A Photo Album Featuring WRTI Jazz Host Bob Craig
Wed March 5, 2014
Radio Pro Bob Craig: 50 Years On The Air and Counting!
WRTI's much-loved jazz host Bob Craig is celebrating a milestone - 50 years on the air! We're so proud of Bob. He's a seasoned pro, and we're extremely fortunate that he's a part of our WRTI family. Here's his story...
Bob began his radio career in 1963 as a studio engineer at WBZ in Boston. A year later, and through the 1970s, he was an announcer at various stations in New England, including Hartford’s WDRC, and Boston’s WHDH. His first programming job was at WICH in Norwich, CT, in 1966. He updated its old-line “middle-of-the-road” format, freshened the sound, and gained broader demos, larger audience, and increased revenue.
In 1970, Bob decided he was ready for a medium market, so it was off to Hartford’s WDRC-AM, where he held down the midday slot for almost five years. In early 1976, he realized that with the emergence of such popular artists as Billy Joel, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, who not only had hit singles but hit albums, there was a format that could serve a 25-44 audience with a softer blend of TOP 40 and AOR. He convinced the ownership of WWYZ-FM in Hartford that they had nothing to lose by being the bottom-ranked station in the market, and everything to gain by becoming one of the first “soft-rock” stations in the country. Within a year, YZ’s ratings leaped into the top five, not only in Hartford, but in New Haven as well.
In 1979, the success of YZ caught the attention of Greater Media’s WMGK-FM in Philadelphia. Bob was hired away to breathe new life into radio’s original “Magic” format. Within a year, he revamped and updated the station to become a role model for the industry in “adult contemporary” formats. Its ratings jumped from a 2.9 when he arrived to a 9.0 in the fall of 1980. Throughout the 1980s, WMGK consistently ranked among the top three Philadelphia radio stations in the 25-54 demo. Bob also introduced the market to “Smooth Jazz,” hosting a popular Sunday morning show on WMGK.
Shifting gears in the 1990s, Bob walked down the hall to Greater Media’s premier “Adult Standards” WPEN, where he put his headphones back on and returned to the airwaves, holding down various air shifts before settling into the mid-day slot, which included the highly popular “Solid Hour of Sinatra.” Soon Bob was tapped again by Greater Media to assume programming and music director duties, and he remained until the station retired the format in 2004. He was heard daily, again, presenting his “Solid Hour of Sinatra” on WHAT 1340 AM in Philadelphia, from 2007-2009.
Since 2005, Bob has been on the air at WRTI, where he’s delighted to present - in his well-informed and engaging way - one of his true loves: real jazz. Every Sunday evening at 7 pm he hosts Big Band Jazz with Bob Craig and every Sunday afternoon you can hear his weekly three-hour program, Voices in Jazz, on WRTI HD-2 and the all-jazz stream at wrti.org.
Bob lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his wife Sharon Eisenhour, a broadcast performance teacher at Temple University who is also a voiceover artist and voice coach. And there’s Bandit, their border collie mix, who’s a therapy dog. Ongoing projects include scouting down rare records to add to his 10,000-disc jazz and pop collection, and recording audio book reads for Hachette Publishing. An enthusiast of pop culture since childhood, he enjoys reading about the people and things that have shaped our social values.