By Ed Karvoski Jr.
Cambridge/Middleboro – Determination to become a radio deejay for Cha-Chi Loprete began soon after watching The Beatles’ first live American television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” at age 7 in 1964 at his family’s Cambridge home. He realized that the job could give him an opportunity to interact with The Beatles and their inner circle.
“The Beatles exposed us to a whole new sound and generation of music,” he declared. “That was a turning point for me.”
Having worked since the 1980s as a deejay and other positions in the Boston-based radio industry, Loprete has interviewed George Harrison, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Additionally, he has interviewed a number of The Beatles’ colleagues and relatives.
Loprete invites listeners to his “Breakfast with The Beatles” (“BWTB”) on Saturdays from 6 to 8 a.m. on WUMB 91.9 FM and online at wumb.org. (Check website for additional Massachusetts dial numbers.) A first step toward syndication, “BWTB” airs in Maine and New Hampshire on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on Seacoast Oldies 92.1 and 97.1 FM and at seacoastoldies.com.
While a high school student working as a page at Cambridge Public Library, Loprete read books that explained how to become a radio deejay. In 1971, he first heard the now-defunct station WBCN FM and particularly appreciated its deejay Charles Laquidara. After graduating from Rindge Technical School in 1975, Loprete got hired at Polaroid in Norwood.
“Working at Polaroid, I was fidgety,” he recalled. “I needed to do something more than be a chemical technician.”
He expressed his passion for WBCN in a letter mailed to Laquidara, whose assistant called Loprete with an offer to volunteer at the station. For a year, Loprete worked days at Polaroid and volunteered nights at WBCN.
“Then on Nov. 22, 1982, WBCN hired me as assistant promotions director,” Loprete said. “It was the greatest day of my life. I was a radio employee.”
A few years later he accepted an offer to host WBCN’s “Get Back to The Beatles.” After WBCN’s parent company acquired WZLX, he began hosting “BWTB” on WZLX in 2005. His program’s long run on WZLX ended in November 2017 when CBS Radio and Entercom merged. In addition to hosting shows, Loprete had worked as marketing and promotions director for WBCN, WZLX and 98.5 The Sports Hub. “BWTB” began airing on WUMB in February 2018.
“WUMB told me that it’s my show, do whatever I want and have fun,” he said. “I love that about WUMB – a great rock-‘n’-roll music attitude.”
“BWTB” features the fab four’s music, history and interviews. Loprete’s first chance to interview a Beatle was in New York City when McCartney released the film “Give My Regards to Broad Street” in 1984.
“That was my first of about a half dozen meetups with Paul,” Loprete noted. “He’s the most easygoing guy. Each time I’ve interviewed Paul has been memorable and a privilege that I’ll never take for granted or ever forget.”
Loprete also relishes social meetings with McCartney. Some of those get-togethers were as a guest of their mutual friend, Tony Bennett.
“I was the first deejay to play Tony Bennett on a rock station,” Loprete said. “Tony heard about it and we’re still friends to this day. He has given me the opportunity to meet Paul a couple of times.”
A particularly memorable occasion was attending the United States premiere of McCartney’s “Liverpool Oratorio” at NYC’s Carnegie Hall in 1991. Afterward, Loprete and Bennett joined McCartney along with a number of celebrities for dinner at the home of entertainment attorney Lee Eastman, Linda McCartney’s late brother.
“It was something most people would never see,” Loprete said. “Paul being just a regular guy hanging out with his friends.”
Loprete has also interviewed Starr several times. They’ve established a unique bond.
“Ringo finds my name to be very funny,” he shared with a laugh. “I have recordings of him making fun of my name, saying, ‘Hey, Cha-Chi, you have a weirder name than I do!’”
A phone interview with Harrison at his home in Hawaii was done after the release of his first Traveling Wilburys album. Afterward, Loprete sent him several Beatles albums, which were mailed back by Harrison with his autograph on each.
“To be a Beatle and do that for someone is amazing,” he said of Harrison’s gesture.
Now living in Middleboro, Loprete recently founded his own company, Next Beat Media Corporation, and is in the process of further syndicating “BWTB.”
“It all comes back to that night in 1964,” he said. “The Beatles’ music carries on from generation to generation. It speaks to everybody no matter what part of life you’re in – it’s universal. I built a career out of something I really love and feel blessed that it’s still continuing.”
Follow “Breakfast with The Beatles” at facebook.com/BreakfastWithTheBeatlesChaChi.