10 Questions with ... Cha-Chi Loprete
August 11, 2009
Great Memories From WBCNNAME:Cha-Chi LopreteTITLE:Marketing DirectorSTATION:WBCNMARKET:BostonCOMPANY:CBSBORN:Boston, MassachusettsRAISED:Cambridge, Massachusetts
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to work in radio. I always carried a transistor radio as a child. I listened to WBCN throughout my teenage years and always wanted to work at the station. They had the best DJs, the best music, the best contests, and events. WBCN was a groundbreaking radio station and everyone in Boston listened. After high school I had a brief seven year career at Polaroid Corporation as a Chemical Technician.
One day while I was working at Polaroid, I decided to pursue my dream. I wrote a letter to then-WBCN morning man Charles Laquidara offering to answer phones for free. There was a year-long waiting list to work the phones, but I received a call shortly thereafter. They offered me the chance to work at WBCN for free. I jumped at the opportunity. It was one of the happiest days of my life. The DJs there were major Boston celebrities and working with my heroes was a dream come true.
Within a year, I became a van driver and was given the added responsibility of sweeping the garage floor for $1.50 an hour. From there, I quickly moved into a position as a promotion assistant and became a character on the afternoon drive show. The nickname Cha-Chi was bestowed upon me by then News Director, Matt Schaffer -- no one to this day knows why. Soon after, I became a WBCN DJ hosting a weekly WBCN Beatles show. In the early '90s, I became Promotions Director, then promoted to Creative Services Director and am currently the Marketing Director for WBCN and WZLX, Boston's Classic Rock. In addition, I currently host "Breakfast With The Beatles" Saturday mornings on WZLX.
LAST NON-INDUSTRY JOB:
FIRST RECORD EVER PURCHASED:
The Beatles -- I Want To Hold Your Hand on 45 rpm. I still own the record today.
Elton John at the Boston Garden. It was the mid-70s and Elton brought on Stevie Wonder to perform the encore with him.
FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME:
1. After 41 years, the news about WBCN moving to HD Radio/online was quite a shocker. What went through your mind when you heard the news?
I was stunned by the news. I feared that this would indeed happen one day. But it didn't quite hit me until the weekend, when I had time to think about it. After all, this was the radio station I grew up listening to... this was the radio station that inspired me to pursue a career in the radio industry. So, it was pretty emotional for me.
2. If you had to narrow down the top 5 defining moments in WBCN's history, what would they be?
March 15th 1968: That was the day WBCN the classical music station, became WBCN The Rock Station. The first song we played was "I Feel Free" by Cream. An unsuspecting Boston had no idea what was about to happen to the city and to radio.
The Strike of 1979: The staff was let go by the new management and the DJs walked out to support those who were fired. The entire city came together to support the station, advertisers pulled their commercials, bands played benefits and people both staff and fans walked the picket line. It was one effort with one goal and a unity that you don't see anymore. It was unforgettable.
THE WBCN ROCK'N'ROLL RUMBLE: Back in 1978, two people who I admire and respect, David Bieber and Eddie Gorodetsky created a battle of the bands style event called, "The WBCN Rock'n'Roll Rumble." The first Rumble was held at the "Inn Square Men's Bar, Ladies Invited" in Cambridge. The rumble continued through the years and became the single longest running battle of the bands event in the country. The first winner were The Neighborhoods, this year's winner was The Luxury.
HOWARD STERN: Another defining moment was when we put Howard Stern on mornings on WBCN. I had heard many things about Howard, but I never heard his show. Howard certainly did not disappoint. He was brilliant everyday, and the finest interviewer I ever heard. In my opinion, one shining moment for Howard was when this country had its worst day, 9-11. Howard proved himself that day to even his harshest critics.
U2: We broke many bands through the years at WBCN...one of the most defining moments would have to be when Carter Alan first played U2 and had the band in the studio. Who knew they would be a band that spoke to generations thru their music. Recently when U2 played the Boston area, Bono made it a point to say to the TV news stations covering the event that the band owed it to WBCN for breaking in the US.
3. What stands out the most about your first few days at WBCN?
What I remember most was meeting and actually working with the three biggest disc jockeys in Boston. These guys were celebrities to me and many, many others. Charles, Ken and Mark...the Big Three we use to call them. And they lived up to that name. These guys lived and breathed radio 24 hours a day.
4. Could you give a rundown of the big legends you have worked with at WBCN and what stands out the most about each person?
