SYDNEY, N.S. -- One of the best known voices on Cape Breton island is retiring after more than a half-century on the air.

Jay Bedford has seen and talked about a lot in his career in radio. His unmistakable voice has been heard over the airwaves in Cape Breton since the 1970’s.

But his career in radio broadcasting got started even earlier, as an 18-year-old in St-Jerome, Que.

“52 years, my very first paid gig was August 4, 1968,” recalls Bedford, the music director and an announcer at New Country 103.5 in Sydney, N.S.

That mean’s Bedford’s time in radio predates the moon landing. 

From those ‘first steps’ to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bedford has seen, and talked about, pretty much everything in his long run behind the mic as a DJ.

But as he gets ready to finally call it a career, he’s also reminiscing about changes in radio itself.

“When I started in the business they were 45’s,” explains Bedford. “Then from 45’s to CD’s, to MP3’s, to audio files, to a big computer that holds everything that we need to be on air.”

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

One thing that’s remained a constant is Bedford’s passion for what he does.

“I would have retired years ago had it not been for the fact that I absolutely love getting up in the morning,” says Bedford. “I absolutely love the idea of communicating people, hopefully entertaining people, and passing on a lot of information. Things that people should know, or have to know.”

Bedford wasn’t planning on retiring until next spring, but is now stepping aside ahead of any second wave of COVID-19, so he can move to Calgary where his son is working in radio.

Co-worker Rob MacNamara says Bedford is one of the last of the true ‘old school’ radio announcers, but he still managed to keep up with the times.

“He certainly has a career to be proud of,” says Rob MacNamara. “He’s leaving on his own terms. To put it in perspective, somebody who joins the radio industry now and is in it for 52 years, would be retiring in 2072.”

Bedford’s last shift on-air will be August 14, but he says he won’t stop listening to the radio anytime soon.

“I will be listening to radio stations until the day I die. I love the industry, I love the business, and it’s very much a part of me. It’s right here,” said Bedford, pointing to his heart.

A voice that’s kept Cape Bretoners informed and entertained for more than half a century, signing off for for the final time.