Local broadcasting icon Red Robinson will say goodbye to the radio biz during a special four-hour show later this month.
Robinson will close his six-decade career in broadcasting on Sunday, Aug. 27 starting at noon, on the CISL 650 “oldies” station that has employed him in recent years.
The station will switch to an all-sports format in September, prompting Robinson’s departure from the radio business.
The so-long show will feature special guests Pat O’Day, a Seattle radio legend, and Bruce Allen, the brash talent manager. They’ll help Red celebrate with a mix of music, memories and fun.
Although Robinson is quitting the radio biz, he’ll continue to entertain at redrobinson.com and other online channels.
Robinson’s autobiography, The Last Deejay, was released by Harbour Publishing in 2016.
Earlier this year, in an interview with the Now-Leader, Robinson said he learned the meaning of courage from his son Jeff, who silently struggled with the pain of Crohn’s disease.
Jeff Robinson was 33 years old when the gastrointestinal disease claimed his life more than a decade ago.
In May, the West Fine Art Show paid tribute to Jeff with a memorial display at the annual event, held at Cloverdale Fairgrounds during the rodeo and country fair.
Red Robinson and his wife, Carole, have been backers of the foundation for many years, in honour of their departed son.
“Jeff had Crohn’s since he was 10,” Robinson said. “It’s a dozen years ago now since he died. You don’t want to lose a kid, I’ll tell you that. It never leaves me, it’s sad.”
In 1957, Robinson was a high-school teen who found his voice as one of the first DJs in Vancouver to play rock ‘n’ roll records.
His Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-worthy story was told in “Red Rock Diner,” a musical that has played in Surrey several times, most recently in the fall of 2015 in an Arts Club on Tour production.
Back in 1998, the original production of the musical starred a young crooner named Michael Bublé when the show toured to Surrey Arts Centre and other theatres in the region.
“I remember him well in that original production, and he was great,” Robinson said in the fall of 2015.
“I went with the show to Toronto and the guy who played the Elvis-like character (Val) was Michael.”
Later, when Bruce Allen sought Robinson’s opinion about whether he should manage Bublé’s music career, the broadcaster was firm and convincing.
“So I’m in Bruce’s office and (producers) Paul Anka and David Foster are on a conference call,” Robinson recalled. “So I tell them, ‘When Bublé played ‘Red Rock Diner,’ all the girls at the stage door were yelling for Michael – like, does that tell you something?’ And at the other end of the phone, Anka says, ‘God, that brings back memories,’” Robinson said with a laugh. “I can’t take credit for Bruce signing him, but he did believe me that I thought this kid was a star. Bruce said it wasn’t his kind of music, but I told him it would be. He signed Michael (to an artist-management contract) and the rest is history.”
The hit musical was written by Dean Regan, who roamed the hallways of King Edward high school with Robinson in the mid-1950s.
“I hadn’t seen him in years but he said he wanted to write a musical about me and those days,” Robinson said of his mid-1990s conversation with Regan. “So he wrote it, and we talked many times about those days, what happened, all the stories.
“But yes, it’s flattering as hell, and when I hear some of the corny lines I used, I turn red in places other than my hair,” he added with a laugh. “But that’s just how it was, and you gotta do it accurately.”