LYNDHURST, N.J.– Joseph Shinnick of Lyndhurst has over 25,000 songs in his personal collection – on vinyl, cassette or CD.
The music spans from the 1920s to today's Top 20 – and everything in between – said Shinnick, who hosts "Jukebox Jamboree" on World Conscience Public Radio (WCRP).
Each week, Shinnick picks out 25 songs for his two-hour, Friday show and converts them to MP3. He then researches each artist and the particular number he selected before writing a script.
"The songs choose me," said Shinnick, 63, who records the program in his basement. "I don't just play music, I discuss the music. I really bring the listener into each song."
One constant in each episode of "Jukebox Jamboree" – which is entering its 23rd week on air – is a hit by Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Monkees.
In between, listeners will hear country, jazz, hard rock, hip-hop or even a novelty tune from the last century.
"It's like criss-crossing through time," Shinnick said. "My daughter calls it 'musical whiplash'.
"All music needs to be appreciated," he added. "I try to fill that void."
Shinnick remembers the days of AM radio, switching between WMCA and WABC.
"You'd hear rock, doo-wop, jazz, a show tune and country all after another," he said. "That's how it was. Then with FM radio, especially in the 1980s, came a separation of genres [by station].
"The great melding of music went away," he said. "I want people to remove their 'musical shutters.'"
The show counts actor Henry Winkler (known as The Fonz from Happy Days) and singer Linda Ronstadt as listeners and the ratings have increased each week, Shinnick said.
Shinnick longed to become a DJ or music programmer after retiring from the Port Authority in 2010.
His wife of 40 years, Donna, worked as an accountant while Shinnick was in charge of employee communications.
He started in the mailroom in 1976 and was promoted after earning a degree in Business Communications from St. Peter's College and a masters in Communications and Media Studies from The New School, located in Manhattan.
Both husband and wife worked in the World Trade Center, surviving the 1993 bombing and the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I feel like James Bond," Shinnick remarked.
In 2001, Shinnick was on the last Path train to arrive before service was suspended. The first plane had already hit.
He saw a mad dash of people in the concourse coming towards him, so he ran towards the nearest exit and saw the second plane crash.
Donna was on the 69th floor and Shinnick thought she was dead – neither had cell phones at the time – until he saw her later that afternoon.
The radio gig brings in some money, but Shinnick said he does it for his musical passion and desire to expose people to different genres.
"I want to turn you on to a song you may have loved but forgotten or play a song you've never heard before but come to love it," he said.
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