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WBCN’s most enduring personality came to WBCN after returning to Boston in December 1968 from years of acting study. The future DJ hadn’t gotten the big break he needed: at one point he auditioned for the lead role in The Boston Strangler, but as an unknown, lost that part to Tony Curtis (an event Laquidara would rue on the air for his entire career). But his timing at WBCN was perfect: he replaced the departing Peter Wolf just as the station moved into its second home on Stuart Street. Laquidara revealed, “With the advent of underground radio, there was a place for a guy who was simply – real. He didn’t have to have a deep voice, he didn’t have to talk fast or have a golden throat.”
Laquidara became a radio legend when he took WBCN’s AM drive time shift and turned it into his counterculture morning experience called “The Big Mattress.” The show would serve as a template for FM radio wake-up shows everywhere. The DJ remained until 1976, took a 2-year sabbatical, and then returned to the station with even greater popularity. By the 90’s, as the reigning patriarch of WBCN, Laquidara could have been considered an anachronism, but he continued to garner respectable ratings, and his attitude remained as fresh as ever. “I was very aware that times were changing,” he said. “I didn’t want to be like my parents and be one of those people who didn’t let go. When the change comes, you got to deal with it.”
Change came on April 1, 1996 when WBCN yielded under corporate pressure and placed syndicated radio giant Howard Stern in the morning, bumping Laquidara to sister station WZLX. The DJ remained there for four years before happily retiring to a home on beautiful Maui.
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(by Carter Alan)
Carter Alan is a former WBCN DJ now heard on WZLX-FM in Boston. He is the author of Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN (University Press of New England, 2013), available here as well as from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.