Charles' Fame : WBCN legend is up for Hall of Fame
Charles Laquidara has been nominated to the Radio Hall of Fame, it was announced yesterday. He was cited in part because his "'The Big Mattress' was a pioneer effort in FM broadcasting, on WBCN/Boston for over 30 years. It was one of the first FM shows to feature a shifting on-air cast, including producers, writers and a production team. Known for his eclectic musical tastes, the outspoken Laquidara was never bashful about his criticism of corporate governance and right-wing politics.'
Laquidara is one of five personalities nominated in the 'regional or local - pioneer' category by a national advisory committee. The on-line voting process will be open to the public at www.radiohof.org beginning June 14 and concluding August 1. The results will be announced on August 4th which happens to be the anniversary of his final Boston morning show on WZLX in 2000. Ballot winners will be inducted Nov.6 in Chicago.
Laquidara hosted the hugely popular ''The Big Mattress'' on WBCN 104.1 for the better part of 25 years. On April 1, 1996, he moved over to sister station WZLX 100.7 to make room for Howard Stern who ironically is also among this year's Hall of Fame nominees in the 'national - active' category.
Laquidara, a Milford Mass native, was a struggling young actor in Hollywood in the 1960s when he took his first job in radio, as an announcer for classical music station KPPC-FM in Pasadena, Calif.When the station changed its format to what was then referred to as ''underground rock,'' Laquidara began to develop a reputation as a pioneer in a radio movement that was closely linked to the protest culture of the 1960s.In 1969, he was hired at WBCN to replace disc jockey Peter Wolf, who would go on to become the lead singer of the J. Geils Band.
In 1972, he was named host of the station's legendary morning-drive show. On his website, www.bigmattress.com, Laquidara explains how he came up with the unusual name for the show:''It seemed to conjure up images of thousands of listeners, from hundreds of different towns in New England, all on this huge, imaginary mattress all waking up to the sounds of rock and roll from their radios before they went off to school or work.''In 1996, WBCN replaced Laquidara in the morning with Howard Stern. Laquidara moved to sister station WZLX, and that station's ''classic rock'' format featured many of the same songs he played when the music was new and considered ''underground rock.''
Last September, Laquidara was among a group of Boston radio and TV legends inducted into Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.