Country Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2005KHOZs Bob Mitchell was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. Bob has been on the airwaves since 1966, joining KHOZ, 102.9 FM, in 1993 as Promotions Director. Today, Bob broadcasts his live radio show from the KHOZ studio at Branson Mall each weekday from 11a.m. to 3p.m.
Bob Mitchell says his is the story of "a little Mennonite boy who wanted to be a DJ." So much so that he greatly disappointed his father, a deacon in the Mennonite church, who wanted Bob to join him in the family painting business.
"I was the oldest son and was in line to inherit the business," Mitchell says. "It really broke his heart when I told him I was going into radio. I probably would have made a lot more money in the painting business than I ever made being a DJ, but radio was all I wanted to do."
The radio bug bit Mitchell - born Walter Detweiler in Soudertown, Pennsylvania - at a very young age. "I listened to WIBG/Philadelphia growing up - what a great radio station. They had Joe Niagara, Huble Harv and Bobby Mitchell - whose name I stole."
It was a long road from Soudertown to Mitchell's first radio gig. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War era, he was assigned to spend two years as an attendant in the closed ward of a mental hospital in Denver. Near the end of his time there he did some research and found his first radio job, at KSAL/Salina, Kansas in 1960. He was 24 and had just gotten married. He says it was also the only job from which he was fired.
Mitchell was there about a year before the ax fell, then moved on to his first Country station, KVWO/Cheyenne, Wyoming. From there it was on the Albuquerque and a Country station whose calls he can't remember, then to KINT/El Paso, and then to a Phoenix-area station, KRDS/Tolleson, Arizona.
Mitchell worked there until he received an offer he couldn't refuse. Harry Trainner, who had been a GM at RKO's KHJ/Los Angeles and KFRC/San Francisco, had bought a station in San Bernandino, California that he was going to turn Country, and he wanted Mitchell to come aboard.
Mitchell said yes and stayed there for 27 years. KCKC quickly became one of the market's top stations and in the process, grew to legendary status.
Mitchell worked at KCKC from 1966-1993. During his tenure he developed personal relationships with country stars and label executives alike, having many over to his house for dinner - among them Charley Pride, Johnny Rodriquez and Joe Galarite.
Mitchell says he also enjoyed a close relationship with legendary producer Billy Sherrill. "We used to talk all the time, and we still do," he says. "Here's a story from a few years ago. When I found out that George Jones was coming out with a new gospel album that Bill was going to produce, I called Billy and asked why he wasn't going to include the George Jones classic 'Family Bible'. We went back in the studio and recorded it, and it's now on the album."
Mitchell recalls another time he made a call on a record, "Just after Barbra Steisand and Neil Diamond released "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," I called someone at RCA - I think it was Chet Atkins - and suggested that it would be a great song for Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius. They recorded it based on my suggestion, and it became a hit for them. They even included that story on the back of their album."