha Franklin, who died on Thursday at 76, made an impression on all who heard her — but especially those who worked with her.

New Jersey Transit officials told lawmakers at a legislative hearing in Trenton that they’re taking steps to deal with train cancellations and delays that have angered commuters.

Executive director Kevin Corbett says NJ Transit has moved some of its personnel into a war-room atmosphere to improve communications with riders about train service disruptions.

New Jersey lawmakers are expected to grill NJ Transit officials at a hearing at the Statehouse tomorrow after riders have faced repeated train cancelations and delays in the past few weeks. 

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says Republicans intend to ask transit officials why customers didn’t get advance notice about cancellations.

“Where was the information for the commuters? Why weren’t they getting that information? Was it disorganization within New Jersey Transit? Was it simply they didn’t have the answers?”

Legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy creates the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology.

Murphy says the 17-member-panel replaces a science and technology commission that was defunded in 2010.

“We’re getting back to our core mission of making New Jersey the home for cutting edge research and innovation that improves and saves lives, creates good jobs, and changes our world for the better.”

Michael Johnson, the CEO of biotechology company Visikol in Whitehouse Station, is excited about the new commission. /

Anthony Ferraro was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease at a very young age. His quest to be just another kid, led by his supportive family, set the stage for A Shot In The Dark, a new film documenting Anthony’s run at a state championship.

“Listen, I grew up blind and never let that stop me.  I was denied to a school I was never able to go to.  I used wrestling as an outlet to grow and learn things about myself,” Ferraro said.

Kala for WBGO News

Imagine a crowd of young women and girls riding through your Newark street, in style.

I met the Girls on Bikes crew on a Newark First Friday. They had yellow bicycles, green bicycles, pink bicycles with the baskets in the front. They had helmets too tight for Afro-girls and almost right for the loose curls. They showed up ready to pedal their brown girl joy through the Newark streets all the way from Military to Weequahic Park. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Charles Richman with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency says the state is setting aside $1 million to provide counseling assistance to homeowners.

“That million dollars ought to carry us through 17 to 1,800 families,” Richman said.  “If you can get to mediation early, the amount of debt they may own is manageable.  If they wait for that whole process to cycle though, and it takes several years often, the debt is so high there’s no way to ameliorate it.  The key is the first 60 days.”

A bill signed into law by Governor Murphy expands the use of public-private partnerships to develop essential projects and grow the state’s economy.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says those partnerships helped colleges get private capital to build new facilities, and the bill he sponsored will give the state, county, and local governments more flexibility to advance critical infrastructure projects.

Flooding near Greenbriar senior community in Brick,NJ on Monday
Brick Police Department

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Murphy says the order allows the state to focus resources into communities most affected by recent flash flooding.

“The state is continuing to coordinate with county and local officials as well as volunteer organizations to meet the immediate needs of residents driven from their homes for shelter and emergency food and water.”

Leaders Create Leaders Live at the Grammy Museum

Aug 14, 2018
Leaders Create Leaders

Leaders Create Leaders, a business leadership podcast, just concluded its four part live miniseries, at the Grammy museum in Newark. Podcast production house ABF Creative and Prudential Financial teamed up with the show's creator, Gerard Adams, for four special episodes of Leaders Create Leaders.

A new strike force is bringing federal resources to the New Jersey/Philadelphia region to combat health care fraud.

Assistant U-S Attorney General Brian Benczkowski says the strike force has two purposes.

“To tackle increased waste fraud and abuse within our federal health care programs which cause the cost of Medicare and Medicaid to skyrocket. And second and perhaps more importantly to address the epidemic of prescription drug overdoses and opioid involved deaths ravaging communities across our country including here in New Jersey.”

Flooding in Neptune, New Jersey
Neptune Office of Emergency Management

High amounts of rain in a short amount of time are posing problems for motorists in many parts of the region.

New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says torrential downpours have led to localized flash flooding in all parts of the state over the last month.

“There are parts of Passaic and Morris County that have had 15 inches of rain in the last 28 days. Now to put that in perspective a four-week period anytime during the summer should average about four to four and a half inches of rain in New Jersey.”

Newark's 10-Year Cultural Plan Revealed

Aug 13, 2018
City of Newark

Newark’s major arts organization has unveiled a ten year plan for the city’s creative scene. According to Deputy Director Susan Schear, the plan, called Newark Creates, is sensitive to concerns about preserving the city’s culture.

“We want to make sure that we’re not repeating what has happened in different cultures or different locations, where the arts build up the community and then they are pushed out. So we are very consent and cautious about that and want to make sure that again, there is continuity and sustainability.”  

Twelfth Night
Michael Bourne for WBGO

"If music be the food of love, play on" is the opening line of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", and Theater Critic Michael Bourne loved what's playing on in Central Park.

