You’ve seen her involved in high school theater programs and taking photographs at Cedar Grove events, but before Barbara Silber volunteered in the township, she covered professional sports and country music legends on ABC radio.
Currently a realtor in Livingston, Silber worked in broadcasting for 25 years before trading in her New York tokens for Jersey tolls. With a masters in TV and radio production from Brooklyn College, Silber says broadcasting wasn’t always her focus.
“Originally I was an English major in college. At my senior year, I took my first TV class and I said, ‘this is where I belong.’ So I went to a TV/radio internship in grad school for two years. And that’s what made me say, ‘I want to do broadcasting,’” Silber said.
Right out of graduate school, Silber received a job offer at the ABC network before being extended an opportunity to produce a sports radio show.
“They were starting up WFAN, a brand new, first-time ever all sports radio station,” Silber said, adding that during her time at WFAN, she worked alongside sportscaster Greg Gumbel, Bryant Gumbel’s brother. “We were there for two years. And they brought in Don Imus and laid 25 of us off in order to pay his multi-million dollar contract.”
Leaving the station, Silber said in addition to covering Triple Crown races and three Olympics, there was one thing that trumped her sports broadcast career.
“I love the Yankees. Meeting Mickey Mantle on the sports end of it, that was the highlight of two years at WFAN,” Silber said.
After WFAN, Silber returned to ABC to do affiliate relations for a country radio show. “I had always loved country radio [and] I had already known all the artists so it was easy for me to market the program,” Silber said.
The show, American Country Countdown, was Silber’s first venture into music radio, but she stayed in the field and went on to produce her last radio show, Country’s Most Wanted, from 1997 to 2001.
“In country radio, meeting people like Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea, Clint Black, even Dolly Parton … that was awesome,” Silber told the Times.
Born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York, Silber and her partner Lisa moved to Cedar Grove 22 years ago, during her stint in sports radio. Though after being laid off from Country’s Most Wanted, the mother of two decided that the commute was too much.
“I got laid off a month before 9/11. When 9/11 happened it was … ,” Silber paused before continuing, “I woke up that morning and the girls were only 4 at the time and I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Working in real estate gave Silber the flexibility to be at home with her family. Since the career switch, Silber says her greatest accomplishment has been raising her now 17-year-old twin girls.
Her daughters, Emma, who swims on the Cougar Aquatic and Cedar Grove Splash swim teams, and Jennie, who plays on the high school’s varsity soccer team, are both involved in the arts. Because of that, Silber has found her way back into the media field.
“I noticed by the time my kids got to middle school that nobody did anything to publicize what was going on,” Silber said, referring to her submission of photos and information about sports and high school theater programs to local newspapers.
“You want to read hard news, but you also want to read great stories happening locally,” Silber said.
Silber is actively involved in her daughters’ lives, attending soccer games and swim meets, while taking photos of swim team accomplishments.
“She’s [been] with the Cedar Grove swim team for a while now providing us with fantastic pictures of the swimmers that go in our slide show,” Cedar Grove Splash Swim Team Coach Joseph Lipman stated in an email to the Times.
“Her action photographs are excellent and she works diligently to make sure all our swimmers are recognized in both the local paper and on Facebook,” noted Diane Raum, a Cedar Grove Splash Swim Team parent volunteer.
In addition to her contributions to local newspapers, Silber is the first publicity director for the Association of Parents and Teachers and the Music Matters group (which is the parent-teacher end of the music department, according to Silber), as well as a ongoing member of the Director’s Guild of America.
“She cares a great deal about music in our school system and works very hard to get it recognized every week. I feel Barbara is such a selfless woman who has raised, along with her partner Lisa, two terrific girls that are in my music program. She films our performances and [takes] hundreds of pictures of our choir band and orchestra students,” said Music Matters Director Jennifer Jessen-Foose.
No stranger to media, Silber says before she worked in broadcasting, she spent some time in print media as well. “I worked my way through college by working for a soap opera magazine called Afternoon TV. So I interviewed soap opera actors and actresses, too,” Silber said.
The former New Yorker went on to admit her “one big regret” in a lifetime of experiences. “During the 12 years I worked at ABC, I didn’t attempt to get over into the TV end of it. I stayed in radio [and] never made it as a TV director. I was comfortable in radio, and that was my biggest regret.”
Although broadcasting is behind her, Silber still thinks of it from time to time. “I just always loved broadcasting. I miss it, but I don’t miss the commute,” Silber continues, “I’m proud of the way I conduct my business. And I love seeing the kids’ progression when I’m at their shows, sports and all that.”