thanks to red for this photo

Red Robinson  - (The First Decade)




If you want to write the best biography of Red Robinson you would have a lot of competition. This rock/radio icon has co-authored books, pops up on many web sites, and appears in many ‘halls of fame’ and in newspaper or magazine articles. More than 50 years in radio-TV and now as an elder statesman makes it difficult to capture the essence of what makes “Red” tick.



Robert Gordon Robinson was born in Comox, BC on March 30, 1937. He received much of his education at King Edward High School at West 12th at Oak in Vancouver. He phoned into CJOR’s “Theme for Teens” show with imitations of Jimmy Stewart and Peter Lorre. He began hanging around ‘OR downstairs in the Grosvenor Hotel at the age of 15. That was 1953 and Al Jordan was a young broadcaster not much older than Robinson. Jordan allowed Red to write scripts for the show. He called the gangly teenager a “natural”.



Rock and Roll had not really arrived yet with teenagers dancing at sock hops to rhythm and blues. But that was going to change with the “new music” - black-based rhythms call rock-a-billy.



Vic Waters, CJOR Program Director at the time said Red Robinson was a radio groupie and got his start like a lot of other young broadcasters by hanging around the station on Howe Street. Al Jordan moved on in the summer of ’54 heading to the sunshine of Penticton to work for a new station CKOK owned by Maurice P. Finnerty.  Jordan’s replacement at ‘OR was Rod Hume who didn’t last long to the luck of Robinson. Red had just returned from a visit to his pal in the Peach city when Hume failed to show for a shift right after Armistice Day. Waters said: “Well Red, here is your chance. Show me.”



Red did well and was offered a job at $35/week. Regular announcers were getting about $65 a week so it was quite a deal for the station. CJOR owner George Chandler who was used to a bit of formality (suits and ties) referred to Robinson as that redheaded kid in the singlet - a T-shirt exposing the arm. Red’s success grew until everyone at the station and the competition was noticing him as well.  Soon Red spinning his new rock-a-billy music was on the air 6 hours a day and raking in the ratings – up to 52% of the market when he was on the “mike”. For 3 years – three times a day: 3:30 pm to 6:00 and 9:00 pm to 9:30 and 10:00pm to 1:00 am Robinson could be heard. When Chandler was asked to give Red Robinson a raise…he said

“Let him go”.



Red left for 50,000 watt CKWX when manager, Frank “Tiny” Elphicke, hired him for a fat raise. Elphicke took 'WX and made it into a 24 hour a day Top 50 station. Red then bought his first car, a ($3100) convertible, blazing red with a mobile radio to do broadcasts. It was a Ford Fairlane. In 1959 Robinson was lured by a $22,000 offer and went to Portland to get into KGW Radio/TV but because of the times and the law had to go into the US army at Fort Ord for six months. He was across the border for two years.



He returned in 1961 to CKWX but Elphicke had died and the jocks were sounding like 50 year olds even though they might have been 40. It didn’t work so he moved to C-FUN as program director. He stayed for six years with many of the original C-FUN good guys: Brian Forst, Al Jordan, Dave McCormick, Tom Peacock, Fred Latremouille, Ken Chang, Brian Lord and others. During the period ‘64 to ‘66 CFUN started to get stiff competition from CKLG. That was also when Red launched his family marrying Carole in 1963.


All that in a decade!



written by Jack Bennest



For a more in depth look at Red -




BC Radio History