Gary Vercelli knew at an early age that jazz was his passion. "In high school, there was a 24-hour jazz station in Los Angeles, when commercial radio and jazz were not the oxymoron they are today, " says Vercelli, Jazz Music Director for Capital Public Radio. "I used to listen to that station and think, one day, I'd like to work there." Eventually, he did.
While attending college at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Vercelli launched his radio career. "After graduating, I worked at KCRW, an NPR affiliate in Santa Monica, " he recalls. "While I was there, I coordinated 70 hours of weekly jazz programming and produced a pilot for NPR's Jazz Alive! series." Vercelli then accepted a job at KBCA, the commercial jazz station of his high school days. During this time, he also served as the L.A. correspondent for Down Beat Magazine.
In 1980, Vercelli made his way to Sacramento as Jazz Music Director for Capital Public Radio. For the next 11 years, in addition to supervising the station's jazz programming, he produced and hosted Jazz International, a popular nightly jazz program. When Capital Public Radio added its second station with a jazz, news and information format in 1991, Vercelli easily assumed the role of music director. Before the News Station celebrated its fourth anniversary on the air, Vercelli had earned the distinction of "Jazz Broadcaster of the Year" by Gavin, a respected industry weekly. In 1993, the same publication acclaimed the station as "National Jazz Station of the Year."
In spite of the recognition, Vercelli gently cautions jazz aficionados about taking the music for granted. "Now more than ever, " he says, "it's important for listeners to support the station."
When he's not on air or previewing music for the station, Vercelli enjoys visiting the Bay Area, cooking and yoga, which he has studied for more than 20 years. "I also have an interest in wines, which is diametrically opposed to my Yoga interest, " he laments with a grin. "I guess I'm a classic example of east meets west."