Larry Loprete was born in 1957 in Brighton, Massachusetts and raised in Cambridge. On February 9th,1964, Larry’s life changed forever when he saw the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“I wanted to be Ringo. I wanted to be a Beatle. It was from that moment on that I always carried my transistor radio, and consumed everything Beatles! I lived at the local mom and pop record stores, but found the nucleus of it all, the record department of the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square.”
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the first record he ever bought and the rest, as they say, is history. To Larry, music was everything. He began playing drums and played in local bands in the late 1960s & ’70s. At a very young age for such important declarations, he decided that he wanted his life career to be a radio disc jockey in Boston and, of course, meet The Beatles. He would fulfill both dreams.
In 1970, Larry became a devoted listener of 104.1FM, WBCN. “The variety of music, the attitude, the humor. This was not our parents’ radio station!” But it was the DJs that made the radio station even more exciting and groundbreaking: Charles Laquidara, Ken Shelton, Maxanne Satori, and others.
For Larry, his decades-long career at WBCN began with a letter he wrote to Charles Laquidara in 1981. Tired of his going-nowhere job at Polaroid, he described his dream in his letter to Charles, to work at WBCN.
Shortly thereafter, he received a phone call from the station offering a volunteer position on the BCN Listener Line, all made possible by Laquidara. Larry arrived at the station at 7:00pm on a Saturday night wearing a suit. He didn’t leave until the next morning at 7:00am.
Larry went on to spend as much time at WBCN as possible, volunteering to handle any task for anyone working at the station.
In November of 1982, he was hired by WBCN Marketing Director David Bieber to be the Assistant Promotions Director.
In 1984, WBCN News Director Mat Schaffer bestowed Larry the radio nickname “Cha-Chi.” His theory was that people will forget Larry, but they’re not going to forget Cha-Chi. He was correct!
In 1985, WBCN’s Program Director, Oedipus, had the idea to create a new radio show called “Get Back to the Beatles.” Cha-Chi’s passion for The Beatles had become widely known at the station, so it made perfect sense to Oedipus to name Cha-Chi as the host, despite the fact that he never hosted a radio show in his life. Cha-Chi hosted the show from 1985-1997.
In 1986, WBCN Program Director, Oedipus asked Cha-Chi if he and fellow Beatles fan WBCN Production Director Tom Sandman would travel to The Plaza Hotel in New York City to represent WBCN and record an interview with Paul McCartney. This would become the first of Cha-Chi’s many interviews and meetings with Sir Paul. Over the years he has interviewed and met with Ringo, George Harrison, George Martin, Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, Cynthia Lennon, Patti Boyd Harrison, Pete Best, and many other Beatles people. In the late 80s, Cha-Chi worked closely with The Channel Nightclub and it was there that he met Danny Bennett who managed two Boston bands, and was also the son of Tony Bennett. Cha-Chi and Danny Bennett became friends and communicated regularly on business and their love for The Beatles.
Shortly thereafter, Danny invited Cha-Chi to join him in New York City to meet his dad. Tony’s career, now managed by Danny, was at a crossroads. Cha-Chi approached Oedipus about the possibility of interviewing Tony Bennett and playing his music on WBCN. Oedipus said “yes”!
This began the resurgence of Tony Bennett’s career. His albums began selling to an entirely new, younger audience. Because of the nationwide industry respect for WBCN, a subtle message was delivered to rock stations around the country that it was okay to play the music of Tony Bennett. In fact, Tony began a tour of alternative rock concerts and radio sponsored festivals.
In 2001, CBS Radio, the owners of WBCN, purchased Boston’s Classic Rock, 100.7FM WZLX. Shortly thereafter Cha-Chi became the Marketing & Communications Director for both WBCN and WZLX.
As “Get Back To The Beatles” on WBCN concluded its decades long run, Cha-Chi soon took over the hosting duties of “Breakfast With The Beatles” on WZLX which ran from 2005-2017.
In 2017, as CBS Radio began to sell off its assets including Boston radio stations 98.5-The Sports Hub and WZLX, “Breakfast With The Beatles with Cha-Chi Loprete” ended its run on WZLX in November 2017. WUMB 91.9FM in Boston picked up the show in February 2018, where it is currently broadcast on Saturday mornings. Soon after, 92.1FM & 97.1FM Seacoast Oldies in New Hampshire and Maine respectively, broadcast the show on Sunday mornings.
Cha-Chi has since become regarded as Boston’s Beatles Historian.
In 2015- 2016 he hosted, wrote and narrated five Beatles inspired performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall, three with the Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart called “Pops Play The Beatles,” and two with Guest Conductor Steve Hackman entitled “The Beatles And Beyond.”
Cha-Chi has since partnered with Beatles film archivist Erik Taros to create a series of stage shows that feature rare and privately owned Beatles films and stories.Their newest production is called “My Sweet George: A George Harrison Birthday Tribute.” Other titles include “Magical History Tour: A Beatles Experience,” “Maybe I’m Amazed: A Paul McCartney Birthday Tribute,” “Here, There and Everywhere: The Beatles In The U.S.A.” and others.
He and Taros are currently working on a Beatles documentary.
It all started in 1964 for Larry “Cha-Chi” Loprete, when he saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. He has since become one of the key figures in the WBCN story and continues to live his dream as a radio broadcaster, and a significant figure in the world of the Beatles.
(by Fred Bramante – February 2022)