What Rutgers people are doing after work
Archived article from Nov 5, 1999
By Douglas Frank
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But for six hours each Saturday night she takes on a different persona as a disc jockey for the Magic Memories Show, FM 98.3, a call-in request format for rock music of the '50s, '60s and early '70s.
Spinning platters is nothing new to her.
"I dropped out of St. John's University because I got a job on the radio," she recalls. "So I thought I was great at 18 years old." That first job was with WCNJ, full time. Then she moved to Oldies 107.1. After that station got sold to Country Y107, she went to work part time for Magic 98.3.
Known on radio as Flo Hansen (her maiden name), she describes the program as "very popular and busy," estimating she gets about 140 requests a night, mostly for doo-wop, that slow-dance vocal music of the '50s.
"I grew up with rock 'n' roll. My mom, high-school class of 1959, always teased me about the Twist -- 'Just take a towel and pretend you are drying yourself off.'" Born in 1971, Pesquera loves the music of the '50s.
The radio work has led to other activities such as appearances at charity events, softball games and street fairs, as well as voice-over work for Comcast Cable commercials.
She's not about to give up her Rutgers job, however. She's just happy to be involved "for the love of radio. I always liked radio," she asserts.
She enjoys a small local fame, but sometimes it's a drawback, particularly when some fans get pesky. "One woman followed me all through Woodbridge Mall," she remembers, "and many people recognize me by my voice."
Pesquera recently returned to college and is taking evening courses in administration of justice at University College. She has an eye toward communications law, with possibly law school in her future.
The pie lady When Valerie Smith Stephens got married in 1990 she "couldn't even boil water," she recalls. But her husband, Marcus, soon changed that.
"I started cooking with a Betty Crocker cookbook," she says. "But my husband is from the South. So he went to one of his relatives, and he got me a Southern cookbook. He said, 'Cook out of this book.' And that's how I started."
Today Stephens, director of the Learning Resource Center at the Camden campus, is a full-fledged Southern cook, her menus filled with corn bread, lima beans, collard greens and the like. But her best dish is sweet-potato pie.
In fact, she is known in some circles as "the pie lady." In September, she won "best pie" honors in a competition among 30 dessert cooks in the Second Baptist Church of Moorestown.
Her pies are in demand among her friends and relatives, and she spends much of her time during the holidays churning them out as gifts.
Once, before her fifth wedding anniversary, she baked and sold enough pies to pay for a limousine ride to the airport for a surprise anniversary cruise for her husband. To pay for the rest of the trip, she squirreled away savings by "giving up Macy's for two years."
Stephens, who presently supervises the daily operations of the learning center, has worked on all three campuses of the state university. Previously she was a developmental specialist at Cook College, advising both scholarship recipients and students on academic probation, and a career counselor at Rutgers-Newark. She joined Rutgers in 1987.
She doesn't plan to go into the pie business anytime soon -- too much pressure. "I think I bake just for the love of it." Meanwhile, husband Marcus remains the major benefactor.
"He's my quality-control agent," she says. "I usually bake three at a time and he samples the first. If it passes his inspection, we give the other two away."
Body trainer/figure painter Stacy Smith liked to draw when he was a kid, but growing up in a country town in South Carolina, he remembers not having art classes in school.
Involved with sports most of his life, it wasn't until he took an art class at the College of Charleston that he began to think he had artistic talent.
He dabbled in art for a while until he moved to the Northeast in 1991 to take a job as an athletic trainer on the Newark campus. That's when the art demon inside of him was let loose.
"I'll tell you, it was culture shock. I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and I haven't slowed down since." He started with pastels and subsequently attended a summer drawing class at the New York Art Students League, where he was told by an instructor, "You have so much talent, you should do this full time."
He took that encouragement to heart and soon moved into oil painting, specializing in abstract figure painting.
"In college I was into my body and working out, and in graduate school I majored in sports medicine at the United States Sports Academy. Maybe that's the reason I got into drawing human figures."
Now he paints at night, in the morning before he goes to work and on Saturday nights. And his output in recent years has been impressive -- 60 works, including 30 paintings. He has been in three group shows since 1996, in Montclair twice and in Charleston, and had a solo show at the gallery at the Busch Campus Center. He sold five paintings at Busch in the spring show and 10 other paintings hang in his Golden Dome office.
Five of his paintings are currently being displayed in the Starbucks on Valley Road in Upper Montclair, and his works will be part of a group exhibit for emerging artists at the Bertone Gallery, 465 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair. An opening reception will be held 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 20, and the show will run through Jan. 1.
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