By Tom Harrison, The Province November 3, 2014
Vancouver radio legend Red Robinson, then 20, meets Elvis Presley before The King’s 1957 show at Empire Stadium.
Sixty years and still rockin’.
On November 12th, Red Robinson will have completed 60 years on the radio.
He remembers, “It all began on the day after Remembrance day in 1954 when program director Vic Waters told me the afternoon show “Theme for Teens” was mine each afternoon on CJOR, but I would have to do a “live” audition at 4 p.m.
“The previous host, Al Jordan, had left town for another job. I hit the air as a bundle of nerves but was able to play my favourite R & B tunes for a solid hour. The switchboard lit up and Vic told me that the show was mine. I can even remember the first song I played, a do-wop number by the Four Tunes titled “Marie” which had been a big band hit for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
“In those days I would buy my R & B records, wrapped in brown paper as if they were pornographic,” Robinson notes. “Of course, they were mostly songs by black performers and called ‘Race’ records. I played a mixed bag in those days, pop hits and R & B, which morphed into rock ’n’ roll.”
In those days, too, rock ’n’ roll was considered a flash in the pan, a fad that wouldn’t last. Vancouver needed a crusader and Robinson was it. He faced down criticism from without and from within. His belief became a career.