Donovan features Red Robinson early day airchecks this week





By Donovan Tildesley

PSR Contributor


Tuesday February the 2nd, 2016


We’re now into week 4 of this feature, and let me start off with a  request to the listening audience. So far, I’ve pulled material from my collection of scoped airchecks. While there’s more to come, a good number of my offerings are unscoped. Some radio historians and aircheck purists prefer it this way, but the bulk of aircheck aficionados couldn’t be bothered with the music. If anyone out there would be willing to scope down material for me, it would be much appreciated. While I can’t pay you, I will figure out some small form of remuneration. Please email me to discuss.
Now on with the show … RED ROBINSON!!

Red Robinson on CKWX, Sept. 14, 1957

This came to me courtesy aircheck collector extraordinaire Don Shuttleworth back in 2008. It’s a youthful-sounding Red, in his early Teen Canteen days at CKWX. Notice how Red weaves himself in and out of the music on this recording; a kind of free-flowing style which was a staple of early Top 40 radio. While not my personal favourite formatically speaking, it’s a good example of how the format sounded at this stage in the evolution of Top 40.

Red Robinson and CISL Composite, Fall 1993

Before I knew what it was called, making airchecks was an early hobby of mine starting from the age of six. Sadly many of the hours I recorded back then were lost to the tape demagnetizer. My mother, feeling that I went through an inordinate number of blank cassette tapes in a month, limited the number I could use, and strongly suggested that I record over those I didn’t need anymore. She did have a point! Admittedly, my habitual “taping radio” was no doubt an early sign of mild OCD behavior, traits of which are still very much a part of my personality today. Besides, I don’t think either of us realized that this repetitive pattern would ever mean anything in a historical context. This particular tape, mostly recorded off of my first-ever portable Sony Walkman, is mainly Red Robinson and the brand-new CISL Wake-Up Club from September/October of 1993 (Red had just started at the station on August 3). It also includes brief snippets of Al Farrabee (middays), and Rob Barridge and Gerry O’day (weekends). Usually I’d be eating breakfast, with one hand on my oatmeal spoon and the other on the pause button! Other voices heard are Joanna Milios, Brian Decker, a short imaging piece from Ray Collins, Brad Edwards, and Bernie Holsworth. Notice Red’s liberal use of character voices and drops on this recording. Brian Decker also really stands out for me. The man had a colourful way of painting pictures and dropping slang into his newscasts! I was in Grade 4 at the time, and each day our teacher asked members of the class to share current events at the start of the day. Anytime I put my hand up to share, I would unconsciously go into a Brian Decker delivery. He was gone from CISL by December of that year (I guess management was “steamed” at his unorthodox delivery), but made stops at Mountain FM Squamish, JRFM Vancouver, and finally News1130, where he was one of the original anchors when the All-News format launch twenty years ago this month. Perhaps some of our posters can enlighten us to his whereabouts today? His name is missing from Gord Lansdell’s terrific Vancouver Broadcasters index.

If you have any suggestions for future selections, please email me!

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  1. Wow. I haven’t heard this stuff for years. What a treasure and delight! Some of the best years in radio. I remember each one of those breaks, features and bits like it was just yesterday. Props to Donovan for preserving the history. Special memories and times. Honored to be a part of it all.

  2. Brad, thanks for your kind words. I still remember meeting you at the CISL booth at The Beach Boys concert, BC Day 1993, the day before Red debuted on CISL. What folks may not remember was that, for the first couple of years anyway, Producer Brad became the de-facto fill-in host for Red whenever he went on vacation. The first of which was an Alaskan cruise, where Red took a whole week off only 3 weeks into his run at CISL! (Taking a page from the Fred Latremouille playbook, perhaps?) Only kidding! Another memory of mine, which sadly was never recorded, was the time I visited Aja Jackson on location with CISL at the Boat Show. Eleven-year-old me does a Brad Edwards immitation, and Aja decided it was funny enough to warrant some airtime! Good times and great memories.

  3. Wow! how cool is that. Listening to Red Robinson when he was at CKWX in 1957. Very interesting to see how the music was a bit of mish-mash as far as format is concerned. Then moving on up to 1993, Red and the crew sound great! Thanks for Sharing Donovan… man, you sure have a handle on the history of radio in Vancouver. Keep up the great job!

  4. Donovan! When you get someone to scope the airchecks, you might want to put them on a varispeed or a pitch-shifting plugin to slow them down. Don’t know what exactly happened here, but at no time in his career did Red sound like Alvin the Chipmunk, nor did Elvis ever sound like his voice had just changed. The real giveaway is that the records are almost a full tone sharp and a bit short of their actual duration. These airchecks are GREAT, but let’s do them justice.

  5. Thank you for your comments, Doc! Inaccurate pitch and speed on these recordings have been the bain of my existence. I do have some of your Harris Reports from CISL circa 2003 in the pipeline, but had refrained from posting due to pitch inconsistencies. If you’re willing to help me with making these sound better, I’m willing to discuss some form of liquid compensation. 🙂


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