As if waking up with Eddie Robinson five days a week wasn’t more than our Houston hearts could handle, the hunky 88.7 KUHF weekday host also scores with his Sunday morning LGBT sports show, “The Outfield.”
If Robinson seems like a natural, it’s because he’s been fascinated with broadcasting since an early age. Signaling what would become his passion, radio released currents in he could not tune out.
“My parents bought me a boombox one Christmas, and I took that thing with me everywhere – including church,” Robinson laughs. “I’d create my own homemade music shows, the antenna of the boombox serving as my microphone. I know it all sounds like a mess, but it actually worked out!”
Broadcast aspirations born, the Mississippi native landed his first real radio show on the local Country station while only a sophomore in high school. The gig didn’t last long.
“I kept talking so fast and didn’t possess a certain ‘twang,’” Robinson remembers. “I was quickly moved to work on the Top 40 Hits station.”
Recalling requests and dedications from friends, Robinson jokes that they were unaware that their classmate was the one spinning their Saturday night soundtracks. Robinson’s on-air anonymity helped assuage the pressures of a “strict, religious household.”
“No one could see me or judge me while I worked on radio,” he admits. “[It] allowed me the opportunity to be incredibly and explosively creative.”
While earning an engineering degree from Prairie View A&M, Robinson continued to raid the university’s airwaves. After finding no satisfaction in his post-college career, he moved to New York to pursue a graduate degree and full-time broadcast work.
Landing what could have been his big break at CBS News in late 2000, the tragic events of 9/11 sent Robinson’s confidence into a tailspin.
“9/11 happened — during the actual morning broadcast I had been producing at CBS News – and almost immediately I went into a state of confusion with what my purpose in media would be.
“Thoughts of being outed also crept up,” he adds.
In and out
Robinson contemplated moving back South before receiving a position as a producer and engineer at New York Sports Radio WFAN, though it kept the closet door closed tight on his career.
“It would seem like [WFAN] would be a tremendous opportunity, right?” Robinson says. “Well it was, but that position placed me deeper and deeper into the closet . . . WFAN’s newsroom at that time was extremely homophobic.”
While working for WFAN from 2001 – 2007, Robinson suffered a series of setbacks including two suicide attempts in 2003. Following those, he met the man who would forever change his life.
“The beginning of 2004, I met my first and only boyfriend to date — Peter Byrnes,” Robinson shares. “Although we’ve split, he is my best friend on the entire planet. He saved my life and helped me realize the power of love and the importance of living life to the fullest.”
After Robinson quit WFAN, he landed jobs with MTV Networks and New York Public Radio’s WNYC.
“I was openly gay at both, so once again — there’s that recurring theme: when I’m able to live my life fully and openly, the creative juices tend to flow a lot easier.”
That creativity helps juice up Robinson’s latest project as he tackles sports news and LGBT athleticism on SiriusXM’s “The Outfield.”
Partially informed by his own closeted sports experiences — in addition to WFAN, Robinson also played high school football — Robinson credits “The Outfield’s” conception to a weeklong set of workshops prior to the first World OutGames opening ceremonies in 2006.
“I was blown away . . . meeting athletes in the competition from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia — places where they’d be arrested or killed if authorities knew they were competing in this event — I was filled with emotion,” Robinson says. “I knew something had to be done.”
'Real, genuine conversations'
Robinson received his shot when “The Outfield” premiered in April 2014 with the news of Derrick Gordon coming out as the first ever openly gay Division I NCAA player. Realizing there is still “a great deal of work to do” in professional sports and LGBT participation, Robinson wants “The Outfield” to open doors.
“There are a host of narratives and stories related to sports and athleticism that need to be told and explored,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being a facilitator of those stories through a unique, national platform. … We need to have real, genuine conversations about what’s going on with gay athleticism in professional sports and how it impacts the world of high school and collegiate sporting activities.”
While hoping to return to television one day, Robinson is content exploring the sporting stories of LGBT athletes — and in some little way his own — as he looks forward to starting a new chapter in his personal life. Primarily focused on his career, Robinson says that he’s on the market and ready to start dating.
“My parents have been together for over 40 years, and I’d actually like to use their commitment as a possible standard for my next serious relationship,” Robinson says.
So while Houston gets Robinson six mornings a week, maybe you have what it takes to get his seventh?