Monday, August 6, 2012

Red Robinson

I was watching Global BC the other day and a legend was on. Red Robinson. I decided it was time that I ensured that my readers knew about this local treasure. So, with the help of Wikipedia, BC Radio History and Red Robinson's website, I gathered some information to share. Boy, did I find information!

Robert Gordon Robinson was born on March 30, 1937 in Comox, British Columbia. At some point, he moved to Vancouver and Robinson went to King Edward High School at West 12th and Oak Street. (As you may remember, I have written on the school and a reader had informed me that the school was destroyed in a fire.)

Robert used to call in to radio station CJOR "Theme for Teens" show and do imitations of Jimmy Stewart and Peter Lorre. At the age of 15, Robinson would hang around CJOR in the basement of the Grosvenor Hotel. A young broadcaster by the name of Al Jordan, who was not much older than Robinson, allowed the young man to write scripts for the show. It was 1953 and Jordan could see that the younger man was a natural.

Jordan left the station a year later, moving to Penticton to work for the new station CKOK. Jordan's replacement, Rod Hume, turned out to be a stroke of luck for the young Robinson. One day, not long after Armistice Day, Hume failed to show up for a shift and the station manager, Vic Waters, told the 16-year-old Robinson to show what he could do. That is just what Red did!

Robinson did well and was offered a job which paid $35 a week - thirty dollars less than that which the other, more established DJs, made. For three years, Red could be heard from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm; 9:00 pm to 9:30 pm and 10:00 pm to 1:00 am. His success grew as he played that new, rockabilly music and he not only garnered the attention of listeners but also from the competition. When the station manager, George Chandler, was approached about giving Robinson a raise, Chandler said, "let him go".

So, Red went to work for the 50,000 watt station, CKWX where manager Frank "Tiny" Elphicke paid the young man a lot more money. And Robinson did what every red blooded Canadian young man would do with an influx of monies. He bought himself his first car - a shiny, red convertible with a mobile radio to do broadcasts. This Ford Fairlane cost Robinson $3100. 

In 1959, Portland and KGW Radio/TV seduced Red with a $22,000 offer and he went south. Red spent two years across the border - six months of those were spent serving in the US Army at Fort Ord. That was the law at the time.

In 1961, Red Robinson came home and went back to CKWX. However, Elphicke had passed away and the station wasn't the same. So, he left there and became program director for C-FUN. He was there for six years and worked with such people as his old friend Al Jordan, Brian Forst, David McCormick, Tom Peacock, Fred Latremouille, Ken Chang, Brian Lord and others. From '64 to '66 were the years that CFUN started to get some real competition from CKLG. 

On a personal note, Red married his wife Carole in 1963.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love stories like this. My older brother once paid an ultimate compliment by telling someone that I was "a rocker chic from a way back" and my novel Mystique Rising is a paranormal adventure that deals with the injustice of music censorship. I love hearing how people like Red Robinson brought the music to our ears.

I have a lot more to tell you about Mr. Red Robinson. After all, this was only one decade! So tune in Wednesday for more!

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. ahhh the old days use to go to jack cullens studio over the old dance land bldg,with dave who was getting some great experience from the king

    1. Thanks for the memory Dave. I enjoy hearing from people who have stories to tell on one of my posts. It helps to bring the entries alive.