Former Harrisonian JoAnn Barton making it big with radio show

JoAnn Barton is a Harrison girl at heart, even though she no longer lives here.

From her humble beginnings in the small West Hudson town, she’d go on to become a singer and songwriter — and had a great career singing professionally. But when the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, hit, Barton was working in Lower Manhattan in finance.

Over time, her singing voice began to deteriorate. Doctors had no idea why it was happening, especially because at the time, the federal government, and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, were telling folks the air was safe at or around Ground Zero.

We know, now, that was not true — as countless lives were changed, for the worse, because of what was actually in the air down there. Such was the case for Barton, who lost her singing voice thanks to the toxins that were in the air all that time in 2001 and thereafter.

And, while her singing voice has never quite been the same, her speaking voice is still very strong — and she’s parlayed her singing career into a radio show — Applause Radio Show — that brings the best in entertainment to its listeners.

But first, a little more background.

Barton got her start as a singer after she — get this — answered a classified ad in this very newspaper, The Observer. She’d already worked at the newspaper before this when there was a satellite office in Rutherford in the 1980s.

She got the singing gig — and the rest panned out beautifully.

Her love for music, though, would not go away with her singing voice. It all led to the radio show.

“I’ve always had a great love for musicians and celebrities,” Barton says. “For some, their careers have slowed down. So I knew the show would be a great way for them to let the world know they’re still around and still doing great things.”

Barton says when she has guests on the program — just last weekend it was the step-brother of Elvis Presley, Billy Stanley; Elvis’s nurse at the time of his death in 1977, Liticia; and one of Elvis’s backup singers, Larry Strickland — she wants it to come across as if she’s having a chat with the celebs, with thousands of people listening in.

“We’re just hanging out, having a great time,” Barton says. “I always hoped to stay involved in the industry — and this has been a great way to do that. We want to help promote them, the guests. They were once influences on my life — now I want to be able to influence them.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing for Barton is when she develops friendships with her guests after their appearances.

She says Taco, the singer of the 1983 hit “Putting on the Ritz,” among others, have called or texted her out of the blue, just to say hello.

Not bad for a girl from Harrison, eh?

The show itself originates through the Blog Talk Radio platform. But because of the success of the program, iHeartRadio picked it up for live broadcast and as a post-show podcast. It’s also available via Hamilton Radio and Live365.

You can hear it live at at 8 p.m., each Wednesday and 7 p.m., each Sunday. There are also numerous specials that air at different times on varying days.

And when you do hear it — she’s joined each week by co-hose John Orrichio, a movie director who once called into an earlier carnation of the show.

“John does all the tech work,” Barton says. “He’s a great friend and great co-host.”

Some of her more recognizable, recent guests include Alison Arngrim, who played the detestable Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie” from 1974 to 1983; Anson Williams, who played Potsie on “Happy Days” in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; and Carmine Appice, one of the greatest rock-n-roll drummers of all time and boyfriend to Leslie Gold “The Radiochick,” among many others.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Applause Radio Show today!

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.