‘It issssss thirrrrrrd dowwwwn’

Traffic and sports reporter Joe Nolan speaks to Westfield community


Photo Fiona Gillen

Reporter Joe Nolan speaks to the community at the Westfield Memorial Library as a part of the Hale Speaker Series.

It was Dec. 7, 1976. Joe Nolan was a freshman at Seton Hall University—a metropolis compared to his 36-person senior class at Holy Trinity High School. On this day, Nolan noticed something that he hadn’t before: the university’s radio tower. Little did he know, his decision to fill out a form to work at the radio station, WSOU, would change the trajectory of the rest of his life. “That was the day I stopped going to Seton Hall to be a lawyer and started going to Seton Hall to be a communications major,” Nolan said.

Cut to 43 years later, Nolan has made a name for himself in the radio and sports announcing industries. He’s worked for radio stations including WPLJ, NJ 101.5 and WCBS and now runs his own company, New Jersey Internet Radio (njir.net), which covers local high school sports. He has also announced for Rutgers football and the New York Jets for over a decade. As a result of his success, Nolan was asked to be a featured speaker for the Westfield Memorial Library Hale Speaker Series on March 20. This series has been bringing local figures to speak to the community for 12 years.

Nolan began his presentation with a disclaimer: “I’ve never done anything like this before.” Despite his apprehension, he easily worked the crowd and filled the room with laughter as he talked about everything from getting in trouble with the nuns at Holy Trinity to the time when Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, yelled at Nolan for “cheerleading” for the Jets when announcing his first game. His stories even prompted an audience member to ask if he had ever considered a career in stand-up.

Nolan’s presentation drew a considerable crowd with fans of all ages. “I’m really interested in sports broadcasting and the idea behind it, and [Joe Nolan] is very famous in this area,” Nate Lechner, a WHS sophomore, explained.

John Cierpial, a Westfield resident, said: “I watched Joe Nolan with my family ever since I was very young, probably about 20 years now. Being a local Westfield resident, I wanted to come support him and hear his story.”

Recently, Nolan started the Maureen E. Nolan Foundation, named after his late mother. Nolan’s mother was a teacher at Holy Trinity and the goal of the foundation is to award Catholic school students with scholarships to aid in furthering their education. “[My mother] would love this beyond belief,” Nolan said.

When asked if he had any advice for prospective announcers or radio hosts, Nolan said, “You have to get experience and find out the business of it—that’s more important than the degree.”

Nolan’s passion for radio was made clear throughout his presentation. “I got the radio bug like that,” he explained. “Once you get it, that’s it, you’re done. You’re going to do this for the rest of your life.”