Distinguishing Don and Dawn is also a NJ thing. Dawn has a diphthong, Don does not. I believe Don/Dawn is part of the Cot/Caught merger, which is notably not found in NYC.
NYC, New England, and New Jersey also lack the infamous Mary/merry/marry merger, distinguishing all three vowels. Say the phrase “fairy ferry” to yourself. Are they homophones? How about “I will tarry with Terry”? How about “Hairy Harry?”.
I will ride the fairy ferry with Hairy Harry and tarry with Terry. There are three different rhyming groups and none of the words are homophones. You got a problem with that?
I did some recordings for Librivox a few years ago. It was all-volunteer then, and though I haven’t checked in lately, I don’t imagine that anything has changed in that regard.
From what I could tell, however, it did tend to attract people who had some kind of experience–perhaps radio broadcasting, or commercial/PSA announcing, or other such endeavors where you’re reading prepared copy into a microphone. Those weren’t the only readers though–there were some who just liked to read and record, and who were quite good at it. It was an interesting experience; maybe I should think about doing it again.
Seems like what we would call a Maryland accent, when I was growing up in PG Co. It seems to be an accent continuum that runs from southern New Jersey through the coastal lowlands around the Chesapeake Bay, and into the North Carolina coast. It appears to extend westward into parts of Appalachia too.
Do Baltimoreans say “Oh’un” with the dipthong, too? I can’t remember.
I pronounce ‘on’ like ‘awn’ because I’m from the MidLantic region where this is common. From Maryland through the greater Philadelphia area, into that Murder-Durder mix of central PA accents and out into some part of Jersey until you get north far enough to be in Joysey you’ll hear it as ‘awn’. Then you get up to Boston and the people pronounce ‘awn’ as if it’s ‘on’. And when people say “Go ask Don about that” I have to say “Who’s Don”, resulting in some confusion until I figure out they mean “Ask Dawn about that”, not “Don”. But that’s hardly the worst way they mangle the language.