by Brenda Hillegas
It’s a format that has been copied over and over, throughout various cities and on many stations. Now, American’s longest running Beatles radio show, broadcasting every Sunday morning on Los Angeles’s 95.5 KLOS FM, is about to celebrate its 30th year on air.
“Everyone likes the Beatles,” says the show’s host, Chris Carter. “Amazingly, half of our listeners are under 25. At a Paul McCartney concert, you’ll see one row of kids, hippies, etc. all singing along. It’s an interesting dynamic.”
Breakfast with the Beatles began in 1983 on the now defunct KMET station. Carter earned the job as host after the show’s original host, DJ Deirdre O’Donoghue, passed away in unexpectedly in 2001.
“I used to listen to the show,” Carter says. “She just didn’t show up one morning. That’s sad but the second thought was what’s going to happen to the show?”
After O’Donoghue’s passing, the show ran a contest to see who would take over. “Five or so people took turns hosting,” explains Carter. “People voted and I won.”
Carter expanded the show’s length to three hours of music and played the Beatles’ hits, hard to find rarities, outtakes, and solo recordings. Obviously a Beatles fan himself, at seven-years-old his first record was <i>Rubber Soul, Carter collected the very basic of Beatles memorabilia- their music.
“I’m a fan of the music,” he says. “I’ve tried to acquire everything they have in terms of music. I think I have almost everything they recorded.”
Before hosting the show, Chris Carter was a member of the L.A. based alternative rock band Dramarama, and the writer/producer of the award winning film Mayor of the Sunset Strip about influential radio disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer. Carter also established QM Management, representing The Wondermints. He has personally interviewed Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Pete Best. Over the years, listeners of Breakfast with the Beatles have also heard Carter’s interviews with those closest to the band such as Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, Olivia Harrison, Dhani Harrison, and Pattie Boyd.
“It’s great to be accepted by the inner circle,” he says. “It’s a good place to be!”
Other Breakfast with the Beatles highlights include guests appearances by The Bangles, Peter Asher, Wings, The Smithereens, The Monkees, and original members of The Quarrymen (who evolved into The Beatles). With so many on-air interviews with people directly involved in The Beatles’ long-storied history, it’s hard for Carter to pick one of his most memorable moments. But he tries.
“We do contests and quizzes,” he explains. “Paul McCartney called in and won. He won a Ringo album! Just what he always wanted!”
Carter has become the de facto Beatles resource appearing on a variety of television and news shows to talk about the Fab Four. Often times, he is called upon to host various events and participate in projects on The Beatles’ behalf. “I recently participated in a round table discussion with Mark Lewisohn,” says Carter of the English author and historian who is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on The Beatles. “I also host Lennon memorials on his birthday and death.”
In October, Carter presented a listening party for McCartney’s New album, inviting people to a Los Angeles area drive in to sit in their cars and hear the album via the theatre’s FM transmitter. But now, Carter is gearing up for Breakfast with the Beatles tomorrow morning where everyone will be celebrating the 30th anniversary with an on-air party.
“We invited everyone who has ever appeared on the radio show,” Carter says.
“I think it goes without saying how much Beatles fans owe to the late Deirdre O’Donoghue for creating this brilliant show for Southern California radio listeners,” Carter once said. He’s honored to be doing what he has been for last 12 years and promises to continue doing the best he can to keep the show alive until it’s time for the next person to carry the weight. He isn’t stopping anytime soon, though- 2014 is going to be big.
“We have the big 50th of The Beatles coming to America,” he says about their arrival in 1964. “The Grammy’s are doing something.”
Of course, Carter will be doing something to commemorate the date as well. But, he’s also working hard on his other project, Chris Carter’s British Invasion. The show is on XM and he plays songs by Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and everyone in between- all of these artists most likely influenced by The Beatles in some way.
Tomorrow morning, before you shovel out your car and step out into the cold, make some breakfast and listen live via the station’s website. The Beatles are always worth celebrating.