When AndreGardner was a preschooler, his parents used to call him “Baby Beatle,” because he was always dancing around the house to the band’s music. Today, he hosts WMGK’s Breakfast with the Beatles onSunday mornings—our Best Radio Show. Gardner spoke with MLT about his lifelong relationship with the band.
MLT: How did you start in the radio business?
AG: I had wanted to be in radio since I was 8 or 9. My dad was anengineer at KYW, and he built me a station in my bedroom when I wasa teenager. All I ever wanted to do was be on the radio, and when Iwas 16 years old, I got a job at WPST-FM. I couldn’t even drive to work yet.
MLT: When did you start Breakfast with the Beatles?
AG: I did a Beatles show in 1989 when I was at YSP. [Gardner worked at WYSP from 1988-93.] After I left there, I was in New York, mostly off the air.When I came to WMGK [in 2002], I started the show.
MLT: What do you try to accomplish with each show?
AG: There is such an incredible history of the band, its members’ soloefforts, and its influence. It would be easy just to play 30 Beatles songs, but there is such a universe of material to glean, whether it’s George Harrison playing with Cream or Paul McCartney writing a song for someone else.I can play rare stuff that people haven’t heard. I love to play a number ofdifferent takes of a song to see how it developed.
MLT: What type of person listens to your show?
AG: You can’t really classify Beatles fans. They come from all walks of life.Itblows me away continually, when I’m out at a public appearance, howmany young people have gotten into the band. Seeing young people like them warms my heart. I guarantee you, people will continue to love themfor generations.
MLT: Which Beatles have you met?
AG: I have met Paul and Ringo. I had a chance to meet John and was thwarted by illness. In addition to working at KYW-AM, my dad worked on TheMike Douglas Show. (It aired nationally from the Philadelphia studios from 1965 to 1981.) John Lennon was going to cohost the show [in 1972], and I was going to meet him. But I got the flu, and my mom wouldn’t let me go. I thought my dad would get me an autograph, but he wanted to kiss his boss’ ass, so he got him an autograph.
AG: I met Paul on my second day on the job at WMGK. They set me upfor an interview. I have interviewed him three times and Ringo three times. The nicest rock star I’ve ever met is Paul McCartney. When you sit down with him, he knows you’re petrified, so he goes out of his way to make you feel good.
MLT: What is Ringo like?
AG: He’s his own guy, all about peace and love. He had a thing on his website not too long ago where he said he wasn’t going to sign anymoreautographs—that’s how he is. But he was the heartbeat of the Beatles.He wasn’t flashy, but he had that steady backbeat.
MLT: Do you still enjoy it?
AG: I really still do get juiced every week. There’s always a new direction to go. My goal at every show is to play at least one song that a person listening hasn’t heard before.