NEPTUNE CITY, N.J. — After a career spent trying to supervise the likes of Howard Stern, Don Imus and Mike Francesa, Mark Chernoff is not the boss anymore.
Instead, he is at “107.1 The Boss,” a classic rock station on the Jersey Shore, where at age 70 he has returned to his radio roots, working as a weekend DJ and morning sports update man.
“To be clear, this is for the love of wanting to do this stuff,” Chernoff told Newsday before his afternoon shift on Saturday. “I did OK in radio. I have no complaints.
“Companies were good to me. Hopefully, I was good to them. It was a two-way street, and it’s been fun being able to do this.”
Chernoff was such a fixture at WFAN from 1993 through June 2021 that the station named its newsroom for him.
But, while he played a crucial behind-the-scenes role as a programming executive there, to most listeners he was known as an on-air foil for a series of famous hosts.
That extended even beyond his departure from the station. When news broke last month of his new job at “The Boss,” WFAN’s morning show soon began talking about playing some of his updates on his old station.
“My lot in life for so many years with Howard Stern [at K-Rock], Imus, Mike and Chris [Russo] and some of the other shows is: Let’s make fun of Chernoff the program director, which they did,” he said.
“I was happy to play along. I always said: ‘This is radio. I have no issues. It’s all for fun.’ ”
Among the Chernoff-related bits was getting him to voice intros into songs, like a DJ, and he was happy to do so. Now he is doing it for real.
Last June, he did a guest Saturday night music show on WCBS-FM and “had a blast.”
So when he reached out to the boss at “The Boss,” program director Robby Bridges gave him the opportunity to do weekend shows, and he jumped at it. He usually hosts every other weekend or so.
Bridges, who is the morning co-host with his wife, Rochelle Gagnon, then asked Chernoff if he also would be up for doing a pair of one-minute sports updates every weekday morning. He agreed to that, too. He records them in his home in Livingston, New Jersey, either late at night or first thing in the morning.
Chernoff also has begun to do some consulting work for radio talent.
There are no plans to expand his work duties beyond that for now. Chernoff has 10 far-flung grandchildren whom he and his wife, Sally, enjoy visiting, including the family of his son Mike, who is general manager of the Cleveland Guardians.
Chernoff, who keeps fit by running five miles every day, said he still roots for his former teammates at WFAN to do well, even though leaving the station was not his decision.
“The company had other ideas about what they wanted to do, and I guess they felt like making some changes,” he said.
Chernoff stayed on longer than originally planned, and he helped identify his replacement, Spike Eskin.
“Look, I don’t run the company; I don’t get to make the decisions,” he said. “I was glad that I got 28 1⁄2 years at the same radio station. I believe we were very successful. I got to work with some unbelievable talent . . . No animosity, no bad feelings, but that’s life — not my company.”
Chernoff’s long history in radio dates to his days at Rutgers’ station as an undergraduate.
After a brief, unhappy career as an accountant, he got into the radio business for good, with on- and off-air roles at stations including WDHA in New Jersey and later WNEW and K-Rock in New York.
In 1993, he was offered a job at WFAN.
“I finally made the move when Mel [Karmazin, the famed radio executive] kind of said, ‘I think it would be a really good idea for you to do FAN,’ ” Chernoff recalled. “It turned out to be wonderful.”
“The Boss” focuses on rock music from the 1970s and ’80s, with a playlist Chernoff said he enjoys listening to.
The station and its sister outlet at 99.7 FM can be heard up and down the Jersey Shore and as far as parts of Nassau County.
As Chernoff stood at the control board on Saturday — working one himself this summer for the first time in 30 years — he smiled as he listened to songs and waited to jump in with a few words, and eventually to deliver the weather report.
Come Monday morning, he was reporting on the Yankees’ back-to-back routs of the Red Sox. Bridges, who is from Rhode Island, good-naturedly chided him for sounding a bit too pleased about it.
It was not exactly morning drive time in the big city, but it was a real radio gig.
“I’m just pleased and happy to be able to do this,” Chernoff said. “I just like being on the air again.”