Latest NewsPioneering rock n' roll disc jockey Red Robinson dead at 86

Pioneering rock n’ roll disc jockey Red Robinson dead at 86

Legendary Vancouver radio and television personality Red Robinson passed away Saturday morning, just two days after celebrating his 86th birthday.

The pioneering rock n’ roll DJ’s death was announced by his family on his social media channels.

“With deep sadness and broken hearts, we bring the news that our beloved Dad, Red Robinson, passed this morning at 8:15 a.m. after a brief illness. We’re so glad we got to spend his final moments with him, and having his brother Bill there made it extra special,” wrote Kellie and Sherrie Robinson. “Most people knew our Dad as a rock ‘n roll DJ, a TV personality, an ad agency owner, a spokesperson, or through his philanthropic work. He was larger-than-life in a lot of ways, but to us he was a devoted father and grandfather, a loving husband to our late mom Carole, and a loyal friend to everybody. Red’s departure leaves a huge hole in our lives, as well as the lives of everybody he touched in the worlds of radio, TV, music and entertainment.”

Robinson started his broadcasting career while still in high school at CJOR Vancouver in 1954. He’s credited as one of the first Canadian disc jockeys to regularly spin rock n’ roll on the West Coast.

From there, he went on to on-air stints with CKWX, starting in 1957, which played Top 40 at the time, and then KGW Portland where he worked in both radio and television. After a stint in the army, he returned to Vancouver in 1961 to take on the role of program director at CFUN. He eventually returned to CJOR as Operations Manager, and then CKWX where he hosted mornings from 1973-83. Nationally syndicated oldies show “Reunion” followed from 1985-93. Robinson went on to host mornings on 650 CISL Vancouver. While he semi-retired from radio in 2007, he continued to be heard on the station on and off until 2017.

Robinson’s more than six-decade career also saw him host numerous television programs, including CBC-TV bandstand-style show “Let’s Go” from 1963-66 and Trivia Challenge from 1979-80, which is said to have inspired the creation of the Trivial Pursuit board game. He also served as the host of the long-running Red’s Classic Theater on KVOS-TV Bellingham, WA until 2001.

Over the years, Robinson interviewed countless legends, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Johnny Cash.

In addition to his work in broadcasting, he also founded several advertising ventures, including Trend Advertising, which would later become Palmer Jarvis, as well as Vrlak Robinson Advertising, which eventually merged with Hayhurst Communications in 1987 to form one of Vancouver’s largest advertising agencies.

Robinson was elected into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2000. Great Canadian Gaming Corporation named its 1,100-seat theatre at its Coquitlam casino in Robinson’s honour in 2006. He was appointed to the Order Of British Columbia in 2016.

Robinson’s family says an event celebrating his life will be announced soon.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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