New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? All events are picked up by search engines. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

WNEW On the Beach

By Gary Wien

originally published: 01/26/2012

In the mid-80s, Asbury Park had already become largely a ghost town even during the summer season.  The Palace was still open but most of the rides along the boardwalk were long gone as were many of the restaurants and shops.  The once crowded beach was largely abandoned in favor of nearby towns like Belmar and Manasquan.  But for two days each year, WNEW-FM of New York made Asbury the place to be again.

Every Memorial Day and Labor Day WNEW-FM took over Asbury Park with a free all-day concert on the beach. The show took place in front of the old Casino and was broadcast live on the radio.  Tens of thousands of fans from the tri-state area used to take the Garden State Parkway to exit 102 (as in 102.7 FM) and come down for the day.  Crowds of up to 80,000 were not uncommon.  And, since school was still in session for the first show, it became the local “cut day” for students from the area.  “The fact that it was free didn’t hurt,” said Jim Monaghan, a former DJ at WNEW-FM.

Boardwalk vendors that seemed to be closed every day of the year sold pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers and soda.  WNEW-FM hats were given out and the station had promotional giveaways throughout the day.  Each show was more than just an event, it was a celebration of music in a town with an incredible musical legacy. 

“Bruce and Southside certainly put the town on the map, giving it an international spotlight,” said Monaghan.  “Without those two, Asbury Park is just another town with a good music scene. With those two, Asbury took on a kind of romantic notion.”

Monaghan believes the Springsteen connection was a factor in why WNEW chose Asbury Park. “WNEW-FM had a long history with New Jersey listeners and at the time there was still a pretty vibrant Jersey Shore music scene,” he said. “ I would also imagine that the station’s relationship with the Stone Pony had a lot to do with the decision to have the shows there.  Asbury was also convenient to get to and had an area of beach and boardwalk large enough to hold a significant amount of people.”

Shows featured such local artists as Southside Johnny & the Jukes, Glen Burtnick, the Smithereens and John Eddie.  National acts included Joan Jett, the Fabulous T-Birds, Robert Cray Band, Georgia Satellites, Nick Lowe and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.

The article continues after this ad


Monaghan’s own band, Bums In The Park, was a regular member of the lineup as well.  “There was always a feeling of celebrating the sense of community that the station had always tried to develop with its listeners,” said Monaghan.  “Some very cool national artists played those shows with me... I was always on the lookout for good local bands that we could help break on the air because that had long been a big part of the station’s history.”

From the book Beyond The Palace by Gary Wien

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station Asbury Music. He can be contacted at

For more by this author, click here

More Articles You Might Like

Backstreet Boys To Perform In Newark
Backstreet Boys To Perform In Newark
The Black Keys Tour To Hit NY and Philly
The Black Keys Tour To Hit NY and Philly
Phil Collins to Perform at MSG
Phil Collins to Perform at MSG
NJPAC Presents Alice’s Restaurant Back By Popular Demand Tour On September 29
NJPAC Presents Alice’s Restaurant Back By Popular Demand Tour On September 29
Newton Theatre Presents The Jayhawks
Newton Theatre Presents The Jayhawks
Celine Dion To Perform At Prudential Center On March 7, 2020
Celine Dion To Perform At Prudential Center On March 7, 2020

Event calendar
Monday, Aug 26, 2019


Happy Mondays @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 7:00pm


ADAM FERRARA @ Howie Mandels Comedy Club at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.