Long-time jazz host Bob Parzych passed away suddenly on July 19. He was 64.
A stalwart at WRTC, Parzych’s The Kitchen Sink of Jazz was one of the longest-running jazz shows in the state and a staple for countless listeners who knew where to turn the dial during drive time on Monday afternoons heading into evening.
An alum of Trinity, Parzych began broadcasting at WRTC in the mid-1970s. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government in 1976 and was awarded a master’s degree in education in 1982.
A native of New Britain, Parzych was a multi-sport athlete at New Britain High School. He attended Trinity on a football scholarship. The New Britain Herald profiled him.
Parzych was passionate about Trinity and broadcast Bantam football and ice hockey games for decades. He regularly had coaches and players on his program, which likely made The Kitchen Sink the only jazz program that incorporated sports-related interviews.
Trinity’s Athletic Department noted Parzych’s decades long commitment to supporting the Bantam’s sports programs.
“Trinity has been one of the few Div. III teams in the Northeast to continue airing its games on the radio in addition to its internet broadcasts, and the sole reason for that is Bob Parzych,” said Trinity Athletic Director Drew Galbraith. “There was nothing that he would not do to help get the word out about all the successes, on and off the playing fields and courts, of Trinity’s student-athletes. We have lost a trusted advocate for the Bantam sports program and a dear friend.”
In addition to his longtime role of jazz coordinator and more recently station general manager, Parzych played a key role in coordinating the station’s annual fundraising marathon.
“I know I’ve forgotten many other things that Bob did over the years at the station for there were far too many to keep track of,” said Trinity Faculty Advisor Gary Reger. “ Most of all, and I can say this for all of the years that I have known Bob, he was a friend with an incredible sense of humor who always went the extra distance for those he interacted with be it at Trinity, or with family and friends.”
He mentored scores of students over the years and according to former station manager Molly Santora, interactions with Parzych provided lessons that could be used for a lifetime as she recounted in a tribute she penned for The Trinity Tripod.
One thing listeners enjoyed about Parzych’s weekly three-hour aural adventures was the predictability of it in that they never knew what he would have up his sleeve, but they could count on diverse segments. He would always do a set of new music; a vocal set; the “5 P.M. Special” and of course, “Chet’s Corner” where Parzych would play a part of a vintage broadcast hosted by his mentor and long-time WRTC host, Chet McPhee who passed away in 2012.
Of his program, Parzych would bluntly say with humor, “It’s the only jazz program that will play anything!”
Proof of that was the Annual On Again/Off Again Bob Parzych Xmas Show which has been described as “a veritable cornucopia of Yuletide festiveness with no shortage of tomfoolery.” Many believed Parzych would plot the yearly on-air event for months. He gleefully subjected listeners to the 46th edition of the special show last year with the jocoseness thankfully not getting too out of control as the FCC did not have to step in.
WRTC was fortunate to have someone like Parzych on its staff for so many years, given his dedication to the on-going operation of the station, which included mentoring of new on-air hosts, support of student- and Trinity-related events and of course, his beloved jazz music.
While his shoes will never be filled, a number of WRTC hosts “sat in” on The Kitchen Sink of Jazz on July 23 to celebrate the memory of Parzych and his indelible mark at WRTC and the metro-Hartford airwaves. Phone lines were opened and numerous listeners shared memories of Parzych. Click here to listen to the archive while a playlist is here.