'Ask Governor Murphy' Returns Tonight

Sep 4, 2019

WBGO, in collaboration with WNYC and WHYY, presents Ask Governor Murphy, a live call-in broadcast with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.  

The number to call is 844-677-9283, or on social media with #askgovmurphy.

Tonight at 7 p.m., on the latest edition of the show, Gov. Murphy will once again speak with WNYC’s Nancy Solomon about the tap water situation in Newark. The Governor emphasizes that it’s not just a local problem but a national crisis, with so many towns and cities using old lead pipes.

Drivers passing through New Jersey could have an easier time identifying nearby wineries under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The Viticulture Trail Sign Program will be an effort to boost the profile of the state’s growing wine industry by constructing more road signs that point motorists to nearby vineyards, many of which are in rural areas.

A handful of New Jersey high schools will push back their school day start times under a new pilot program administered by the state Department of Education.

Proponents of later start times argue that sleep deprivation makes high school students anxious, stressed, and less focused on classwork.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Jazzmeia Horn celebrates her new album with a concert at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, Sept. 9 — but before that, she and her band stopped by WBGO for a talk and performance on Singers Unlimited. 

Adam B. Smith / A.B.S. Productions

Ang Santos: Joining us on the WBGO Journal, we have Adam B. Smith of ABS Productions.  His short film The Path is screening on Saturday September 7thduring a block at the CityPlex 12 Theater as part of the 2019 Newark International Film Festival.  Thanks for being here.

Adam B. Smith: Thank you so much for having me.

AS: Is this your first time having a film accepted to a film festival?

Bill Steber

Bobby Rush is one of the last of the blues titans, especially from the Chicago scene of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Buddy Guy. (Buddy is 83. Bobby is 86.)

Molly Fichter for WBGO News

New Jersey residents in municipalities beyond Newark are raising concerns over elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. WBGO's Molly Fichter reports from neighboring Elizabeth, where some get their water from the same treatment plant that put Newark in a crisis.

Click above to hear Molly's full report.


SeaWall / A Life are two one-act plays on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre.  One stars  Tom Sturridge, while the other has Jake Gyllenhaal as its lone actor.


Theater critic Michael Bourne says they're more like two plays in one.


Click above to hear Michael's review.


New Jersey prison officials have agreed to transfer a transgender woman from a men’s prison to the state’s only all-female correctional facility, her attorneys said Thursday.

The woman, called by the pseudonym Sonia Doe, alleged in a lawsuit that she was harassed and assaulted for being transgender during the 17 months she spent in four different men’s prisons across the state.

“She’s been subjected to extreme harassment, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis,” said Jeanne LoCicero, legal director for the ACLU of New Jersey and one of Doe’s attorneys.

Kim Fox

Luciana Souza has one wish for humanity in a troubled time: “That we all can make a difference in every way that we live.”

Souza is a singer-songwriter originally from São Paolo, Brazil, and her words carry a certain tragic resonance as the world watches the Amazon rainforest burn. But she spoke those sobering words last March, on The Checkout Live at Berklee College of Music, right before paying homage to her country’s all-time greatest songwriter, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

New Jersey will become the latest state to implement a “red flag” law that allows residents to report family or household members who own a gun and might be a threat to the public or themselves.

More states have been relying on such laws in an attempt to prevent gun deaths by allowing people to tell law enforcement about warning signs of potential violence.

There’s no taking pianist Orrin Evans out of his comfort zone. He’s just so musically articulate. Consider all the music he’s made with a trio, with his Captain Black Big Band, with Tar Baby, with The Bad Plus — or an upcoming duet recording with a longtime Philadelphia buddy, guitarist Kevin Eubanks.

New Jersey lawmakers want to provide state money to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers who have abandoned some of their federal funding.

The organizations gave up the federal money after the Trump administration imposed a new rule on recipients of Title X funding that blocked them from referring women to abortion providers.

Health care organizations including Planned Parenthood said they would rather forego federal funding than withhold medical information from their patients.

Yossi Zwecker

Michael Brecker saw plenty of accolades in his time. Hailed as the preeminent saxophonist of his generation, he won 15 Grammy awards, and played on a number of hit songs. He was inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame in 2007, the year he died of a rare form of leukemia at 57. But Brecker never had the chance to prevail in an organized international competition, like the one that now bears his name.

The New Jersey Senate passed a bill Monday that aims to clear up some confusion about the state’s new vote-by-mail law and provide funding to implement it in the November general election.