A panel of economists and tax experts put together by the leader of the New Jersey Senate is recommending a variety of governmental changes to make the state more affordable.

The task force is suggesting new state and local public employees be shifted from the current defined benefit pension plan to a 401k-type plan and that all government workers get a less-expensive health care plan.

A new poll finds that New jersey residents are divided over the benefits of fluoridated water.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Dan Cassino says half of New Jersey's residents believe fluoride in drinking water is a good thing while 34 percent are not convinced.

Cassino says Just 15 percent of Garden State residents receive fluoridated water because most municipal water systems in New Jersey serve multiple communities and any of them can prevent fluoride from being added to the water.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Transit needs around 290 train engineers on a daily basis to run the operation. Department of Transportation commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti says the state-run agency is short on engineers.

“This is an organization ran on human capitol. I can have all of the brand-new cars I want, but if I don’t have engineers, it does not matter.  The record is very clear.  There was very little done to recruit engineers and train them in a timely fashion.  We are trying to make up for that today.”

Mark Di Ionno

Mark Di Ionno is a lifelong journalist who began his career as a sportswriter for the New York Post. Most people know him for his front page columns for The Star Ledger and

Di Ionno's second novel is titled Gods of Wood and Stone. It is published by Touchstone.  Mark Di Ionno is the latest guest on the award-winning podcast SportsJam with Doug Doyle.

In its annual review of state policies to prevent cancer and improve access to treatment, the American Cancer Society is giving New Jersey mixed reviews.

Marc Kaplan with the Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network gives the state good marks for enacting smoke-free laws and increased access to Medicaid.

“A lot of people that are suffering with cancer are in the disadvantaged area, so Medicaid is getting them the care that they deserve and that they need. While state appropriations for breast and cervical cancer screening, we are doing very well with that.”

The Monmouth Film Festival brings over 50 short and feature length films to Red Bank.  

“This is an experience. These are movies before they get onto Netflix or before they go to the Oscars,” said Nick Marchese, founder and president, Monmouth Film Festival.  “You get to talk to people.  I’m sure there’s times you go to a movie and say, ‘I wonder why they did that or maybe they should have done this.’  You get to talk to that filmmaker on the red carpet and basically break down the barriers between you and the storyteller.”

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is confident President Trump will sign the defense authorization act Congress approved that includes the creation of the first official military commendation to honor military working dogs and their handlers.

At the U.S War Dog Memorial in Holmdel, Menendez said he’s grateful the legislation he introduced two years ago will be signed to establish the Guardians of America Freedom Medal that recognizes the valor and achievement of military dogs.

A safety system that can automatically stop trains to prevent a collision could benefit New Jersey Transit commuters in the future, but it’s frustrating many of them in the meantime.

The transit agency cancelled 17 trains on six of its lines this morning. On its website, it said the service adjustments were needed to advance the installation of Positive Train Control.

Janna Chernetz, the Deputy Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, says New Jersey Transit needs to do a better job of informing customers about cancellations in a reasonable amount of time.

Renee Taylor
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne was super impressed by Renee Taylor's memoir performance of My Life on a Diet now playing Off-Broadway.

Click above to hear the review.

Bongiorno Productions for WBGO News

Illuminations: Short Films of Discovery is the latest work from Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno, the Emmy-nominated, award winning, husband and wife, social justice filmmakers from Newark.  The Bongiornos this week preview four of their short fiction films at Cinema505 in Montclair.

The four short fiction films ANGUISH, HEARING VOICES, GLASS WORKS and MOTHERLAND were all inspired by French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s acclaimed Illuminations.

NJ Department of Agriculture

Pennsylvania has been battling an invasive insect for the past four years. The Spotted Lanternfly has spread to New Jersey and a quarantine is now in effect in Warren, Hunterdon, and Mercer counties.

Joe Zoltowski with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says the Spotted Lanternfly is a threat to the state’s agriculture industry because it sucks the sap out of plants and secrets a sugary substance that causes a harmful mold to grow. 

A New Jersey bill to ban guns made from 3-D printers may become law before the end of the year.

Senator Richard Codey says the guns that can be created on a home printer bypass laws that require a background check.

“We want to not only ban the guns themselves, but even the plans. If you send the information to how to make these guns, that would be illegal. This is a different world we live in, and we got to react to it.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Newark Department of Public Safety is upgrading its fire vehicle fleet, while also preparing for future winter storms.  Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says the new trucks are a cost-effective investment in the city’s public safety and public works departments.

“Three custom 110-foot aerial ladder trucks, seven hazmat fire vehicles, eleven sanitation dump trucks, and nine street sweepers.  The sanitation trucks are equipped with snow plows in the front of them, thank god,” Baraka said.