TOMS RIVER, NJ – Long before the MTV beach house and the self-proclaimed guidos of Jersey Shore, there was another local television star in Toms River. He was watched faithfully by man back in a time when there was very little in local programming and news.
It was a time before the internet, before hyperlocal and breaking news apps that buzz your pocket all day.
Bill Mullen, the man of many roles at Toms River’s Clear Cable Channel 8 passed away in 2013, but he will forever be remembered as a pioneer in cable television at the Jersey Shore. Clear 8 was hyperlocal news for Toms River long before there was a word to describe hyperlocal news. It was where you went for local news, high school sports, and entertainment at the local level. No other television stations covered events in Toms River unless something bad happened or the seasonal obligatory Memorial Day at the shore five-minute spot.
Born in Elizabeth, Mullen moved to the Jersey Shore in 1969. He worked for Clear Cable and later for Adelphia when they bought the company from Clear Channels Cable TV in 1994.
Mullen worked for the company for 20 years as a game show host, reporter and even was the annual emcee for the broadcast of the town’s popular Halloween parade.
In his later years, Bill worked in the Ocean County Mall, helping residents connect with the county government at the County Connection Senior Services center.
For families of Toms River in the 1980s and 1990s, Mullen was not only the guy calling bingo numbers and telling us the weather forecast he had a unique ability to give reports in sign language. Mullen learned sign language to communicate with his granddaughter but reached as many as 5,000 hearing impaired residents of the then-growing senior communities in and around Toms River.
One memory that resonates with everyone who ever came in contact with Bill Mullen was his sincere kindness and love for the job he did every day.
Mullen died in 1994 at the age of 79, but his memory lives on for many Toms River old-timers.
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