Barnegat Teen Favors Doo-Wop Over Hip-Hop

By ERIC ENGLUND | May 29, 2019
Photo by: Supplied GUEST DJ: Fifteen-year-old Sandra Roberts has autism. Her family credits on-air radio personality Ray Ricci’s ‘The Unforgettable Doowop Show’ with helping her communicate and express herself.

Barnegat Township — Ray Ricci, host of the “Unforgettable Doowop Show” on WBNJ 91.9 FM in Barnegat Township, receives many letters and phone calls from fans of his program. However, one correspondence stood out from the rest. The letter came from 15-year-old Sandra Roberts of Barnegat.

Sandra expressed her admiration for her favorite radio host and shared a large number of song requests. Ricci said the fact that a 15-year-old would be so into music from the late ’50s and early ’60s is remarkable enough, but what made this request even more special is that Sandra has autism.

“Before her mother introduced her to this radio show, Sandra did not communicate or express herself well,” he said. “After Sandra began listening and appreciating the music, she opened up and was a different person. Listening to the ‘Unforgettable Doowop Show’ on WBNJ became a weekly schedule not to be missed.”

Her mother, Leigh Ann Lieberun, said after learning more about Sandra, Ricci and WBNJ General Manager Bill Clanton Jr. decided to invite her and her family into the radio station for a tour. To the teen’s surprise, she was not only coming in for a tour, but she was there to be a guest DJ on the show, which airs on Friday at 7 p.m., with repeat broadcasts on Sunday evenings at 7 and Thursday mornings at 9.

During a recent show, Sandra was not shy about demonstrating her knowledge of the artists and songs. “She knows this music almost better than me,” said Ricci.

Lieberun said you can practically name any doo-wop era song, and Sandra will come up with the group’s name within seconds.

“She has an unbelievable memory,” she said.

Lieberun said Sandra began listening to the show several years ago at a neighbor’s house.

“She got a real kick out of Ray (Ricci) saying ‘fughetaboutit,’” she said. “That was another reason she liked listening to the show.”

“This made for a memorable moment for Sandra, and I’m happy we were able to make it happen,” said Clanton.

— Eric Englund

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