Charles Laquidara was the morning man for the pioneering free form radio station WBCN in Boston for over 25 years and was among the highest paid radio personalities in the U.S. He was one of the first morning show hosts to have a staff of writers and a cast of comic characters but, was also known for using his show, “The Big Mattress” to take on major issues like the Vietnam War and Apartheid in South Africa. Laquidara was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2009.
On Wednesday, December 23, Laquidara will be at the Regent Theatre in Arlington to speak about his three decades of the music and mayhem on Boston’s WBCN and WZLX. There will also be a screening of “I Am What I Play,” a documentary feature on the heyday of rock radio directed by Roger King who will also be on hand to introduce his rockumentary which is about four DJ’s and the days of free form radio.
These days, Charles entertains his fans with an eclectic mix of classic hits, avant-garde tunes, old Big Mattress bits and current musings on the internet at charleslaquidararadio
Examiner spoke with Laquidara via telephone from his home in Hawaii. Here’s what he had to say.
Amy Nachbar: Tell us about your radio show on the internet. How does it compare with that of WBCN?
Charles Laquidara: I don’t have a boss any more so my show is a lot more free. I can say what I want, do what I want and play whatever I want. I never know what I’m going to say next.
AN: The ‘Big Mattress’ back in the day touched on some subjects others didn’t want to talk about. What are some of the subjects that are at the top of your, let’s talk about list?
CL: Actually I talk about anything and everything. I could be eating an ice cream cone and will share how much I like my ice cream with my listeners. On a more serious note I’ll speak of politics, ISIS, and maybe the climate change. Or why do people tint their windows. Then they beep at you and expect you to see who they are.
AN: The film that will be screened at the Regent on Wednesday, features four DJ’s from free form radio, you are one, who are the others?
CL: The film is called, “I Am What I Play.” It features four DJ’s, including myself. David Marsden, a Canadian radio broadcaster in the 1980’s and the driving force behind Brampton, Ontario radio station CFNY. Meg Griffin an American radio disc jockey who started her career alongside Howard Stern at WRNW in New York. She’s currently heard on the Sirius XM Satellite Radio channels The Loft, Classic Vinyl, and Deep Tracks. Pat O’Day, a Pacific Northwest broadcaster and promoter who is best known as the afternoon drive personality at Seattle’s KJR 950 in the 1960s. He eventually become program director and general manager. In the mid-70’s and 80’s he owned KYYX – FM 96.5 Radio in Seattle.
AN: All of the years you worked at WBCN, who was the one rock star, musician, that you sat back and said, wow? Any crazy stories you want to share about the music and mayhem that surrounded the world of rock & roll?
CL: We never looked at the musicians as being rock stars. They were just great musicians. Often times many would stop by the station after their show and just hang out with us, smoke pot, get high, laugh. I remember Duane Allman walked in with Jerry Garcia after a Boston show. They were just cool guys to hang out with and get high.
Mick Taylor came in one day and I didn’t know who he was. I asked him his name and he said, Mick Taylor. So, I asked him what he was doing? He said he was going on tour with the Rolling Stones.
I think I was most nervous during my first interview. It was with George Harrison. I met him and told him I was with a small underground radio station. It must have peaked his interest.
As far as crazy stories, there are a zillion but most you wouldn’t want to print here. Afterall, I did do it for 30 years.
AN: What do you think of politics now? Sort of like a reality show?
CL: Yes, a reality show. Back then, most musicians were left winged liberal. Now look at Ernie Boch, he’s supporting Trump. Who would have thought?
AN: Hawaii? You know we’re all jealous of your move to Hawaii. Afterall, you are living in paradise every day. What are you doing over there? Do you sit on the beach and collect shells?
CL: Well, I’m doing my radio show charleslaquidararadio. I moved to Hawaii 16 years ago. WBCN got me to be where I am today. I swim every single day, and exercise. That’s something you don’t get to do in Boston because the weather doesn’t permit that.