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Red Robinson's Legends
17 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Legends of Radio - Robert W. Morgan
During one of my frequent 1961 visits with Gary Bruno at KMBY/Monterey, he introduced me to Mark Carroll, who had been stationed at Fort Ord but was now the morning DJ at the station. Gary thought that Mark was one of the finest voices he had ever heard. Just before I left Fort Ord, Gary made arrangements for the three of us to get together for dinner at a restaurant on Cannery Row opposite KMBY. Mark was a natural talent, forthright in his approach and had a most personable way about him. I liked him immediately. During our dinner conversation I asked him why he was using the name Mark Carroll. At the time there was a proliferation of "Marks" on the airwaves in America. It seemed like every little dot on the map had a "Mark": Mark Richards, Mark Jones, Mark Elliott, ad nauseam. He said he used the name "Mark" because he wasn't happy with his given name, "Robert Morgan". I insisted that this was a good, easy to remember name — so why not go with it? He said he would consider resorting to his own name. @OfficialRobertWMorgan moved to Fresno the next year, where worked with legendary programmer Ron Jacobs and old buddy "Big Daddy" Dave McCormick at Top 40 pioneer K-MAK. Morgan went on to KHJ/Los Angeles in the mid Sixties and Angelenos soon caught on to the expression "Good Morgan", the calling card for Robert W's morning show. "Boss Radio" was first introduced to the citizens of Los Angeles on May 5, 1965 and within six months KHJ ruled Top 40 radio in Southern California. Morgan, with his quick wit and clear intelligence, quickly rose to the heights of success on KHJ. His radio voice was rich and clear, you might say almost perfect. In 1973 Robert W. Morgan was named Top 40 air personality of the year by Billboard Magazine. Morgan was one of the original KHJ Boss Jocks and he also co-produced and narrated the first-ever “rockumentary”, the 48-hour History of Rock and Roll. Robert W. Morgan retained his incredible following upon the demise of KHJ. He worked many markets in the following years before ending up at Oldies KRTH in L.A. He was the number one morning man in Los Angeles until 1997, when he retired for health reasons. Morgan died on May 22, 1998. He was only 60. A fantastically talented and hard working radio guy. One of the very best ever as a deejay. Ladies and gentlemen… here’s Robert W. Morgan on K-EARTH in 1993. Listen and enjoy!
5 minutes | Jun 6, 2021
Lesley Gore interview, 1989
Lesley Gore topped the C-FUNtastic Fifty for the third straight week on this day in 1963 with “It’s My Party,” produced by the legendary Quincy Jones! The song sold more than 1 million copies. Lesley followed up with "Judy's Turn to Cry", “That’s the Way Boys Are,” “She’s a Fool,” “Maybe I Know,” “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” and another million seller, “You Don’t Own Me.” Lesley was part of the lineup for the Legends Of Rock’n’Roll at Expo ’86. She was a guest on Timmy’s Christmas Telethon in 1989 and that's where we recorded this interview. In the early 2000’s Lesley played the Silver Reef Casino south of the border. She called me from her home in New York and asked if I would introduce her at the Silver Reef. I agreed and said it would be an honour. Her credentials speak volumes. Lesley Gore died of cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan in February, 2015. She was 68. One of the great ladies of rock and roll.
