When hard times hit his once-booming company, a Southern grad decided to mix things up by hosting a weekly radio show.
When life gave him lemons, Bobby Beato made a radio show. Beato — who is affectionately referred to as BB — is a booking agent whose business was hard hit by the current economy.
“Because of everything quieting down in the recession. See, I’m a licensed theatric agent since 1982. And I’ve been booking bands and DJs, anything having to do with music,” Beato, who is from the 2500 block of 11th Street, said. “I book Bob Pantano. I book jobs all over the place. The last several years have been prospering with private bar and bat mitzvahs … But the past two to three years it’s slowed down to a crawl. I have to get my name out there, have to be competitive. The money’s not coming in.”
Beato took the tough conditions as a challenge and came up with a new plan: Take to the airwaves.
“I had this thought — I think the lord put it in my mind: Go on the radio.” Beato, 63, said.
The longtime agent decided to put his money where his mouth is and booked an hour’s worth of airtime 10 p.m. Mondays starting last May. The show would be a platform to promote his business and talk about all things weddings and events.
“I was scared to death at first because I’m the guy who normally books the guy behind the mike. I have no ego to feed. I had to reinvent myself and I gotta do this,” he said. “I went on quietly, no advertisement [of the show]. If I was going to foul up and drop microphones and say stupid stuff, I’m going to do it in the first four or five weeks. [If I’m bad] I’m going to stop, but it started getting better.”
Beato’s show, broadcast on Cruisin’ 92.1 WVLT, is the station’s most popular paid-for segment, the host said. Part of the popularity stems from the open format.
“The other night, my producer looked at me and said, ‘You have a phone call.’ So, of course, we put it through and the girl goes, ‘Hi, my name is Brittany and I’d like to dedicate a song to my boyfriend Brandon.’ She said she was 20, but she must have been 13, 14. She was just listening to the show and doesn’t have the slightest idea it was a wedding show. So we played the song. It was just adorable,” Beato, who is now a Richboro resident, said.
Taking callers who ask wedding-related questions, Beato and co-host Anthony Armentani — the guitar player from one of the bands Beato represents and a childhood friend — keep listeners entertained by fielding questions, promoting their services, asking trivia questions and playing clips of bands they hope to book.
“It started out to be a platform to promote and it’s morphed in to other things,” Beato said. “It’s called the Wedding and Entertainment Central Show. I didn’t want to paint myself in a corner. If you aren’t having a wedding, [you can still enjoy the show].”
Beato graduated from Southern, 2101 S. Broad St., in 1965. At the time, we was a “street-corner singer” in a group called “Richie and the Royals.”
“Richie and the Royals had a couple hit records,” Beato said. “Then I joined Anthony and the Sophomores. We had a major hit called ‘Gee’ — really, ‘Oh Gee [(But I’d Give the World)].’ In 1965 it was a major hit record and I really got the bug.”
Beato was drafted in ’66, the same year he went in to the service. He returned home in ’70 and continued where he had left off.
“I was in Purple Reign, that’s how I fed my kids. We did ‘This Old Man’ the disco version. Even Dick Clark played it on [American] ‘Bandstand.’ It was a national top-40,” he said. “I was working with Purple Reign five, six nights a week. I was working and my agent was making more than I was going out and playing the clubs.”
By ’79, Beato decided to move behind the scenes and started working as a junior booking agent for his former agent. Three years in to the training, his boss moved to Las Vegas, and sold Beato the client list.
“Anytime there is a contract between two people in the state of Pennsylvania one of them has to have an agent,” Beato, who became licensed and bonded when he took over the company, said. “My expertise is in the musical end of it, a theatrical agent.”
Since starting in the biz, Beato has never left, weathering many a storm. However, the current downturn has been the hardest yet and forced the longtime entrepreneur to reinvent.
“It’s not that my business stopped entirely. I’m still booking weddings and booking bands,” Beato, who takes an annual test to renew his license, said. “But I have the gift of gab anyway. I’ve got to be able to talk [in my line of work]. On the radio, there is no one to talk to and that is the scary part.
“The first show that was one hour seemed to have lasted 14 hours. But now I need another hour it goes by that quickly. People are calling and we’re playing records and e-mailing and questions. Between Anthony and I there is always something that I can talk about.”