Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ, Ron Joseph Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia luncheon Wednesday, March 20, 2003 Photo courtesy of Mel Taylor & Taylor-Made Muiltmedia
Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph has been in Philadelphia broadcasting for over a half of a century. Sometimes called RJ, his programs have aired locally on several different radio and TV stations, but Ron also has a national audience on both mediums.
Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph began his broadcasting career in 1950 on "Ghost Riders," a children's show on WCAU-TV, Channel 10 in Philadelphia. Four years later, in 1954, Joseph was a panel member on "Radio Rangers," a dramatic show on WCAU Radio. It aired Sunday mornings and was hosted by Phil Sheridan.
In 1955, as a teenager, RJ published and edited a local newspaper, "The Upper Darby Tower" in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The next year (1956) Ron began a regular teen-age dancer on the locally aired "Bandstand," hosted by Bob Horn and carried over WFIL-TV, Channel 6.
When Dick Clark took over the show, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ stayed on as a regular. A year later, when Bandstand went national (as "American Bandstand"), Ron continued as a steady dancer. What is interesting is that some of the other dancers like Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Jerry Blavat, were not asked to continue with the new host.
In 1960, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph was graduated from Upper Darby High and it was about that time that he joined the staff of WEEZ Radio (then licensed to Chester, Pennsylvania). He did a nightly top 40 music show on the station.
In the meantime, there was a new TV station in town, WPCA-TV, Channel 17 in Philadelphia. Keep in mind at that time, regular TV receivers couldn't pick up Channels 14 and higher without attaching an UHF converter to the set. There weren't very many (WHYY-TV, Channel 35 was an educational station in the city and few had converters to receive the UHF signal outside of public schools.) The new channel 17 owned by Rev. Percy Crawford offered Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ his first television show.
Without viewers with converters, the station was doomed to failure, but not RJ. By 1966, RJ opens an "under twenty-one" discotheque on the University of Pennsylvania's campus at 40th and Walnut Streets. He also started another club, "Groove" at Broad and Locust where WIFI, 92.5 on the FM dial broadcast live.
Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph went to the same church as Philadelphia's Legendary TV newsman John Facenda. John quite often would pass along broadcast tips to RJ after the 11:15 morning mass at St. Bernadette's in Drexel Hill.
By 1965, Channel 17 was back on the air as WPHL-TV along with two other UHF stations, WIBF-TV (Channel 29) and WKBS-TV (Channel 48). In 1966, WIBF-TV operating out of the Benson East in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania offered Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ an opportunity to recreate his own TV version of the teen disco on Channel 29. Ron Joseph was on television for a decade and during 1975, RJ & Company was syndicated in twenty markets including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The program also was known as "Disco USA."
In 1982, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph was broadcasting over XPRS, a Mexican radio station serving Los Angeles. The outlet had 50,000 watts and blanketed the sixteen western states plus parts of Canada and a large part of Mexico.
Then RJ had another TV program, "Teen Scene Magazine," which was carried in the Philadelphia area over WRBV-TV, Channel 65. The station was licensed to Vineland, NJ. The show also aired over KFTY-TV, Channel 50 in Santa Rosa, California.
In 1985, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ returned to radio on the Philadelphia Wireless Institute's station, WPWT-FM. At this same time, Ron created "Beach Party USA" which originated from Hunts Pier in Wildwood, NJ. The program aired over Wilmington's Channel 61, WTGI (now WPPX, Pax).
The next year, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's Ron Joseph traveled to Europe for a new teenager motion picture, "Gemini Twin Stars" starring Gene Patrick (McGinty) who was "discovered" by RJ at his teen club on South Street in Center City Philadelphia.
In 1989, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT's RJ pioneered a new field, low-powered television. He was the moving force behind W07CB-TV, Philadelphia. The station aired old TV shows like The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, RJ's old dance shows and a telephone talk show. 1989 also saw Ron starting "Open Mike" over Channel 53 in Atlantic City, WWAC-TV.
In 1993, he opened low power television station, W05AX-TV in Wildwood, Cape May and four years later, in 1997, WELL-TV, Channel 8 in Willow Grove.
In 1998, our own RJ began a disco "block party" at Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT. He has syndicated "Disco USA" to independent stations across the nation including KECG-FM in Oakland, California serving San Francisco. His TV dance show is still seen around the country as "The Nostalgia Dance Party."
In March of 2003, Ron Joseph was inducted into membership of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, an organization of approx. 300 area broadcasters, all with at least 15 years of experience in the business.