1 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Del Shannon's "Runaway" is #1
On this day in 1961, Del Shannon's first hit "Runaway" hit # 1 on Vancouver's C-FUNtastic 50. The song held the top spot for five weeks. In this interview, Del talks about the unique sound keyboard player Max Crook brought to "Runaway". Del had other hits with "Hats Off to Larry", "Little Town Flirt", "Handy Man", "Do You Wanna Dance?" and "Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)". Del's 1963 version of the Beatles "From Me To You" was the first Lennon–McCartney composition to make the American charts. C-FUN played both records, with "From Me To You" peaking at #14 that August. Del Shannon died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 8, 1990 at his home in California. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 by Everclear frontman Art Alexakis. Billy Joel and Bonnie Raitt performed "Runaway" at the induction ceremony. Sadly, "Runaway" co-writer Max Crook recently passed about a year ago. Max and Del kept a long-standing friendship over the years and collaborated as co-writers again on a few songs. Check out delshannon.com for details on the making of "Runaway" and a great profile of Max Crook. A comprehensive Del Shannon box set in the works from the UK's Edsel Records will comprise all of Del's output from 1961-1990, including unreleased titles, lost tracks, and demo recordings. Music historian Harvey Kubernik, along with Del Shannon archivist Brian Young, Del's estate manager Dan Bourgoise, and film producers Todd Thompson and Mark Bentley, are working on a Del Shannon documentary for Stars North. Old friend Andrew Loog Oldham will narrate the film. More at starsnorth.com/portfolio-item/del-shannon-the-runaway/
6 minutes | Mar 19, 2021
CKWX Farewell Platter Party, March 1962
In early 1962, I had returned to CKWX and I was trying to regain my following. It was a hopeless cause. The action was now with C-FUN and I knew it. I approached Program Manager John Ansell with the question, "Are you going to be carrying baseball live this Spring?" Ansell said he had been thinking about it but nothing definite had been decided. I went to the sales department of the station and they said that they had signed contracts and baseball would definitely be carried on CKWX. Baseball was going to cut into my nightly program and I felt that CKWX had no hope of competing with C-FUN for the Top 40 audience with this mixed bag of programming. Station management didn't see it quite this way. A simple memo was posted on the wall at CKWX: "It is with regret that we announce the resignation of Red Robinson. He will be leaving us on March 31. His exact plans for the future are not yet definite but I am sure you all join with me in wishing him the very best of luck in whatever he pursues. Sincerely, Bill Speers, Station Manager." CKWX did not realize that I had made arrangements with Dave McCormick and new C-FUN Station Manager Doug Greig to move to their operation. I started at C-FUN on April 1, 1962 and remained until the end of 1967. It was an era like no other and I was glad to be a part of it. It was a new decade, a new station, a new era for the growth of rock'n'roll and the delicious call letters, the best in Canada, made it even more fascinating. Here's my final CKWX Platter Party, broadcast March 16, 1962.
11 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Legends Of Pop: Bonnie Guitar
When Gene Vincent performed in Vancouver in 1958, the opening act was Bonnie Guitar. Bonnie started her career in Seattle. She recorded "Dark Moon" on Dot Records in March of 1957, an instant hit even though initially she had strong competition from singer-actress Gale Storm. Her next smash was "Mister Fire Eyes" and her stage presentation was smooth as glass. When I look back it was a good balance at the time. There was much interest in Bonnie Guitar in those days because she was one of the very few female singers to make a hit record. I was to enjoy many visits with Bonnie over the years as she later became involved with Bob Reisdorff and Dolton Records, based in Seattle. The label fostered groups like the Ventures and the Fleetwoods, songs by Bonnie herself, Vic Dana, and others. Bob had a good ear for music. He had put together a group called "The Fleetwoods", who had been students at Olympia High School. Gary Troxel, Barbara Ellis and Gretchen Christopher made up the group. They wrote a song called "Come Softly To Me" and it was a smash number one song in the Spring of 1959. Their gentle sound preceded The Carpenters by a dozen years. Their last Top Ten hit was a revival of the Thomas Wayne classic "Tragedy" in 1961. In a 2006 interview with No Depression magazine, Bonnie said "Because they had so much air in their voices, I had to do a lot of different fooling with microphones to get enough sound on the tape to saturate the tape.” You'll hear a Fleetwoods promo for my CKWX show right after the interview. Bonnie left Dolton in 1960 and became part owner of Jerden Records with my old friend, the late Jerry Dennon. Dolton was merged with Liberty Records in 1966. Liberty had distributed Dolton releases since "Come Softly to Me" became a hit, but discontinued the Dolton label in 1967, transferring its artists to the parent label. The label's final single was "Theme From The Wild Angels"/"Kickstand" by the Ventures; their "Guitar Freakout" was also the final album released on Dolton. Bonnie Guitar retired from performing in 1996. She died in 2019 at the age of 95. She'll always be remembered as a multi-talented businesswoman who made an impact in the male-dominated music industry.
