It’s All Red Up North Canada Way

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Red Robinson was a kid when he worked at CJOR, Vancouver

North of the border, up Canada way, there is a disc jockey who was a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll radio in North America. Red Robinson has been a familiar radio name for more than 60 years. Actually, he is a radio legend, one of the guys who molded and defined, maybe we should say he helped invent, music radio.  In 1954, Red was only 16 years-old and in high school when he began spinning records on CJOR-AM in Vancouver, B.C.  By the way, most of this story took place back when AM radio was still king.

Late 1950s promotion.  Red is left side, 4th man down

Red Robinson was one of the first disc jockeys in all of Canada to play Buddy Holly records.

Buddy Holly and Red: Before the music died!

Red was, also, one of the first deejays in Canada to spin Elvis’ records. In fact, back in August 1957 when The King was touring, Robinson emceed the Vancouver show and met Presley.

Pretty obvious what’s going on here: The King with Red

Seven years later, when the Fab Four played Vancouver’s Empire Stadium in August 1964, Red Robinson emceed one of the most exciting events in rock ‘n’ roll history. (My wife was at that concert. She saw the Beatles twice. Both times she won tickets from KPUG in Bellingham).

He saw them standing there — 1964

Red has worked at several Vancouver B.C. radio stations, in some cases more than once: CJOR-AM, CKWX-AM, CFUN-AM, CBC-AM, and CISL-AM.  In the United States, Robinson was employed by KGW-AM and KGW-TV in Portland.  Historical note: In Red’s early years, first at CKWX and later in Portland at KGW, his radio show was called “Teen Canteen.” He played the hits and young people became members, or you might say fans, of the “Teen Canteen” radio show. Listeners who joined received official looking membership cards.

Teen Canteen membership card

Here’s one of Red’s early airchecks from sixty years ago. He sounds like a kid, and he was! This is the “Teen Canteen” as heard on 50,000 watt CKWX-Vancouver.

Edited & scoped aircheck: Total run time 3:23  (Red Robinson, 20 years of age, from Sept. 1957)

It doesn’t matter which side of the border you live on, Red Robinson is an iconic radio professional. If you’ve never visited Red’s website, you should!  It’s chock full of nostalgia and memories — celebrity interviews, photos, interesting articles, personal reminisces and Red’s insightful perspective into radio, music and current events. Visit Red’s website at this address:  https://redrobinson.com/   

Special thanks for photos, audio and biographical information to Red Robinson at redrobinson.com

Related Stories

Click on the names below to read about these former KPUG-Bellingham deejays who were on-air in Bellingham when Red was a big hit up in Vancouver, BC.

Mike Forney
Danny Holiday
Jay Hamilton
Kirk Wilde
Gary Shannon
Bob O’Neil & Marc Taylor

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Author: Steven Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with Puget Sound Media in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.

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