Robert W. “Bob” Mitchell died on January 26 in Louisville, KY following a bout with COVID-19 that he developed after undergoing surgery. He was 83 years of age.
Bob was a popular bluegrass radio personality in and around Louisville, where he hosted a regular program on WFPK, Best of Bluegrass. Listeners will remember his familiar opening to each show… “You’re listening to BOB, and B-O-B stands for Best of Bluegrass!”
Mitchell was recognized with a nomination for Bluegrass DJ of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) four times, and had archived nearly 600 programs at WFPK at the time of his passing.
As often as was possible, Bob would include interviews with bluegrass artists on Best of Bluegrass, and would go to some lengths to make himself available when touring artists were passing through Louisville, arranging studio time at odd hours to accommodate artist schedules. And he always tried to get photos taken of himself in the studio with his musical guests, most of whom also performed live for the show. Over the years Bob put together quite a collection of photos which he genuinely prized.
Though he was a bluegrass fan since he was a boy, Bob didn’t get involved in broadcasting until after he retired from a career in social work, which had included many years as a career trainer and public speaker. The Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers bestowed their Lifetime Achievement Award on Mitchell in 2006, and the Kentucky Counseling Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2009 as a professional speaker and trainer.
Bob played guitar and sang, and recorded an album of his humorous songs back in 1995, Some Days This Place is a Zoo, supported by Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers. He also contributed album reviews to a number of publications during his life, including Bluegrass Now, Bluegrass Music Profiles, and Louisville Music News.
His friendly demeanor and willingness to help out wherever he could is what will be remembered by his radio colleagues, and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum honored him with a Lifetime Membership following his five years of volunteer service helping them launch their Radio Bluegrass International service some years back.
Bob will be deeply missed by his wife and children, and many good friends in the bluegrass world.
A Celebration of Life and Memorial Mass will be held at a later date, to be announced, once concerns about COVID-19 spread are abated. The family requests that any memorial donations be made to Louisville Public Media.
R.I.P., Bob Mitchell.