The state Assembly has scheduled a Tuesday vote. A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he intends to sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The City of Newark already began replacing water service lines made of lead earlier this year through a $75 million bond taken out in March.  Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo says the additional $120 million fast tracks a long-term solution.

“This will allow them to ramp up the program and reduce the time it takes to change every pipe to 24 to 30 months instead of a decade,” he said.

Mayor Ras Baraka says roughly 18,000 Newark homes have lead service lines.  

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed a bill that would have allowed cities and towns to install digital parking meters, which use software to alert parking enforcement of offending drivers.

In his veto message, the Democrat said the so-called “smart” parking meters lead to an increase in tickets, putting a further burden on financially-stressed drivers.

People who move to New Jersey from another state are allowed to bring their legally acquired guns with them — even if they hail from a state where firearms laws are less strict.

New residents are also not required to inform the state if they bring in lawfully acquired guns, which means state law enforcement officials may be unaware of countless new residents who have weapons.

Gun control advocates say the quirk in state law is a legal loophole for gun owners from other states who may be barred from buying a firearm in New Jersey.

Erroll Garner Jazz Project

The Century 21 Exposition, better remembered as the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, left an indelible mark on the skyline of that city: the iconic Space Needle was created for the event, along with the Seattle Center and its elevated monorail.

There were also major musical performances: a whole mess of them, by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (conducted in one concert by Igor Stravinsky); by folksingers like Theodore Bikel and Josh White; and by jazz artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Nat King Cole. Also among that last cohort was pianist Erroll Garner, a star attraction at the height of his powers.


And a smooth new groove from David Benoit and Friends.

An Santos / WBGO

Cars are parked with their emergency lights on in front of the Vince Lombardi Center in Newark’s north ward.  Brawny men use hand trucks to cart cases of water from the building to the cars, loading them in for residents.

“We’re giving out water as precaution, I think the distribution centers are moving excellently,” said Mayor Ras Baraka taking questions from reporters.  


Screenings of the new Miles Davis documentary Birth of The Cool begin today in NYC.

As my friend and Indiewire columnist Tom Brueggemann noted this week: This summer Disney had five films cross the $1 billion mark worldwide -- with fewer tickets sold domestically than any year since 1992--when the population was 90 million fewer.

A Memoir by Newark's Sharon Elise

Aug 23, 2019
Sharon Elise
Sharon Elise for WBGO News

She’s a yoga instructor, a doula, mother, Newark Native and now Sharon Elise is an author. WBGO’s Charisma Lyles caught up with Elise recently to talk about her memoir I Don't Know How I Got Here But Here I Am: A Journey through Chaos to Find Peace.

Click above to hear the entire interview.

Michael Bourne reviews Bat Out of Hell and Moulin Rouge.  To hear the review click the link above.  

John Rogers / NPR

Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the country-trap single and pop-cultural juggernaut, just ended its record-breaking run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, after a staggering 19 weeks. But while its chart-topping dominion may be over, its impact keeps rippling outward. It was probably only a matter of time before a jazz musician took the reins.

Stella K

The New York Gypsy All-Stars perform a modern strain of gypsy jazz unlike any other. By combining fiery Balkan wedding grooves with ancient Turkish traditions, these conservatory-trained musicians are quick to show off their virtuosity while also creating an intoxicating atmosphere for the dance floor.

Ang Santos / WBGO

In 2012, the Vietnam Veterans of America Jersey Shore Area Chapter 12 created a Cremains Project committee, a group that set out to return deceased fellow veterans to their loved ones.  New Jersey based producer and filmmaker Tom Phillips caught wind of the Veterans Cremains Project.

“My dad served, he died young and never told me a thing.  There was no closure for me,” he said.

New Jersey service providers who work with drug users say the state has come a long way in implementing “harm reduction” strategies but that more can be done.

Hundreds of public health workers gathered in Trenton on Wednesday for a harm reduction workshop organized by the Department of Health, as the state continues to battle a growing opioid crisis that contributed to a suspected 3,118 drug overdose deaths in 2018.

Connie Lester, whose robust and affirming style on saxophone proved a perfect fit for the soul jazz of the 1960s and beyond — notably in organ combos, and especially around a thriving scene in Newark — died on Tuesday in Edison, N.J.

He was 88. His death was confirmed by his daughter Toni Lester, who did not provide a cause.

An authoritative voice on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, Lester also played clarinet and piano. He formed a sterling reputation as a sideman, over the course of a long career largely based in his home state of New Jersey.