6 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Dean Torrence Part 1
Dean Torrence and partner Jan Berry were a couple of California boys who produced many hits together. Dean credits Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys for arranging and writing many of their songs. They pioneered the surfing sound with the 1963 Wilson-penned hit Surf City. It went to the top of the charts that year, and paved the way for all that followed. They continued their association with Wilson until 1966 to great success. You can hear Jan and Dean singing on the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann, an improvised live version that wasn't supposed to be released. Jan was partially paralyzed in a car accident in Beverly Hills in 1966. He was in a coma for two months. I greatly admired both: Dean for standing by his friend on stage and Jan for the courage to continue touring. Dean was a talented graphic artist who created album covers for the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Nilsson and many others. I booked them for The Legends Of Rock'n'Roll at Expo 86 (where we recorded this interview) and I worked with them at again at Music ‘91. They were great friends and they even allowed me to sing some of their hits with them on stage in Osoyoos that year. They also appeared at the PNE later that summer. I talked many times with Dean after the passing of his buddy Jan in 2004. You'll want to check out Dean's book Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story at amazon.com. In this segment, Dean sets the scene: the beach at Malibu, the impact of surf music and the early days.
5 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Dean Torrence Part 2
Dean Torrence and partner Jan Berry were a couple of California boys who produced many hits together. Dean credits Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys for arranging and writing many of their songs. They pioneered the surfing sound with the 1963 Wilson-penned hit Surf City. It went to the top of the charts that year, and paved the way for all that followed. They continued their association with Wilson until 1966 to great success. You can hear Jan and Dean singing on the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann, an improvised live version that wasn't supposed to be released. Jan was partially paralyzed in a car accident in Beverly Hills in 1966. He was in a coma for two months. I greatly admired both: Dean for standing by his friend on stage and Jan for the courage to continue touring. Dean was a talented graphic artist who created album covers for the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Nilsson and many others. I booked them for The Legends Of Rock'n'Roll at Expo 86 (where we recorded this interview) and I worked with them at again at Music ‘91. They were great friends and they even allowed me to sing some of their hits with them on stage in Osoyoos that year. They also appeared at the PNE later that summer. The best time I had with Jan & Dean was on CBC-TV's Timmy's Telethon, which I hosted for 23 years. I talked many times with Dean after the passing of his buddy Jan in 2004. You'll want to check out Dean's book Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story at amazon.com. In this segment, Dean covers working with Brian Wilson, his interest in graphics, Jan's accident and the movie "Dead Man's Curve".
5 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Dean Torrence Part 3
Dean Torrence and partner Jan Berry were a couple of California boys who produced many hits together. Dean credits Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys for arranging and writing many of their songs. They pioneered the surfing sound with the 1963 Wilson-penned hit Surf City. It went to the top of the charts that year, and paved the way for all that followed. They continued their association with Wilson until 1966 to great success. You can hear Jan and Dean singing on the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann, an improvised live version that wasn't supposed to be released. Jan was partially paralyzed in a car accident in Beverly Hills in 1966. He was in a coma for two months. I greatly admired both: Dean for standing by his friend on stage and Jan for the courage to continue touring. Dean was a talented graphic artist who created album covers for the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Nilsson and many others. I booked them for The Legends Of Rock'n'Roll at Expo 86 (where we recorded this interview) and I worked with them at again at Music ‘91. They were great friends and they even allowed me to sing some of their hits with them on stage in Osoyoos that year. They also appeared at the PNE later that summer. The best time I had with Jan & Dean was on CBC-TV's Timmy's Telethon, which I hosted for 23 years. I talked many times with Dean after the passing of his buddy Jan in 2004. You'll want to check out Dean's book Surf City: The Jan and Dean Story at amazon.com. In this segment, Dean talks about the future, enjoying being a performer and the business of music.
