It’s truly the end of an era as 80 years young broadcaster, Robbie Shepherd MBE lays down his microphone after 35 consecutive years of the much loved, ‘Take the floor’ weekly Scottish country dance music radio show. Robbie’s going to enjoy a less hectic recording schedule but the good news is that he’ll be ‘popping up now and again doing bits and pieces’ for the BBC in the coming months and years, so his voice will still be on our airwaves.
How do you encapsulate a man who is so much a part of the fabric and landscape of Scottish music and culture?
‘A national treasure, a gem of a man, a true professional, meticulous, the distinctive voice of many Highland Games, warm, modest, likes a dram, oh and kens his music!’ These are just some of the comments made during a recent 80th birthday radio tribute on BBC Scotland.
Robbie’s jaunty, well informed and warm presentation will be hugely missed as he retires from ‘Take the floor’ . His distinctive voice flies the flag for the Doric tongue all over the world and with his encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish country dance bands and their music, he shares stories, poetry and requests with his many listeners.
I can’t count how many happy, toe tapping journeys in the car my family have enjoyed listening to Robbie on Saturdays after the football!
So what’s Robbies secret? Personally, I think just being himself and the fact that he kens fit he’s spikkin’ aboot!
Always well prepared, Robbie connects in his own natural way with folk across the world.
I’m proud to say that we go back a long way.
My father Calum gave Robbie his first professional stage engagement at The Tivoli Theatre in Aberdeen and always said he was ‘ a natural’ and an instant hit with the audience.
Robbie’s day job at that time was a Financial Director working quite coincidentally for the man who was to become my father in law, Dr Francis Clark, owner of well known fishing company Claben. As well as being in charge of finance at the Aberdeen based office, Robbie was ‘the roving accountant’ dealing with all the fish selling offices on the west coast of Scotland, working with great characters in the fishing industry- Ivan Boardley in Ayr, Mallaig based Jimmy Hepburn, George MacKay in Lochinver and Sandy Duthie in Ullapool. All legends in their own lunchtime!
It wasn’t long before the fishing industry’s loss was stage and radio broadcasting’s gain. Robbie’s hobby became his full time job as the pull of the entertainment world took its hold.
Robbie met Esma his wife, a very accomplished pianist, during his time playing ‘the moothie’ in The Garlogie Four (named after the pub where they played sessions).
Robbie became in great demand as a presenter and the rest as they say is history.
Over the years he has been actively involved with great North East charity, VSA (Voluntary Service Aberdeen) and in particular with Easter Anguston Farm. All the youngsters there adore Robbie who champions all that they do.
But back to the BBC where producer Jennifer Cruikshank has worked with Robbie for 31 years and told me ‘he’s a pure joy to work with and so well prepared for everything’.
As for Robbie, he says ‘fortunately I’m still ‘a wanted man’, in broadcasting terms that is! So you’ll be hearing me from time to time’.
Great news for all of us!