By Cam Tait
The Air Canada jet backed up from on the Edmonton International Airport runway on a rainy October morning in 1994.
The pilot shook his head, and the stewardess smiled and waved while the Ottawa-bound passengers wondered just what the heck was going on.
There I was, in my wheelchair, in pair of Air Canada blue overalls, yellow ear muffs on my head, and two orange batons, waving as mightily as I could, to get the jet out on time.
It was all Rob Christie’s fault.
When the Canadian radio legend takes his headphones off for the last time at 9 a.m. Friday morning on 963 Capital FM, it’s time to say thank you.
I met Rob and his wife Diane in 1979 over several adult beverages in Onoway. We became friends and shared many laughs together.
Like 1994. Rob and his long-time partner Audie Lynds were on Power 92 and the Rolling Stones came to Edmonton for two shows.
Power 92 launched a contest – Stunts For Stones. If you did something really out there – I mean really out there – you got tickets to see the Stones.
I’ve always wanted to wave out a jet aircraft at an airport. I ran it by Rob and he thought I was absolutely out of my tree. Nothing new, though.
He liked it, though. I asked Barbie Swanson and Dan Mume, Air Canada employees, if my idea would be possible. They said yes and we made it happen: I waved out a jet and we gave the tickets to the Rainbow Society.
My story is one of countless activities Rob helped create during his radio career.
He created Christie’s Kidding, a segment on the radio where he called people and played pranks on them. Listeners contacted Rob and suggested pranks on their friends.
One of my favourites was when Rob called a champion dog breeder who had taken his border collie to the vet to have his nails cut.
Rob called the gentlemen and posed as the veterinarian and said the “procedure went very well,” suggesting the dog was neutered.
Rob carried the story along for a few minutes and then ended it with the signature line “Christie’s Kidding.” (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A FEW CHRISTIE’S KIDDING CLASSICS)
There are many more pranks which were priceless and I’m surprised there weren’t any massive heart attacks during the surprises.
Rob worked for 630 CHED, Power 92, Magic 99 and finally 96.3 Capital FM. Along with Diane, the Christies have shared their time with numerous charitable causes.
Radio morning personalities become part of our lives: they join us first thing in the morning – some even before our shower. They’re with us at the breakfast table, embracing the rest of the day, sharing important news, weather and traffic.
But they do more. On mornings when we feel like pulling the covers over our heads and sleeping for a few more hours, they make us laugh, give us something to think about to make us realize what we have … and how people we love rely on us to be the best we can be.
Rob has done that for thousands of people. His creativity has enabled many to achieve their own dreams.
So happy retirement, my friend. On your next flight out of the airport, I’ll do my very best to get you and Diane out on time and to the right runway.
IF YOU HAVE ANY RETIREMENT WISHES FOR ROB, PLEASE SEND THEM HERE