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25 years of playing tunes

With 25 years in the music business, Ann Marie Calabrese has come full circle. She's returned to the radio station where her career began, grown a flourishing DJ company, and immerses herself daily in the music that she loves.

Calabrese is currently on WMGH Magic 105.5 FM in Nesquehoning, where she has hosted Stuck in the '80s on Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight since 2010. She last hosted a Penn's Peak Radio show by the same name."For as far back as I can remember, music has been an important part of my life," said Calabrese. Her parents and siblings loved music and someone was always playing the radio, listening to old 33s, or singing in her childhood home."Now wherever I'm working, there has to be music. There cannot be silence," she added.Her passion for music was noticed by her Tamaqua Area High School guidance counselor, the late Nick Young, who was also a sports announcer for WMGH. He arranged an interview with the station manager and Calabrese began working at the station in 1990 as a high school senior.She began as an automation operator and then moved to advertising sales and eventually her own show at WMGH, the now defunct Magic's '80s Classics."I liked the fact that you can affect someone's day with a particular song or just by saying hello," said Calabrese. "You're speaking to a group of people, but making them feel like you're speaking one on one."Her favorite artists from the '80s include Madonna, INXS, Michael and Janet Jackson, Prince, and Rick Springfield. She considers meeting Springfield the highlight of her career.While Calabrese continues to relish her role as The '80s Guru, many listeners and clients are surprised to learn that she enjoys a wide variety of music.In her independent business, Coolbreeze Imaging, she offers tunes from the Big Band era to current hits."If you get in the car with me now, I've got Led Zeppelin, Pitbull and Taylor Swift's 1989 album playing. I have a variety of music tastes," she said.Calabrese has hosted settings as diverse as a fashion shows at Macy's, a private party in the Sands Event Center and ARC of NEPA dances to weddings, graduations and reunions."A lot of people call me their family DJ," said Calabrese. "I've done everything from christenings to birthday parties and weddings for some families."She enjoys the pace of DJing, which is different from radio format. It allows her to read the crowd's mood and set the tone for special events.Coolbreeze Imaging also offers audio production, including voice-over work and custom music mixes and editing. Calabrese noted that "imaging" is the radio marketing term for the sound effects that identify a radio station. It's the image people "see" when they listen.Much has changed in the music industry, but some things will stay the same. While Calabrese no longer uses reel to reel machines and carts (similar to 8 tracks) to produce radio shows, she's still using her intuition and experience to connect with her audience.That connection is a crucial point for DJs everywhere, as online and subscription radios compete with local stations for limited listening time."Technology has definitely been the biggest change. We have a lot of competition," she said.While she enjoys using the modern conveniences of music technology in her business, Calabrese remains decidedly low-tech outside of the studio. She uses CDs instead of a computer-operated DJ system, which prevents the problems some DJs face when computers crash and hard drives freeze. She also doesn't have (or need) a website or business Facebook page and stays busy through referrals and word-of-mouth."I want to thank all of my advertising clients, my fans, and anyone who has ever hired me," said Calabrese. "Without them, I wouldn't have been able to do this for 25 years through just word-of-mouth."She also thanked her friends and family for supporting her throughout the years.For more information about Coolbreeze Imaging or to request a song on Stuck in the '80s, contact Calabrese at 570-290-8089 or


STACEY SOLT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Ann Marie Calabrese selects a CD for her show Stuck in the '80son WMGH Magic 105.5 FM, which airs on Saturdays from 9 p.m.to midnight. She is celebrating 25 years as a radio and mobile disc jockey.