32 minutes | Feb 24, 2021
Legends Of Radio - Rick Honey
Twenty years ago today (2/24) we lost a great friend and a cherished radio companion when Rick Honey lost his courageous battle with cancer. Rick left CKNW in 1997, but afternoon host Jon McComb asked a group of Rick's friends to join him in this tribute shortly after his passing. I was honoured to be there along with Wayne Cox, Neil Soper and Mel Zajac. Another Vancouver broadcast legend, Fred Latremouille, joined us by telephone from Hawaii. My thanks to Larry Gifford, CKNW and Corus Entertainment for permission to replay the show. How do you sum up Rick's life and the impact he had on all of us? His old friend Wayne Cox said it best: "I first met Rick when he joined NW to host the 3 to 6 'Road Show' when Brian Forst moved to the morning show. I was hosting the noon to 3 shift, so we crossed over every day, and developed a strong off air relationship as the years went along. Rick would arrive for his shift more often than not, dressed in a jacket and tie. I had to remind him that he didn't have to do that, it was radio! But the truth was, he was usually coming to work after attending meetings or luncheons downtown, and was dressed more for that than his work on the radio. He had a wonderful list of contacts in the city. Rick knew all the powerful and influential people in town, and they all knew him. Nobody could throw a house party quite like Rick. He had a marvelous way of attracting friends from all walks of life. When you went to a Rick Honey party you never knew who you would meet. There were the obvious radio and TV friends, but you could also be partying with a fisherman from Richmond, a car dealer from Surrey... you just never knew, and it was always a fun night with lots of music and lots of laughs. I was witness to the early days of Rick's passion for magic. Every day before his shift, and while mine was ending, he'd try out the vanishing coin trick on me, then it was the vanishing foam balls, the silks, it went on and on and he got very good. He started using his magic act as part of his MC work at dinners and conventions. Add to that his gift of comedy, and Rick became the Master of all the masters of ceremonies in this city. Rick was one of the only 'NW staffers who reached out to me after I left. Always checking in to see how things were going, making sure everything was alright. Something I've never forgotten about him. He was a terrific talent, and a wonderful friend. And he left us way too early."
13 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Legends of Radio - Daryl B
Here’s a rare recording of the legendary Daryl B on CHUM/Toronto with good friend and fellow Winnipegger Burton Cummings in 1990, followed by a composite of Daryl's show. You'll love the ending, where Daryl honours a listener request for "Rainy Night In Georgia"! I brought Daryl to work at C-FUN in late 1965 from CKY/Winnipeg when Fred Latremouille left to move to CKLG. Daryl and his family lived at our house for a while until they could find accommodation. We had many good times at C-FUN. And the listeners loved his brand of radio! Myles Murchison remembers: "In 1965 C-FUN had a massive playlist consisting of fifty songs, an R&B Top Ten, a Country Top Ten and Twin Pick Hits. You wouldn't believe the amount of homework I had to ignore every day just to soak all this up! To hear Daryl segue from 'I Can Never Go Home Anymore' by The Shangri-Las into The Beatles 'Day Tripper' with an economy of words that was truly astounding in its brevity was pure magic. Then, as the fading record slammed into a five second-long shotgun stinger followed by 'She's Just My Style' by Gary Lewis and the Playboys - making its debut on the CFUNTASTIC FIFTY chart that week ... well, time and temperature never sounded so good." In 1967, he moved to CKLG, staying until he got the opportunity to join “The Big 8” CKLW/Windsor in 1969. Daryl returned to CKLG in 1970. Just before arriving, he put in a word for his good friend Rick Honey to 'LG management. It was on Daryl’s recommendation that Rick, then working in radio in Sydney, Nova