Rock Robinson Biography
Popular DJ wowed Orlando listeners for 11 years
January 26, 2013|By Matthew Richardson, Orlando Sentinel
Ocoee resident Rock Robinson was a fast-talking, quick-witted DJ who held the No. 1 spot with Orlando's WHOO(-AM 990) morning radio show from 1958 to 1969. His career in radio lasted a little more than a decade. But if anyone were to ask him, he'd say it's what he was destined to do his whole life, said his son Jim Robinson of Windermere. A few audio clips that Robinson found and later uploaded to YouTube make it obvious how Rock captured so many listeners. His natural, playful demeanor could be heard through the airwaves and the jokes and rhymes came nonstop. "I hear you buzzin', cousin," Rock would say as the phone rang. "Speak up loud and clear so we can hear you, dear." For 11 years, Rock's clever delivery informed and entertained many throughout Orlando. Rock Robinson died Jan. 20 from complications caused by Parkinson's disease. He was 93. He was born in Muskegon, Mich., on September 19, 1919, a birthday that became a running joke in the family. And while Rock enjoyed talking, Robinson said, he wasn't quick to discuss his experiences in World War II. Robinson said his father enlisted and became a tail gunner at the start of World War II. He was honorably discharged after the war. Always known by family and friends as a great storyteller, Rock gave radio hosting a shot in Lansing, Mich., in 1954 and his career quickly took off. In 1956, he accepted a radio gig in Miami but a quick turn of events led him instead to accept a job with WHOO in Orlando. "He was actually on his way to Miami to accept a job, but stopped in Orlando for the night," Robinson said. That same day, Rock met the owner of WHOO, who said that he "wanted to bring someone bigger than life to Orlando." Rock was that someone. "The guy gave him an offer he couldn't refuse," Robinson said. In 1958, Rock debuted on WHOO with the "Rock Robinson Show". "He was liked instantly," Robinson said. Anyone that knew my dad loved that show." Robinson said his father had the No. 1 rated show for eight years. He's held a marathon broadcast for 72 hours and he's broadcasted from a suspended crane," Robinson said. "They did some crazy things, but he was a celebrity back then." Rock inspired others with his talent. Richard Russo Jr., who lived down the street from Rock, was one of them. "I would sit at the station with Rock and watch him work and caught the radio bug," Russo said. Russo went on to become a sports-radio personality with several stations, but he never forgot who sparked his interest in radio. "Rock was just a great guy," Russo said. After Rock's father died, he moved back to Michigan in 1969 and worked in another radio station for three years, then moved back to Orlando and became involved in a timeshare business. His full retirement came in 1983 when his first wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She later passed away. "My dad was a tough person and he pushed his way through everything," Robinson said.