By Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun
RED NOVEMBER: Exactly 55 years ago this afternoon(November 12th) 16-year-old Red Robinson returned from the Okanagan to his part-time operator’s job in CJOR’s broadcasting studio. From his office in the Howe-off-Robson Grosvenor Hotel, program director Vic Waters said he’d fired the disc jockey for whom Robinson cued and spun records. “Why don’t you go on and do the job,” Waters said, “and we’ll tell you later if you’ve got it.”
Robinson reached for Jubilee Records’ disc of the Four Tunes singing a doo-wap version of Marie. One hour later, at 5 p.m., every light on ‘OR’s switchboard glowed as city teenagers requested more of the songs few had heard before.
Waters promptly hired Robinson for the after-school hour five days a week. By 1958, in his final teenage year, jazz-raised Robinson was logging 55 hours weekly, airing the rock’n’roll music he believed — and still does — “was an offshoot of Louis Jordan.”
Robinson then grew his career at CKWX and CFUN, where, as program director, he hired such stellar deejays as Fred Latrimouille, Terry David Mulligan and the late Darryl B (Burlingham), and again at CJOR. He also founded Arctic Records and, with partner Les Vogt, set up concert-promoting JAG Enterprises. He co-founded Trend Advertising Ltd., and, with Steve Vrlak, the Vrlak Robinson ad agency. His business enterprise today is simply Red Robinson Management Ltd.
He’ll sign off at that Pender-at-Carrall office at 5 today to be feted by industry pals at the Gotham steakhouse. There’ll doubtless be talk of CHUM Radio Vancouver eviscerating talk-station CFUN to become sports-oriented TEAM 1040. Astounded by that, and the demise of what he calls “the best call letters in Canada,” Robinson said: “There’s been firings at [CKNW-owning] CORUS Entertainment and elsewhere, but never everybody.”
Buddies may urge Robinson to celebrate his double-nickel anniversary by airing a new show. Betcha the first disc he’d spin would be Sammy Hagar’s 1984 hit I Can’t Drive 55.
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SETTING IT STRAIGHT: It was the Canadian Fishing Co. Jim Pattison acquired in 1984, not Ocean Fisheries, as I reported recently.