Gary F. Frascarelli (known on radio as Gary Francis) was born on August 31, 1952 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He attended public schools in Lowell through the 6th grade. Junior High took him to St. Margaret’s School and high school was at Keith Academy. He then went on to St. Thomas College in Bloomfield, CT and Wadhams Hall in Ogdensburg, NY. While in high school, Gary worked part-time at WCAP Radio in Lowell as a producer and announcer. He also worked part-time for Glennie’s Ice Cream, the originator of the road-side ice cream stand concept in the 1930’s.
After college, Gary went into full-time radio working at stations including: WRKO, Boston – WBZ, Boston – WMEX, Boston – WDRC, Hartford – WOTW, Nashua – WSMN, Nashua – WVBF, Boston, and was the voice-over person behind many commercials and audio presentations on the east coast.
In 1973, Gary’s family purchased an out-of-business ice cream shop on the Lowell/East Chelmsford border. The shop opened on August 9, 1973 and quickly become known for its excellent ice cream in large portions at fair prices. Gary passed the business on to 3 employees when he retired at the end of the 2020 Season.
In the late 80’s, Gary went back into radio again – this time filling in for Gene Burns on WRKO’s Dining Around show on Sunday mornings. Gary did this for 4 years and continued hosting the show for a time after Gene Burns left Boston. In 1993, Gary went to work at New Hampshire’s WNNH, Oldies-99 as production director and mid-day disc jockey (10am – 2pm) playing the hits of the 50’s – 70’s.
In the late 80’s, Gary also opened a store at Salisbury Beach, Mass. Over the next 5 years he expanded from just a Gary’s Ice Cream shop to the operator of a candy store, t-shirt shop, temporary tattoo shop, a game of chance and was the foodservice coordinator for Shaheen Enterprises (one of the major operators of Salisbury Beach).
During his tenure at Salisbury Beach, Gary’s life took a major unexpected turn back into entertainment. One night, a Salisbury Beach merchant hired a local mobile deejay to host a “record hop” type show in the center of the beach amusement area to attract people. It was fairly successful. Gary’s landlord Roger Shaheen noticed this and knowing Gary’s radio background asked if he could do this every now and then. Gary said sure, he had some old equipment that he had used to do “hops” in the 70’s, so he gave it a try – thus was born The Salisbury Beach Sock Hop which would eventually become The Saturday Night Sock Hop on Salisbury Beach.
Many of the shows were captured on cassette and have been buried in the archives, never to be heard again… until now. Of course with any cassette recording, there are gaps as the tape needed to be flipped or move on to the next tape so, not all of them can be made whole easily. Below, you will be able to play back an entire sockhop from start to finish and relive the show with us.
The Saturday Night Sock Hop existed for 19 seasons at Salisbury Beach from 1990 – 2008. The show was held at the top of the “Mall”, an outdoor area surrounded by amusements, arcades, food shops and the ocean and beach. The show featured antique cars on display many weeks from groups like The Chrome Roamers, Gate City Corvette Club, NH Mustang Club, North Shore Old Car Club and more. The show attracted upwards of 1,000 people each week for the hits of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The Sock Hop also featured dance contests (Twist, Electric Slide, Chicken Dance, and more), along with Trivia questions. During a 1994 Saturday Night Sock Hop a couple from Haverhill, Mass were married at the show by Gary, who had been given the power to act as justice of the peace for the day by Governor Bill Weld. In 2002, Gary began a new daily talk show on WCAP Radio called Afternoon Live. In 2004, Gary left the daily co-hosting duties of Afternoon Live – but became News Director and Morning News Anchor of “The Morning Information Team” until 2008.
Most recently, The Saturday Night Sockhop had returned to WCAP and the Greater Lowell area as a fill in to replace the lack of Lowell Spinners games and due to the demand of his listeners, stayed on beyond its planned summer slot. The local version of The Saturday Night Sockhop can be heard on Saturday Nights from 7-9pm on AM 980 WCAP and can also be streamed live from the main page of this site or from https://980wcap.com/ and on many streaming mobile apps (in case you are out of the area).
Gary is also an active ham radio operator – W1GFF. Gary has also taken up Oil Painting. You can see a gallery of his work here: https://garyfrascarelli.com