Bob Mitchell with Sam Bush and Rhonda Vincent
Bob Mitchell, host of Best of Bluegrass (B.O.B.) on WFPK in Louisville, KY, is set to reach a major milestone this weekend when the several stations who air the program run episode #500.
Mitchell is proud to have served as a volunteer DJ all this time, motivated by his love for the music, and the people that make it. And we are proud to have him among the radio programmers who report to our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay chart.
More than 80 of these programs have been one-on-one interviews with top bluegrass artists, like Dailey and Vincent, Claire Lynch, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Chris Jones, Becky Buller, The Lonesome River Band, Michael Cleveland, Special Consensus, The Po Ramblin’ Boys, and many others.
Bob shared this quick overview of his involvement with the music, and how that led him being on the radio.
“I’ve loved music my entire life. Some of my earliest childhood memories include sitting in front of a radio. I fell in love with country music and big band. When I was in grade school, I borrowed an old guitar from a cousin and I used pennies for picks (that’s mighty hard on strings).
As a child, I rode my bicycle to downtown radio stations, department stores, and used car lots hear country and bluegrass music. Many of the artists I heard and met are now members of the Hall of Fame.
I went to every country concert I could and I saw Hank Williams Sr. at a local baseball park. (The price of admission was one box top from a patent medicine.) At that time, country music, western, and bluegrass were all in the same category and it was frequently called hillbilly. I met and heard Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Johnny Cash, and too many others to name.
I’ve played a guitar since the 1950s, i.e., bluegrass, traditional country, big band, rock-a-billy, Celtic, and folk. I love all of it. I’ve played in churches and bars – even on a steamboat. During and after college, I played guitar in a 12 piece dance band.
About 30 years ago, at a bluegrass concert, the co-editor of Louisville Music News asked me if I would be interested in writing reviews. Eventually, I was writing for LMN, Bluegrass Now, and Bluegrass Music Profiles. In 2010, I was featured as the DJ of the Month in Bluegrass Music Profiles.
A friend of mine (Berk Bryant) had a weekly bluegrass program on local public radio (WFPK-FM) and he allowed me to read reviews and play tracks from new releases. During one of his programs, he asked me if I would like to be a DJ with a show of my own. I said, ‘Yes,’ and he told me to advise administrative staff. I did and eventually, I was allowed to be a substitute program host when he was out of town or ill.
About 2007, I was in Owensboro, KY on a business trip and stopped by the bluegrass museum. I was invited to a pizza lunch the following day, and they discussed their new 24/7 streaming radio station and wondered how they were going to fill the time. I asked to be considered as a DJ and gave them a CD of a program I hosted on public radio. Within several days, they gave me a weekly two hour program. At that point, I went to WFPK-FM to request the use of a studio. Stacy Owen, Program Director, and Louisville Public Media allowed me to use a studio to record the weekly program.
Best of Bluegrass (BOB) began on Radio Bluegrass International in March 2008. The streaming service ended in May 2013 when the Museum began a major fund raising campaign in preparation for its move into a new location. Gabrielle Gray, former Director, suggested I offer my show to interested broadcasters at no cost. I did … and the rest is history.”
The 2-hour show can be heard on 13 stations, on AM, FM, and online. Online listeners can hear the show on Saturday (11/4) from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on The Bluegrass Jamboree, and it will also be broadcast on WCHQ at 100.9 FM in Louisville, which can be heard online.
Mitchell also archives his shows online.