It’s not as though Charles Laquidara hasn’t gotten in trouble for his political views before. Years ago, he was nearly fired from WBCN (104.1 FM), now part of the CBS conglomerate, for going off on an advertiser that helped manufacture Agent Orange.
Now it’s happened again, although this time it appears that Charles quit. The Boston Herald’s Inside Track reports that Laquidara decided to stop doing his show for WBOS (92.9 FM) — from semi-retirement in Hawaii — after station management informed him that he was being too political. Among his alleged sins: playing Neil Young’s “Let’s Impeach the President,” from “Living with War,” his best album in years. (And not just because of Young’s political point of view.)
The Herald report follows more than a week of intrigue. On Aug. 17, Clea Simon wrote in the Boston Globe that Laquidara’s ‘BOS program, “Back Spin,” had been canceled. Phil Redo, an executive with WBOS’s corporate owner, Greater Media, called the decision “a mutual parting of the ways.” Laquidara would only tell Simon that he’d been “wanting more time to kayak.”
Laquidara was unhappy with the Globe article and what he called its “smug” attempt to correct it, so he wrote a letter to the paper that he’s reproduced on his blog. Among other things, he says, “With six months left to go on my contract, I resigned — end of story. Just because WBOS accepted my resignation (not that they had any other choice) does not automatically mean the word ‘mutual’ comes into play.”
WBOS has not yet taken down the Laquidara page from its Web site.
The Herald item is based entirely on unnamed sources. Laquidara declines to comment, and Greater Media official Peter Smyth sort-of denies that Charles’ politics were an issue. But if I had to bet, I’d say that the Tracksters got this one exactly right.
Laquidara, for those of you who may be new to Boston, was a legend at ‘BCN in the 1960s (he replaced Peter Wolf) and ’70s, back when the station was an independently owned “underground” operation devoted to experimental music and left-wing politics. The station — and Laquidara — were famous for playing everything from John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” (F-bomb intact) to Monty Python bits, Miles Davis and, on occasion, Tchaikovsky. Along with “News Dissector” Danny Schechter, ‘BCN in those days was simply the only station that mattered if you were young and antiwar. Here’s Charles’ bio.
As WBCN came under corporate ownership in the 1980s and ’90s, his show, “The Big Mattress,” became increasingly conventional. Eventually he was shunted off to sister station WZLX (100.7 FM) and, finally, retirement. Even toward the end, though, Laquidara brought an intelligence and a consciousness to the air that is long gone.
For one hour a day, Charles was back. And now he’s gone again, unless you want to try tuning in here on Wednesdays between noon and 4 p.m.