Fred Robinson, 60, 'Rockin' Robin' on radio

June 24, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Fred Robinson, 60, who as "Rockin' Robin" became one of the first popular black radio personalities in Baltimore, died Friday of complications from a stroke at Pikesville Nursing and Convalescent Center.

Robinson was president of Premiere Attractions, a company that brought popular acts -- including many of the groups that pioneered the Motown sound -- to the Baltimore Civic Center. His former wife said he received recognition in the 1960s from Frank Sinatra for promoting "My Way."

"Frank gave him a gold record for breaking the record in," said Florine Wise Robinson.

Robinson was born in Swedesboro, N.J. After graduating from high school in 1953, he worked briefly on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant in Delaware before moving to Philadelphia to attend broadcasting school.

He began his broadcasting career in 1956 at a radio station in Atlantic City, N.J., and became a disc jockey at WHAT-AM in Philadelphia in 1959.

Because of the popularity of the song "Rockin' Robin" at that time, Robinson adopted it as his theme and on-air name.

He came to Baltimore in 1962 to work for WEBB-AM and stayed five years before working for WWIN. When singer James Brown bought WEBB in 1969, Robinson returned to the station.

In 1963 Robinson married Florine Jackson Wise. The couple divorced in 1973.

In 1980, Mr. Robinson joined WITH-AM, a big-band station. Fellow disc jockey Ken Jackson said he, Robinson and other employees left the station in 1993 and went to work for WWLG-AM.

"He had a very warm and personable approach to the microphone," Jackson said. "He didn't use cliches of fast-talking. He was just casual, laid-back."

Robinson's easy-going style endeared him to audiences and upon hearing of his death, one listener called the station and began to cry, Jackson said. "He almost became their confessor," he added.

Robinson left the station in 1995 because of an illness.

In addition to his radio work, he was a licensed barber and co-owner Tra-Sand Productions and Marti Records, which managed and produced local artists.

In addition to his former wife, he is survived by a daughter, Freda Armstrong of Baltimore; two stepdaughters Katherine Wise-Bratcher and Theresa Wise, both of Baltimore; a brother, Robert Robinson of Camden, N.J.; and a sister, Gloria Huckoby of Pennsgrove, N.J.

A funeral will be at noon Friday at Christian Unity Temple Christian Community Church, 4800 Garrison Blvd.

Pub Date: 6/24/96

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