Brushes with fame may be commonplace for those who work in the public eye, but, as WRTI’s Maureen Malloy reports, Bob Perkins has never been too far from the famous, even in the most unlikely of places.
The title of Jimmy Heath’s autobiography, I Walked With Giants, could also describe WRTI’s Bob Perkins. Actually, the Heaths were BP's childhood neighbors on Gerritt Street in South Philadelphia.
In his late-teenage years, Bob worked down the road from the city’s most popular jazz clubs, at a dry cleaners at 21st and Oxford Streets. There, he met the likes of Cab Calloway and Dinah Washington, or, at least, their clothes. It was also where he heard the not-yet-famous Billy Paul sing for the first time. Wanting one of the owners of the cleaners to be his manager, Billy Paul jumped up on the counter and started singing.
After starting in radio in Detroit, BP returned to Philadelphia for a job at WDAS. Their news man was leaving to become the first African American news reporter to work in television. His name was Ed Bradley. In the ’80s, Bob lived for a time in an apartment building at Broad and Stiles in North Philadelphia. He found out that many jazz greats had preceded him there, including Dave Brubeck, Arthur Prysock, and Charlie Parker.
After 25 years in broadcasting, Bob Perkins came to WRTI, where he was able to concentrate solely on the music. He’s hosted and entertained stars like Nancy Wilson, Billy Eckstine, Joe Williams, and masses of others, and is still going strong. Bob Perkins joins the all-jazz 2016 Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame class on October 19th, 2016.