Robert "Bob" Parlocha (born in 1938) is an American jazz expert who is best known as a radio host and programmer. He is also a professional saxophone player. He is currently in wide syndication with his nighttime jazz show "Jazz With Bob Parlocha."
Local journey to success
Bob Parlocha was born in Vallejo, California in 1938, to a Filipino father and a half-black, half-Filipino mother. His mother was a fan of big band music (especially Count Basie and Duke Ellington), and introduced him to jazz at an early age. He grew up listening to former KJAZ owner Pat Henry (broadcasting at that time on KROW in San Francisco); and to Jerry Dean, who hosted a weekly KJAZ show from Vallejo. Contributing his voice as an announcer for road bands while still in his teens, Bob played tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as flute for his high school band. He graduated from Vallejo High School in 1956.
Jazz remained a hobby for the next decade, while he worked as a psychiatric nurse at UCSF. He later attributed many of the interpersonal skills he has needed in the music business to this experience. KJAZ owner Pat Henry's on-air invitation to prospective DJs led Parlocha to submit a tape, prompting Henry to hire him as a programmer for the station's Saturday evenings. This resulted in Parlocha's appointment as host of the "Dinner Jazz Show," in 1978.
As the show's ratings climbed, Parlocha's distinctive voice became familiar to jazz audiences throughout the Bay Area. A thoughtful programmer, articulate spokesman for jazz, and analyst of the music scene, his "master of ceremonies" style enhanced many jazz concerts and fundraisers over the subsequent years. His credits include the Gil Evans Orchestra's concert at the "Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival", the "Berkeley Jazz Festival", "Oakland Arts Explosion", "Jazz at the Palace", "Bay Area Jazz Awards", the "San Francisco International KJAZ Festival", and as KJAZ host on the SS Norway Jazz Cruises.
Music director and producer
He eventually became music director at KJAZ, auditioning new releases and determining which albums and cuts would air on the prominent jazz station. KJAZ was one of only a handful of jazz stations nationally reporting airplay to the prestigious "Radio and Records" publication, which influences programming at hundreds of smaller stations and, ultimately, record sales.
He also developed numerous specialty shows, including the "Black Masters" series, "Latin Jazz," "On The Scene" (spotlighting Bay Area musicians in live performance), and "What's New," reviewing album releases with a Bay Area panel of experts. Parlocha engineered the late Martha Young's "Live at Bajone's" album on the Carnelian label, and "Sufi Dancers" for pianist Steve Cohn, both in 1982. He has also produced a number of albums; his first was in 1985 for singer Laurie Antonioli's "Soul Eyes" on Catero Records.
A decline in jazz radio audiences led KJAZ owner Ron Cowan to sell the ailing station in 1994. A leading fine arts station in Chicago, WFMT (through "JSN", its satellite radio affiliate), agreed to syndicate the show Jazz with Bob Parlocha, which he records in Alameda, California. The evening show was picked up by KUVO (Denver), WRCJ-FM (Detroit) and several other public radio stations, including Kansas and Alabama. WGBH-FM, out of Boston, Massachusetts, has carried the show for decades, albeit with some glitches in their transition to "mostly talk" radio in 2009. The leading jazz station in the western United States, KKJZ (Long Beach), began airing his program in early 2007. The show is also carried by JAZZ.FM91 in Toronto, Ontario, as well as the de facto successor to KJAZ, KCSM (FM) of the College of San Mateo in the Bay Area.
He has participated in the Jazz Journalist Association Awards and donates his time to jazz causes, especially those in support of Bay Area musicians. He still performs as a saxophonist, appearing with the Bob Enos Big Band at the 2008 San Jose Jazz Festival.
Parlocha also enjoys gourmet cooking as a hobby. His "Cooking With Bob" column appeared in the bimonthly KJAZ newsletters, and he has performed numerous live remotes from Bay Area restaurants on "Dinner Jazz."