Scotia, was flown into Vancouver for an audition. Honey became a very popular personality at CKLG. Daryl moved back to C-FUN shortly after CHUM bought the station in 1973. In 1974, a throwaway line Daryl tossed out on his show became the inspiration for a massive hit record for Randy Bachman's band Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Apparently Randy was listening to the radio one day when he heard B say, "It's Daryl B, and we're takin' care of business on C-FUN!" Miraculously a song that Randy had been plugging away at for awhile called 'White Collar Worker' had a new title, all thanks to Daryl. Daryl headed to CHUM in 1977. He was back at C-FUN from 1979-84, and then CHUM again from 1984-92 until post polio syndrome forced his retirement. Daryl B died in Winnipeg February 27, 2001 after suffering a stroke. He was only 58. He was a fantastic talent and I never really felt he knew how good he was. Daryl's boss at CFUN, Chuck McCoy, summed it up beautifully: "Listening to Daryl B as a teen, working with him as a DJ at CKY/Winnipeg then acting as his PD at CFUN/Vancouver are radio memories that stand out among all the others over my 52 years in broadcasting. He was an amazing talent but more than that, a good friend over all those years. I spoke to Daryl just days before his passing back 20 years ago on the special toll free phone that NABS had initiated so we could all call and talk with him in his last year. His influence on me and so many other broadcasters will always be treasured. To this day I follow Daryl's advice: 'Stay out of trees!'"
4 minutes | Feb 22, 2021
Rick Honey Hangs Up His Headphones
Longtime CKNW afternoon host Rick Honey called it a day after 24 years on May 30, 1997. Rick came to Vancouver in late 1969 from Nova Scotia to work at Top 40 CKLG and quickly developed a following. Rick was also a top-notch MC and an accomplished magician! I loved Rick's sense of humour, and it was evident when I called him from my CISL morning show to check up on him. Rick was named Broadcast Performer of the Year by the BC Association of Broadcasters in 2000. He died in Vancouver February 24, 2001. Rick Honey was only 53. A tremendous loss for his loyal listeners and his many friends in the radio business. RIP Rick!
1 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
Happy Birthday Smokey Robinson, 81 today (2/19)! I worked with Smokey many times over the years. The Miracles' "Shop Around" was Motown's first million seller in 1960. Over the next 10 years Smokey gave us some truly memorable music: "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" (1962), "Mickey's Monkey" (1963), "Ooo Baby Baby", "Going to a Go-Go", "The Tracks of My Tears" (1965), "(Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need" (1966), "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage", "I Second That Emotion" and "More Love" (1967) and "The Tears of a Clown" (1970). Smokey topped the charts as a solo artist with "Cruisin'" (1979) and "Being With You" (1981). "Just to See Her" and "One Heartbeat" were Top 10 hits for Smokey in 1987. Smokey was also a major writer and producer for Motown. He has written 4,000 songs in his distinguished career. In this interview, recorded at the Legends Of Rock'n'Roll show at EXPO 86 in Vancouver, Smokey recalls meeting Ray Charles, his early days at Motown, working with Mary Wells, the success of "Shop Around", his perspective on Motown founder Berry Gordy, how having kids changed his work ethic. Smokey Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and was awarded the 2016 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his lifetime contributions to popular music. He recently joined forces with singers Leona Lewis, Tori Kelly and Sam Fischer for a new rendition of Burt Bacharach’s classic “What the World Needs Now,” to benefit the American Red Cross in its disaster relief efforts. Smokey's life story, "Grateful And Blessed" is available now on audible.com. Catch up with Smokey at smokeyrobinson.com. He's on Facebook at @thesmokeyrobinson and Twitter at @smokeyrobinson. Happy Birthday old friend!
