Cha-Chi Loprete

Cha-Chi Loprete

Larry “Cha-Chi” Loprete was born in 1957 in Brighton, Massachusetts, and raised in Cambridge. Like countless others of his generation, his life changed forever when he saw The Beatles debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.

“I wanted to be Ringo. I wanted to be a Beatle,” he recalls with a smile. “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.”


Loprete started playing drums in elementary school and was in a few groups in the late ‘60s and early ’70s but decided that he wanted to be a deejay instead of a working musician, partly because that would give him the best chance to meet the Fab Four one day. In 1970, he became a devoted listener of what was then Boston’s top FM rock station, WBCN. “The variety of music, the attitude, the humor,” he explains. “This was not our parents’ radio station!” ‘BCN on-air personalities like Charles LaquidaraKen Shelton and Maxanne Sartori made the groundbreaking station irresistible to his teenage ears, he says.

Loprete’s decades-long career at WBCN began in 1981, after the then 24-year old wrote a letter to Laquidara. Tired of his going-nowhere job at Polaroid, he told the ever-popular morning man – then the wildly popular host of The Big Mattress – that his dream was to work at the station in any capacity that he could. Shortly thereafter, as a direct result of his contacting Laquidara, the station offered him a volunteer role answering calls on the ‘BCN listener line. Loprete arrived at the station at 7pm on a Saturday night (wearing a suit, though no such dress code existed at ‘BCN) and didn’t leave until 7am the next morning. He spent as much time as he could at the station, volunteering to help with any task for anyone working there.

In November 1982, his impressive work ethic paid off when he was hired by WBCN’s Marketing Director David Bieber as assistant promotions director. In 1984, WBCN News Director Mat Schaffer bestowed Loprete with the handle “Cha-Chi,” his theory being that people would easily forget a name like “Larry” but always remember a name like “Cha-Chi.” He was right.


In 1985, WBCN’s Program Director Oedipus decided to create a new radio show called Get Back to The Beatles. Since Loprete’s passion for the group was widely known to everyone at the station, it made perfect sense for Oedipus to make him the host, despite the fact that Loprete never hosted a radio show in his life. He remained the voice of the show for the next 12 years.

In 1986, Oedipus sent Loprete and fellow Beatles uberfan Tom Sandman (the station’s production director) to The Plaza Hotel in New York City to represent WBCN and record an interview with Paul McCartney, which became the first of Loprete’s many interviews and meetings with Sir Paul. Over the years, he’s sat down face to face with Ringo Starr and George Harrison in addition to a number of people closely associated with The Beatles such as George Martin, Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, Cynthia Lennon, Patti Boyd Harrison and Pete Best.


In the late ‘80s, Loprete met Danny Bennett, who was managing two Boston bands and happened to be the son of legendary crooner Tony Bennett. The two became friends and spoke often about business and their love for The Beatles. Shortly after meeting, Danny invited him to New York City to meet his father, whose career (then managed by Danny) was at a crossroads. When Loprete asked Oedipus about the possibility of interviewing the iconic singer and playing his songs on ‘BCN, Oedipus said “yes” in a heartbeat.

As it turned out, the decision jump started the resurgence of Bennett’s career since 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 across the US that it was okay – even cool! – to have Bennett’s music in rotation. As a result, the living legend started appearing at alt- and indie-rock concerts and festivals across North America and Europe.


In 2001, the owners of WBCN, CBS Radio, purchased WZLX (“Boston’s Classic Rock” and Loprete was promoted to marketing and communications director for both WBCN and WZLX. After Get Back To The Beatles concluded its decades-long run on ‘BCN, he began hosting Breakfast with The Beatles on WZLX, which he did from 2005 until late 2017. In February 2018, WUMB in Boston picked up the show and it continues to be aired on that station on Saturday mornings. In later years, “Seacoast Oldies” stations 92.1 FM (New Hampshire) and 97.1 FM (Maine) started broadcasting Breakfast with The Beatles on Sunday mornings.


Considered Boston’s leading Beatles historian, Loprete hosted, wrote and narrated five Beatles-inspired performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall in 2015 and 2016, three with the Boston Pops (conducted by Keith Lockhart) called “Pops Play The Beatles” and two with Guest Conductor Steve Hackman called “The Beatles and Beyond.”

Since then, he’s partnered with film archivist Erik Taros to create a series of stage shows that feature rare and privately-owned Beatles films and stories; their latest production is “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” and “Here, There and Everywhere: The Beatles in the USA.” Loprete and Taros are currently working on a Beatles documentary.

(by Fred Bramante)

Fred Bramante was the founder and chief executive of Daddy’s Junky Music.

Published On: February 24, 2022