Art of Aging: Bob Perkins, a Philly Institution

A Philadelphia man has become an institution by keeping the sounds of Philly and American Jazz alive for decades.

Bob Perkins, WRTI DJ has been spinning music in Philadelphia since 1969. He got his love of jazz from his dad and brother, and the desire to DJ from one of the great voices he heard.

"There was a magnificent guy with a stentorian voice named Facenda, John Facenda," said Perkins.

As a young man, he was convinced that being a DJ was an improbable dream. So his first job was with an insurance company.

Then fate stepped in. There was a radio station on the floor above his office, and they had an opening.

"For a great loss of money, I took the job upstairs for a dollar and a quarter an hour. And, I had to take a job at the Ford Motor Company to afford to stay in radio."

Perkins started his radio career in Detroit before settling in at WRTI where he has become a Philadelphia jazz radio legend. Affectionately known as Bob Perkins with the Good Music.

Bill Johnson, WRTI Station Manager says, "Every time you turn on the radio and hear BP with the GM, you know you are hearing somebody who is committed to music. He celebrates the musicians, he celebrates the music, and he celebrates the history."

Although he doesn't play an instrument, Perkins orchestrates each show as carefully as a band leader, crafting his play list from thousands of choices.

"What goes with what, it's almost like dressing. You know you put the shirt on, the tie, the sport coat and the pants and everything has to be like an ensemble," he said.

Perkins has met all the greats and MC'd for everyone from Nancy Wilson to Wynton Marsalis.
"We hang out here Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., said Perkins.

He says he has no plans on hanging up his headsets anytime soon.

"Doing something enjoyable, why stop?" said Perkins with a big smile.

For more stories about seniors, please visit our Art of Aging section.
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