7 minutes | Feb 9, 2021
Little Anthony interview, 1986
Little Anthony and the Imperials were named for lead singer Jerome Anthony "Little Anthony" Gourdine, who was noted for his high-pitched voice. The group signed with End Records in 1958 and their first single, "Tears on My Pillow", was an instant hit. The group followed up with "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop" in 1960. One of the highlights of my brief Portland Bandstand TV hosting appearances in 1960 was offering dance sheets to KGW-TV viewers so they could learn the new dance craze based on the song. With the help of record producer/songwriter Teddy Randazzo (a childhood friend of the group), the Imperials found success on the new DCP (Don Costa Productions) label with the dramatic pop-soul records "I'm on the Outside (Looking In)" (1964), "Goin' Out of My Head" (1964), "Hurt So Bad" (1965), "I Miss You So" (1965), "Take Me Back" (1965), and "Hurt" (1966). They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009 by longtime friend Smokey Robinson. In this interview, recorded at the Legends Of Rock'n'Roll show at EXPO 86 in Vancouver, Anthony tells me how pioneering DJ Alan Freed came up with the "Little" part of his name; how Freed helped popularize black music; how rockabilly and R&B combined to form rock'n'roll; Don Costa's influence on his music; and why he loves entertaining. Anthony just turned 80 and he lives in Florida with his wife, Linda. Visit him at littleanthonyandtheimperials.org.
1 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
Roy Orbison Meets Buddy Holly
Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly were both born in West Texas: Buddy in Lubbock, and Roy in Vernon, 180 miles east. They never toured together *except as holograms in 2019's "Rock'n'Roll Dream Tour"), but Buddy recorded two Orbison songs on his debut album with the Crickets. Here, Roy tells me about meeting Buddy and hearing his first record on the radio.
14 minutes | Jan 18, 2021
Legends Of Radio - Brian Beirne
30 years ago today, on January 18, 1991, Brian Beirne was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Brian was a DJ for K-EARTH 101 in Los Angeles. "Mr. Rock'n'Roll" is considered one of the foremost historians on rock music. His 40 year radio career included stints in San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, and Sacramento. Brian retired from KRTH in 2004 but he continues to host and produce rock and roll shows around the country. Visit Brian at legendaryshows.com.
6 minutes | Nov 30, 2020
Chubby Checker's “The Twist” was a #1 song not once but twice — in 1960 and again in 1961. The song that started a worldwide dance phenomenon was a cover of an old Hank Ballard B-side. Chubby had more big hits with “Let’s Twist Again” in 1961, “Slow Twistin’” (with Dee Dee Sharp) in 1962, and “Twist It Up” in 1963. Checker followed his success with with popular songs about other dances, including “The Hucklebuck,” “Pony Time,” “(Dance the) Mess Around,” “The Fly,” “Limbo Rock” and “Let’s Limbo Some More.” You'll find them all on Dancin’ Party: The Chubby Checker Collection (1960–1966) a reissue from Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway. "The Twist" spawned a host of hits including "Twistin' the Night Away" with Sam Cooke, "Peppermint Twist" featuring Joey Dee and the Starliters, "Dear Lady Twist" with Gary US Bonds and "Twist and Shout" with the Isley Brothers. In our interview, Chubby talks about his influences, the impact of The Twist, visiting Vancouver in the Sixties, his lasting success and his real name. Recorded at The Legends of Rock at EXPO 86 in Vancouver
11 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
Legends Of Radio - Pat O'Day
When Pat O'Day died August 4, I lost a great friend and the Pacific Northwest said goodbye to a genuine legend. Son Jeff O'Day wrote a fitting tribute to his father in a Facebook post: “The Pacific Northwest will always seem a little empty without the legendary Pat O’Day. All we can do is focus on the incredible role he had in making the Emerald City a better place to live, and the difference he made in people’s lives.