C-FUN 141: Springboard for Robinson & McCormick

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Among the many early rock radio winners was Vancouver’s C-FUN, the little 1 KW station which also propelled two of British Columbia’s biggest radio stars. First came Dave McCormick and then Red Robinson, two talented pop music radio pioneers who were big promoters and even bigger benefactors of C-FUN 141’s fame. Appropriately, their acclaimed careers were similar and intertwined starting in those early days of the 1950s.

Dave McCormick blazed the CFUN trail by spinning Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Fats Domino records in the late ‘50s (and later creating the 100,000-listener Hi Fi Club).

A few years before that, Robinson got his Vancouver on-air start at CJOR and CKWX. These two early radio pros were together — briefly — when McCormick was leaving his CFUN success for a radio opportunity in Central California. Red Robinson took the Program Director job McCormick was leaving behind. The two shared the microphone on McCormick’s last day at CFUN on March 31, 1962. This scoped recording is a real piece of history.  For McCormick and Robinson, it’s one — if not their only — shared on-air gig. To hear more Red Robinson, Al Jordan, Daryl B, John Tanner and others — plus C-FUN’s “Beat the Bomb !!” —  check out the C-FUN jock blitz at the end of this post.

Running time 7:35

McCormick did well at Fresno’s KMAK and then KYNO, the latter often called the birthplace of the Bill Drake programming format. In Seattle (1966) he applied some of those Drake techniques in leading a solid KOL pursuit of market leader KJR. From his California stint he brought several well-known voices to KOL, including Dex Allen, Rhett Hamilton Walker the First, Dick Burch and Bob Watson.

Then in ‘67 McCormick went  to California’s KMEN in San Bernardino, before returning to Vancouver in ‘72 where his successful career track led to CFMI, CJJR Country, CKBD and finally CISL. He left the airwaves in 2010 and passed away (at age 81) in 2017 after a long illness. (He was earlier inducted by Red Robinson into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame).

Red & Bobby Darin. KGW, Portland in ’59

Robinson also made a brief sojourn to broadcasting on U.S. soil, helping Portland’s KGW launch a rock n roll format in 1959.  His 1961 post-U.S. Army return to CKWX and his ‘62 debut at CFUN was the start of a near unparalleled career at CJOR, CKWX, C-FUN FM and CISL. Along the way he owned and operated three different ad agencies. Red’s reputation also earned him guest shots on the CBC network for frequent host roles on “Cross Canada Hit Parade.” He was elected to the Canadian Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1997. Red’s life is highlighted in the 2016  biography “The Last DeeJay” by Robin Brunet. The careers of both Robinson and McCormick spanned 60+ years.

A C-FUN  post script : The  little 1 KW ”station-that-could” did boost it’s signal to 10 KW and with  McCormick’s (and Robinson’s) leadership surpassed long rival CKWX in 1962.  But it lost the Top-40 battle when CKLG joined the race in 1964, pushing  CFUN into other  formats  and  new  calls (CKVN) in ‘69.  The C-FUN  call letters  were  restored  in 1973, giving the station a second life through 2007.

C-FUN deejay lineup1965: Clockwise from top left — Red Robinson, Al Jordan, Fred Latremouille, Tom Peacock, Ed Karl, John Tanner and Mad Mel

Here’s a cluster of C-FUN jock airchecks from the station’s heyday period of the ’60s.  Enjoy !

Running time  6:53

Together Again: Dave (left) & Red in 2013

 

 

 

 

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Ronald DeHart

Author: Ronald DeHart

Ron DeHart is a former newspaper and broadcast journalist and a retired Public Affairs Officer from both the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Navy/Naval Reserve. His historical accounts of Pacific Northwest broadcasting are published by Puget Sound Media.  

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