Jay Bedford’s voice is one Cape Bretoners have come to know as soon as they cross the Causeway.

This week, Bedford is celebrating 50 years behind the microphone -- most of it in Cape Breton.

“I came up here not expecting to stay, and fell in love with the people, the area, everything about Cape Breton Island,” said Bedford, the music director and an announcer at New Country 103.5 in Sydney, N.S.

“The Jaybird,” as he's often known on-air, started at his high school radio station, but as more of a tech guy behind the scenes.

Then, fate intervened.

“One day, one of the announcers wasn't available and I ended up doing an on-air shift and fell in love with the concept of being behind the microphone,” Bedford says.

His first on-air job was in 1968, at the age of 18 in St-Jerome, Que.

He came to Sydney in 1971 and, over the years, he's done morning shows, afternoons, early every job in the industry.

He’s beloved by listeners for his warm and friendly voice and by colleagues for his unrivalled passion for radio and his sincere willingness to help other broadcasters.

“50 years! Congratulations, my friend,” colleague Don Sharpe says to Bedford.

“Jay’s the real deal,” says Sharpe. “He was born with radio in him. 50 years later, he has the same passion for the business as he did the first day he started in 1968. He's the most positive, heartwarming guy you'll ever meet. And it's a pleasure to work with him each and every day.”

Although, he's been in the business 50 years, don't ever accuse him of not being with the times!

“I still feel very relevant,” Bedford says. “I keep up on all the blogs, all the information that comes my way about the radio industry itself.”

He's had offers to work elsewhere -- even in Bermuda.

But being in radio here on this island, he says he’s already living the dream.

“Istill have to buy groceries, OK, but I enjoy it so much, I would literally do it for free,” Well, maybe not for free, it might take a cup of coffee or two to keep the self-described “coffeeholic” going.

Bedford says he’s an on-air “lifer,” who has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.