“ The son of a coal miner turned preacher, Pat was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, on September 24, 1934. When he was 7, his father accepted a job with a Tacoma church and soon landed a radio ministry show on Tacoma’s KMO. “He didn’t pound the pulpit, but he could move people emotionally,” O’Day remembered in a 2018 Seattle Times story. “I knew then that I wanted to be on the radio. Every night I’d go into the bathroom and practice announcing into the bathtub because it made my voice resonate.” While attending radio and TV school in Tacoma, Pat landed his first radio job as a studio engineer at KTAC. After spending three years at small-market stations, he made his Seattle debut on KAYO in 1959. A year later, O'Day moved to KJR, his favorite station growing up in Tacoma. Pat combined rock'n'roll music with the personality, drama and theatrics of pre-TV radio. He was promoted to program director of KJR and felt that all of his childhood dreams had come true. Pat O’Day owned the Seattle afternoon airwaves, averaging 35% of the radio audience. KJR moved into #1 in the ratings and stayed there for almost 15 years. Pat says, "Other stations would attempt to compete now and then, but we had the talent, we had the momentum and we had a tradition. We believed radio had to make people laugh, or cry. It needed to be perpetual motion." Pat was named the nation’s top program director in 1964 and 1965, and “Radioman of the Year” in 1966. Pat began calling hydroplane races on KJR in 1967. That was the beginning of a 46 year stretch broadcasting the hydros on Seattle radio and TV. As Pat explains, "A hydroplane race is like a rock 'n' roll festival with Rolls-Royce engines instead of guitars. Young people were re-energized about the sport because their favorite radio station was right in the middle of it." O’Day & Associates staged teen dances all over the Pacific Northwest, showcasing local bands and touring acts like Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1967 Pat's dance business became Concerts West, staging shows for Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, the Beach Boys, the Moody Blues, the Eagles, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and many others. After undergoing treatment at Schick Shadel Hospital in 1986, he became its radio and TV spokesman. Pat always said it was his second passion, and he loved talking about the thousands of lives Schick Shadel helped to save. In 1989, Pat moved to San Juan Island, where he operated a real estate brokerage. I'll always treasure visiting him in Friday Harbor, our lunches at Downriggers and the clam chowder in Roche Harbor! Pat O'Day was among a group of pioneer deejays honoured by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be there with Pat, Dick Biondi, Cousin Brucie and many others that day. A guest of honour on my final radio show in 2017, Pat was in vintage form. He regaled our audience with tales of Frank Sinatra's visit to KJR, falling victim to an elaborate Paul McCartney wedding prank, his role in the success of "Wooly Bully"... you can hear them all in my series "The Last Broadcast". In the closing moments of that last show, Pat left me with some advice that still resonates today: "We waste so much time saying 'no', and we accomplish nothing with the word 'no'. But the word 'yes' can open the doors to magic." Thanks, Pat O'Day, for opening the doors to so much magic - and for inviting us in to watch a true magician at work!
6 minutes | Aug 31, 2020
Elvis In Vancouver - August 31, 1957
The highlight of 1957 had a date: August 31. The place: Empire Stadium, Vancouver. The occasion: The live appearance of Elvis Presley. More than 26,000 tickets were sold for the event. Presley arrived in Vancouver by train as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, did not want Elvis to fly. The train arrived in the morning at the Great Northern Railway station, catching the media off guard as they had anticipated he would be arriving by plane. He was then driven by limousine to the Georgia Hotel. I took the elevator to the 12th floor and started walking down the hall toward Elvis’ room. I knocked on the door, it flew open and Tom Diskin, Elvis Presley's road manager, greeted us. The meeting was brief: a handshake, a question here, an answer there. Elvis was cautious at our initial meeting but when he realized that I was not there to interview him, he was most cordial. We talked about his success, the types of music we both enjoyed and his enjoyment of live performances where he could see immediate reaction to his stage act. I guess one of the main reasons I have always been a Presley fan is that I discovered a down to earth individual who had not been affected by the incredible success that fell upon him. We said goodbye and I said that I was looking forward to his show and would see him later that day at the stadium. The next scene opens at the Elvis press conference. I discovered that only the newsmen had brought tape recorders. The other deejays had not. I hadn't been used to doing interviews with a press group and was determined to get my piece in. As the microphones were pushed into Presley's face I fought to ask him questions mostly related