Tomorrow morning (Friday), Country 105's Robyn Adair officially bids adieu to The Odd Squad and 32 years of morning radio.
So how is she going to feel on Monday when she no longer has to get up before the wee hours of dawn to prep for her award-winning show?
“I think I’m going to wake up at 3:30 a.m. and panic – ‘Oh my God, I’m late!,'" she jokes, half-seriously. "Because I’ve done it 32 years. I’m sure the panic will go away eventually – maybe with treatment, I don’t know.”
It's certainly been an illustrious career for the friendliest female voice in country radio: multiple Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Award nominations for different incarnations of the Odd Squad throughout the decades, plus the very fact that Adair has been able to keep the same gig for so long are blessings that are not lost on her.
“I feel really lucky," Adair told FYIMusicNews last week over the phone. "I’m shocked that it’s worked out this well. Those jobs where you get to stay in them for decades? Unheard of. So I feel extremely lucky and grateful for that.
"And the Morning show is the plum position to have in radio. Through the years that I’ve been at Country 105, I’ve changed partners a number of times: For 23 years it was Doug Veronelly and Dan Carson and myself. Now it’s Roger Rhodes for five years. Ray Grover and I were together a few years and Charlie West was my first partner here at Country 105.
"They’re all great guys and I’ve been lucky to work with them all. I run into them from time to time and keep touch with them on Facebook. And they’re all doing well and I consider myself lucky – considering there are such horror stories of people in radio not getting along with their partners. Again, I feel really lucky."
The Saskatchewan native first fell in love with radio as a child, noting that it was the one constant in her life.
"My parents moved us around every two or three years when I was a kid because my Dad was a lumber manager at Beaver Lumber. Then Mom and Dad bought a franchise and they settled down a little bit more.
"The one consistent thing in my life was that I could always turn on the radio and, when I hadn’t made any new friends yet after the latest move, it was some sort of comfort.”
Adair enrolled at Western Academy Broadcasting College for four months, graduated, and started working small market radio in 1985, working in Canmore, Red Deer and Edmonton before Calgary became her permanent country radio home.
"Canmore was pretty short – it was a part-time gig and it paid like $15 an hour, which in the ‘80s was huge, but I only had six hours a week, so I made $500 per month," she recalls. "I was there for two months and then Red Deer for maybe a year-and-a-half at CFDR, and then Edmonton at CISN for almost three years."
And they were lean years, Adair admits.
"It was really rough and I was really broke at the beginning, but finally, as time went on and our ratings started to improve, things got better. I was just hanging in there: the first five or 10 years were really, really rough.”
One day in 1989 she received a call from Calgary 105 music director - and later PD - Phil Kalssen, who informed her there was an opening in the morning show slot.
"The GM at the time was Rick Meaney, so he came up to Edmonton to interview me," Adair remembers. "It wasn’t really an interview - we just chit-chatted – and he hired me a few days later. I packed up everything I owned in six boxes in my little truck and drove to Calgary. I’ve been here ever since."
Adair chalks up her longevity to working hard and being persistent.
“I wasn’t afraid to try new things," Adair explains. "There were stereotypes about women in radio at that time but at least I was able to prove myself with my general manager. He let me try things – and then I took real ownership of the community events. Anything anybody asked me to do, I would say yes, so that gave me a bit of a name. Then I just really worked hard to build it, so people couldn’t say I didn’t earn it or that I didn’t belong there. Once you prove yourself, it gets a lot easier."
There are standout interviews - Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson come to mind - and the two charity trips she took with Paul Brandt to Belize and Cambodia that are highlights.
Adair is also proud of her involvement in the station's annual Caring for Kids radiothon, which has raised almost $40m for Alberta Children’s Hospital over the last 18 years.
"It feels so good to be part of something that’s actually making a difference in peoples’ lives,” she notes.
Adair says she has had a blast, but admits that she often sacrificed family and friends due to the nature of her job.
She's looking to make up for lost time.
“When people ask me why I’m retiring, I say it’s not the job – because I really love the job," Adair asserts. "It’s kind of a lifestyle. When I was young I could still go to a concert and stay up til midnight and still get up at 3:30, 4 a.m. and that was fine.
"Now, it seems like it takes a month to recover for something like that. So I go to bed at 7 p.m. and get up at 3:30 a.m. pretty much.
"Often there were concerts or charity things that we were able to be a part of or host, but my brother-in-law is having a birthday party that weekend that you’re going to have to say no to because you’re working.
"It’s a great job because it’s super fun, but it also tends to piss your family members off from time to time," she chuckles.
Adair had been planning to travel and spend more time with her son David, but the pandemic quashed both those plans.
But she is promising that there's a weekend kayaking trip in her near future, as well as some night classes...and dinner plans with friends.
"it’ll be neat to actually meet for dinner instead of saying, ‘can we meet at 4?’ and have them drag me down to the Blue Plate special.”
Robyn Adair says when she's on the air with Paul Brandt and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi tomorrow for her final show, she's not sure what's going to happen.
But she's certain she's enjoyed an amazing career along the way.
"The relationships I’ve made in the business have been good to excellent," says Adair. I just wanted to make a good living at it, go to free concerts and do interviews – I thought that’d be really cool – but it surpassed all my expectations."
"And it’s been a real honour."