5 Questions with… Ed Gardella
Written by Emily Morrow on March 1, 2021
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!