to his music. He seemed to understand that I was not out to gather any sensational news. When the press conference ended, Elvis and I were joined by two Vancouver policemen. We stayed there together for what seemed like an eternity waiting for the stadium to fill up with fans. These were intimate moments with the "King". We talked about growing up poor. We discussed the changing world, his family, my family, his love of rhythm and blues, country and gospel music. Elvis discussed at great length his ambitions with regard to his music. He asked me about my radio show, the kids that listened, how they reacted to his television appearances and his records. Just before I left the dressing room to go out and bring on the opening acts, Elvis stood up, stretched out his hand and said, "It was nice meeting you. Good luck with your radio career and I hope we get to see each other again down the road." With my heart pounding with excitement I left Elvis and walked toward the stage at the north end of Empire Stadium. I can't describe the feeling of looking out at a sea of 25,000 faces. I had to gather up every ounce of courage. My introduction was brief: I walked out to thundering applause and said "On behalf of the Teen Canteen, Canada’s largest teen show, I'm proud tonight to present to you, ELVIS PRESLEY!" The crowd went berserk. Elvis performed for only 25 minutes. He sang many of his hits including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Don't Be Cruel", "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", and "Hound Dog". As the crowd grew more alarming, Presley was ordered by his manager to wrap up the show and depart in his Cadillac, now parked conveniently behind the stage. It was truly an unforgettable evening. On August 31, 1982, to mark the 25th anniversary of Elvis' visit to Vancouver, CBC's Vicki Gabereau sat down with me and we covered some of the highlights of the concert. I thought I'd lost this interview, and it was a treat to hear it again. Hope you enjoy my recollections of one of the greatest days of my life.
10 minutes | Aug 27, 2020
The Last Broadcast: Episode 19
We dedicate the final episode of The Last Broadcast to the memory of a true radio legend: our friend Pat O'Day, who passed away August 4. Pat was an inspiration to everyone he met, and his passion for entertainment burned brightly right to the end. Here's another excerpt from the book: "Bruce Allen glances at the faces peering at them from the adjacent studio and through the small square window of the closed door, and he suddenly realizes the end has come. He says into his mike, 'It's been a thrill for me, Red, to sit here with you guys and talk to you, because these stories... this should be eight hours. They should have given us the whole damn day.' 'Agreed, Bruce.' Pat O’Day leans into his mike, intent on making his final words count. 'I want to say something else about Red, and his phenomenal success from the time he was in high school on through the years. The key to his success - and everybody listen to this - was his ability to use that magical word, "yes". We waste so much time saying "no", and we accomplish nothing with the word "no". But the word "yes" can open the doors to magic. Look what it's done for Red Robinson, as we celebrate his last big radio show.' Robinson introduces Aretha Franklin, but the song that closes the final broadcast couldn’t be more appropriate: "The Time of my Life," covered by Bill Medley. But just as they remove their headsets and stand up, producer Art Factora has a small surprise: through the speakers he plays what will be the coda to the show." Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com
3 minutes | Aug 16, 2020
"The Last Broadcast" with Red's special guests Pat O'Day and Bruce Allen, aired on CISL650/Vancouver on August 27, 2017. In this excerpt, the guys reflect on Elvis' untimely death on August 16, 1977. "Pat O’Day chimes in. 'It’s as good a time as any, Red, to spell one thing out. Why did Elvis pass away? It was really simple when you get down to it: he suffered from an inflammation in the lining of his heart. The same thing that had cost his mother her life. He'd had rheumatic fever in his youth, back when rheumatic fever was untreated, and he was left with heart inflammation that eventually brought on the end of his life - not a drug overdose.'” Red Robinson: The Last Broadcast, out now at friesenpress.com, chaptersindigo.ca, amazon.com, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com, play.google.com and books.apple.com We'll return August 27, on the third anniversary of the Last Broadcast, with our series finale.
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