Chris Carter knows just about everything there is to know about the Beatles. As host of Breakfast With The Beatles, heard every Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon on KLOS (95.5 FM), he has to.
It’s not something you can fake; it has to be in your heart. And it is definitely in Carter’s heart.
He has been hosting the show since 2001 when he took over following the death of original host, Dierdre O’Donoghue, who launched the program in November of 1983. What started as an idea to just play some Beatles records as a fun diversion on Sunday mornings (originally on KMET, now KTWV 94.7 FM) has evolved into the longest-running Beatles program anywhere, playing not just a few records but rarities ... and the stories and trivia behind the songs, the band, and the fans.
Carter has taken the program and made it his own, though he doesn’t quite see it that way. “I’m just the host of the program, much like Jay Leno and now Jimmy Fallen are hosts of The Tonight Show on NBC-TV,” he says humbly.
Yet under his guidance, the program has expanded its scope to include rare records, bootlegs, interviews and much more, as opposed to the original focus on playing commercial releases. He does the program live every Sunday and shows no signs of being burned out on the concept.
“I take the songs and put them into perspective,” he tells me after I ask him how he keeps the program fresh. “Using the music, I try to tell a story, follow a theme, place the music into a certain context, and keep it timely.”
Trivia and fascinating facts tied to people, places and dates in history are a huge part of the program’s appeal, something which Carter says he enjoys.
This week’s program will be particularly interesting on that front, as Breakfast celebrates the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Beatles in the United States to appear on CBS Television’s Ed Sullivan Show February 9th. In fact, Breakfast this Sunday will feature audio from the entire Sullivan show of February 9th, 1964 ... including commercials. “Commercials help keep the historical perspective accurate,” Carter says.
Fascinating facts regarding the appearance? Turns out that the performance on Sullivan was coincidentally the three-year anniversary of The Beatles’ first live concert at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, February 9th, 1961. And the third appearance on Sullivan later in 1964 was actually the first one performed ... it was a taped recording of the afternoon dress-rehearsal at CBS studios in New York.
Carter has every Beatles album -- including those released on real to real tape -- ever made. Commercial releases, bootlegs, imports ... all. Multiple copies in most cases, part of his collection of music from all artists that includes vinyl records numbering close to 7000. And that’s after he cleaned out the duds. His collection of Beatles records began in earnest when he owned a record store in Wayne, New Jersey.
But The Beatles are not his only interest. He’s been in a band himself, one that KROQ (106.7 FM) and Alt 98.7 FM fans will know: Dramarama. Their alternative hit Anything Anything is still popular 28 years after its 1986 release. He produced a critically-acclaimed film that told the story of KROQ personality Rodney Bingenheimer, The Mayor of Sunset Strip. He’s managed bands. But from what I can tell, his first love is The Beatles.
“My first album I bought, when I was about seven, was Rubber Soul.” In an interview with Riprense.com, he explained how at every birthday, every holiday, he would ask for another Beatles album. From there, he says, it just took off.
Carter’s version of Breakfast With The Beatles is good enough to have Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney as listeners and contributors: both have called in to the show in the past. And the program has now been around long enough to out-live two of the three stations on which it has been carried: KMET where it originated, and KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) where it moved in 1987. KLOS has been running the program since 2006.
In addition to Breakfast, Carter has a program on SiriusXM’s Underground Garage (Channel 21) focussing on the music from the more general British Invasion. Hear that program at 6 a.m. -- rebroadcast at 9 p.m. -- Sundays.