CHARLES LAQUIDARA: Of course we can't talk about WBCN without mentioning Charles Laquidara. He was unlike any morning DJ I had ever heard before...he was funny, entertaining and he had a social consciousness that he wasn't afraid of sharing with his listeners. If it wasn't for Charles, I may not be working in radio today. He inspired me.
OEDIPUS: Before I worked for WBCN, I would listen to a WBCN DJ named Oedipus and his program Nocturnal Emissions. When I arrived at WBCN in 1981, Oedipus had just become the Program Director. Working with him was a learning experience that can never be taught from a book.
HOWARD STERN: Although I already paid kudos to Howard Stern, it is worth repeating. Working with Howard Stern and meeting him, albeit only once was one of the greatest experiences in radio for me. For me, Howard Stern was to radio what John Lennon was to the Beatles.
BILLY WEST: The man of a thousand voices and one of the funniest people I ever met. Billy was on the Charles Laquidara show and he went on to work with Howard Stern. During the years I got to work with Billy at WBCN, I found his humor to be one of the driving spirits at WBCN. His humor was thought provoking and intelligent. He was one of the most creative people I ever met. I was really sorry to see him go, but a person with his talent can't be held down.
5. How would you summarize the recent years at WBCN compared to the station's glory days as a dominant AOR station?
The world has changed quite a bit since the glory days of WBCN. The way people embrace and receive culture today is far different from the glory days of WBCN. Back then, WBCN was the epicenter of people's cultural lives. They tuned into WBCN to hear what was happening in their city, country and their world, and first and foremost to hear the latest music. The technology today has changed the playing field entirely.
6. What would surprise people the most about WBCN?
Most people think its an easy job, but that's because we make it look easy. It's a lot of hard work...people only see the glamour of meeting rock stars and going to a lot of shows, but as all of us that work in radio know, its not that easy.
7. What is the goal of the On-air 4 Day Farewell to 104.1 WBCN on August 8-11?
To share with this generation of Bostonians a glimpse at what WBCN was like back in the day. Most hear about it through their parents, we want to try to give them a real taste of what it was like and we want to bathe their parents in the nostalgia of what WBCN was.
8. What are you most proud of since joining the station?
First I am proud to say I have been at WBCN for 28 years. That I long had a dream to work at WBCN, one of the finest radio stations in the country and my dream came true. I am grateful for that.
I am also proud of the years of community service that this station provided to charities throughout the years. Thirty-Five years of running the largest single Blood Drive for the Red Cross, donating hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars to various charities in the Boston area. I have always believed radio should give back to its community, that's what builds the bond between a radio station and its listeners.
9. What is your great memory of WBCN?
I have so many...like when I had to meet a cab with an unknown band inside by the name of U2, because the cab driver couldn't find the radio station...to when I interviewed three of the four Beatles...or the day I came to work and President Jimmy Carter was in the lobby...the list goes on, I am lucky to have such memories and experiences.
10. What do you want folks to remember the most about WBCN?
That this radio station from day one until the present was run by a group of the most talented people that ever worked in radio. From the early days with GM Tony Berardini, PD Oedipus to the talented air staffers like Charles Laquidara.... to the staff today, led by GM Mark Hannon, PD Mike Thomas and the Toucher And Rich Morning Show. I am proud of our work and commitment to the product and I am really privileged to work with these talented people.
What was the best WBCN promotion ever?
You know I have probably worked on a million different promotions...so it's hard to really say...but a good gauge for a successful promotion is making it as low cost as possible come out with the biggest pop...and one comes to mind...
Local guy and actor Ben Affleck and Jennifer -Lopez released a film called Gigli...it was probably one of the worst films ever made. I remember talking to a local theater manager who said he had showings of the film that were running in empty houses. I convinced him to let me have the very last showing of the movie for no cost. I told him I would fill the house...at least he could sell popcorn.
The concept of the promotion, who can sit thru Gigli. For everyone that sat thru the movie, they would receive a "I survived Gigli" t-shirt and one winner would receive an Xbox. With Ben Affleck being from Cambridge, listeners went crazy...his family heard about it, because we got lots of press in the local papers. We had a full house and many listeners stayed just to win a shirt.
Now this may not sound so earth shattering, but we got major press. We were in all the local newspapers and Oedipus was interviewed on CNN and Fox News and it ran all over the country and the world.
The cost? The price of 200 t-shirts! Now that's a promotion!Copyright © 2020 All Access Music Group. All rights reserved.