Ed Gardella / Jazz Host
Ed Gardella shows
“It seems there was always music in the house, mostly because of my mother. She was a big fan. On Sunday it was opera and classical and Carlo Butti during dinner at 2:00. Growing up, there was Frank Sinatra, always Sinatra, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and the big bands. As a teenager, I often listened to WNEV in Worcester and WNEW out of New York City and became familiar with the American Songbook. Following high school and three years in the Marine Corps, I attended radio school in Boston. I worked in commercial radio for a few years in Ware (W-A-R-E) and in Leominster (W-L-M-S). I used to listen to Joe Slezak on WNEB and eventually became friends nearly 50 years ago. Of course, I was only two.
My path took a completely different turn in my late 20’s when I joined the Worcester Police Department. I found WICN, again thanks to my mother, and have been a fan for forty+ years. On occasion, while still working, Gene Petit would ask me to ‘fill-in’ and shortly after retirement in 2000, I was asked to host the Friday Jazz Matinee, now called Standard Time. I open every hour with a Sinatra song in memory of my mother.
I fill my hours each week volunteering at UMass Medical Center and doing some committee work and fundraising. I particularly like being involved with the Plant the Seed Foundation and serving on the board of the 365Z Foundation. For recreation, I enjoy traveling, biking, hiking and, of course, still dreaming about that elusive “hole in one” on the golf course.
Over the years I have met many talented, knowledgeable and dedicated men and women at WICN. Dedicated to the music they love and excited about introducing new music and artists to our listening audience. As for me, I’m still in love with the American Songbook but enjoy listening to many of the programs WICN has to offer. There really is no station like it. The small administrative staff works tirelessly and most of the on-air personnel and behind-the-scenes staff are volunteers. People who give of themselves for little or no money to keep us going every day…for nearly 50 years. I am proud and humbled to be a part of WICN.”
5 Questions with Ed Gardella
What brought you to hosting a show on WICN? Why do you love being on the air?
I first became aware of WICN in the late ‘70s, when I was about 3 years old (Editor’s note: Ed is joking). My mother was an ardent fan of the station and had it on from morning till evening. I was also drawn to WICN when my friend Joe Slezik, who had been with WNEB in Worcester, joined the staff many years ago. It was and still is the only radio station within driving distance to play the type of music I enjoy. Very early on, I attended a radio broadcasting school in Boston and worked as a staff announcer, sportscaster, and newsman at two other radio stations. About 22 years ago, I was asked to fill in a few times and eventually invited to host the Friday slot.
What is your favorite WICN memory?
Prior to COVID, every week it was a pure delight to meet with other members of the station staff. Conversations were centered on what we could do to improve the station and increase listenership. It was then that I was asked to leave! Only joking! Everyone, paid or volunteer, brings their distinctive, individual talents to their programs. As different as our personalities may be, our love of the station binds us. Perhaps, what comes to mind most often is when staff announcer Joe Zupan was diagnosed with cancer. Pamela Hines gathered a bunch of us together and we organized a night of music at Nick’s on Millbury Street for Joe. I was honored and thrilled to be the emcee. The place was packed and musicians near and far came to donate their talents for a much loved and respected friend. I was close to Joe and I will always remember how his WICN family came to his side. Our on-air studio is dedicated to Joe.
FILL IN THE BLANK: The best concert I ever saw was ______________?
Just to name a few dozen incredible performances I have seen includes Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ramsey Lewis, Buddy Rich, Jack Jones, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Greco, Frank D’Rone, Jim Porcella, John Denver, Audra MacDonald, Diana Krall, Sergio Franchi, Sammy Davis, Jr, John Pizzarelli, Carmen McRae, Harry Connick, Jr, Karrin Allyson, The Highwaymen, Andrea Bocelli, Mel Torme, B.B. King, Donna Byrne, Theodore Bikel, Diahann Carroll, Carol Sloane, Dave Brubeck, Andy Williams, Rebecca Parris, Arthur Prysock, The Mills Brothers, Bucky Pizzarelli, The Four Freshmen, Monty Alexander, Kurt Elling, Catherine Russell, Maureen McGovern, Bill Charlap, Chuck Mangione, Kenny Hadley, Wynton Marsalis, Kenney Burrell, Tommy Flanagan, and James Taylor. But, I believe, the concert that was most thrilling was Luciano Pavarotti in Boston. When he appeared in Worcester I was invited by a friend to the rehearsal and managed to get within a few feet of the maestro. It was memorable.
Many listeners don’t know that the majority of our hosts are volunteers that do this out of a personal passion. What do you/did you do professionally off the air?
I can’t list them alphabetically but here are a few ways I earned money; I shined shoes; had a paper route; delivered milk; mowed lawns; several years a caddie; worked at a dry cleaner; picked dead fish out of Lake Quinsigamond; sold insurance (perhaps the worst insurance salesman ever); was an orderly at Worcester City Hospital; worked construction; radio announcer; and did a stint in law enforcement.
Who are your favorite artists and/or albums of all time? I could say refer to question #3 as many of those are artists I like and admire. Several of them I got to interview and meet through WICN. John Pizzarelli, Donna Byrne, and husband Marshall Wood and Karrin Allyson and I became very friendly because of WICN. And, perhaps because of my mother, Francis Albert Sinatra holds the #1 spot. In our home, Mom put up pictures of the Pope and Sinatra. Guess which one she talked to the most!