Rosalie Trombley, the golden-eared tastemaker who turned one of North America’s most strong radio programmers, died Tuesday of problems from Alzheimer’s illness, her loved ones claimed. She was 82.
As music director at Windsor’s 50,000-watt CKLW-AM across the Detroit River, the unassuming Ontario native was a audio-business force setting up in the late ’60s — breaking hits, participating in musical kingmaker and turning the station into an influential continental player.
“Rosalie was an icon, a trailblazer and our pal,” Bob Seger stated in a statement. “As a result of her difficult work and outstanding instincts, she accomplished a uncommon stage of impact and electrical power in music. When she obtained at the rear of your history, other stations would comply with go well with. She was literally a gatekeeper to national achievements and we have been so lucky to have her guidance, particularly on a lot of of our early documents. She was an integral component of our journey and we are eternally grateful. We will pass up her.”
Born in Leamington, Ontario, Rosalie Trombley moved back again to the city about 5 several years in the past and was in an assisted dwelling facility there at the time of her death.
“She just had this innate perception for what artists, what music, could have mass attraction,” claimed her son Tim Trombley. “The ability of AM radio back then was genuinely immeasurable. It was a very particular time.”
Trombley’s adventurous music picks — from rock to R&B — had been boosted by the broad get to of CKLW, a station listened to throughout Canada and just about two dozen U.S. states at night. Other radio programmers came to follow her lead.
“It was almost nothing to choose up the cellphone and hear ‘Hi, this is Bob Smith from Idaho, and I’m having all varieties of phone calls at my radio station for this report they’re hearing on your radio station. Inform me about “These Eyes” by the Guess Who,’” she recounted to the No cost Push in 2003. “It was like, ‘Wow.’ ”
Trombley — “the most potent lady in popdom,” as the Absolutely free Push explained her in 1971 — gave many mainstream radio listeners their initially flavor of new music from Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Funkadelic and other Detroit-associated acts. And she aided introduce American audiences to burgeoning Canadian artists, which includes the Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Bachman Turner-Overdrive and Paul Anka.
“I just imagine that Detroit had actual very good ears, the listeners, when it arrived to the music they heard on the radio,” she said in 2003. “The documents, the way they would split, the way they would market.”
Obtaining arrived in Windsor in 1963, Trombley began at CKLW with a aspect-time task as a weekend switchboard operator. Ultimately, she took a function in the station’s history library, and by 1967 was music director.
For the duration of a world-wide rock-tunes revolution, she was a conduit to AM radio and the Top rated 40 airwaves. And irrespective of CKLW’s Canadian household foundation, the station was regarded in the industry as a Detroit outlet.
“Basically, (Detroit) was starting to be identified as screening the accurate rock ‘n’ roll information,” Trombley said.
She also took cues from Black radio in Detroit, serving to split artists these types of as the O’Jays and the Foundations to pop audiences. In 1971, she was amid the to start with programmers who assisted make a strike out of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Likely On,” a file in the beginning resisted by Motown chief Berry Gordy.
In 1974, when she heard Detroit R&B station WJLB spinning an Elton John album minimize, Trombley additional the keep track of to CKLW’s rotation. “Bennie and the Jets” immediately ignited the station’s request strains, and John’s history label was shortly persuaded to launch it as his following one.
“A week later, Elton identified as her from England and preferred to know the total tale,” Tim Trombley mentioned.
Trombley’s veto electrical power was as crucial as her thumbs-up, and that make-or-split affect was immortalized by Seger in the vaguely sardonic 1973 tribute “Rosalie”: “She’s received the plastic / It will come from all the corners of the entire world / So fantastic / She’s everybody’s most loved little document girl.”
But Trombley, who when termed herself “a lyric freak,” was a bona fide Seger admirer, embracing his new music for the CKLW airwaves.
“It didn’t make a difference what it was by Bob,” she claimed. “He did not miss out on much too usually.”
Seger and Trombley ultimately cast a friendship, often assembly up at Windsor’s Hacienda restaurant to chat tunes. Their relationship, she stated, came from their equivalent, reduced-crucial personalities.
“I generally felt relaxed about an artist that I could belief, that would regard the privacy I stored in my non-public life,” she said.
Trombley’s knack for deciding upon hits was component instinct, element folks abilities, part devoted analysis. She solid tight interactions with history-shop operators in Detroit, the two white and Black, holding an ear to the ground for new data with bubbling profits.
“If I picked new music just to fit my flavor, I would not have my career,” she said in 1971. “I lean closely towards soul songs. I find it challenging individually to be significant of any Diana Ross report, for occasion.”
In a rollicking report and radio universe with its share of sketchy people, Trombley prided herself on her clean up way of undertaking organization.
“The record promoters and record businesses know superior than to present me payola,” she explained to the Free of charge Press in ’71. “They also know not to provide me a joint. I’m as well sq., far too straight for that sort of issue.”
Jo-Jo Shutty MacGregor, who was employed at CKLW in 1975 to come to be the initially female helicopter traffic reporter in North The us, known as Trombley an critical mentor whose power as a girl in a male-dominated sector commanded respect.
“Was not it awesome that an astounding 50,000-watt powerhouse like CKLW would pick out a woman to head that songs department? MacGregor mentioned. “It genuinely suggests a ton.
“What a superb spirit she was. No person has made a mark like she has.”
Trombley liked Detroit and used much time in the town, traveling to clubs these kinds of as the Grande Ballroom to catch rock and soul performers.
“If the newest R&B act coming up was taking part in, she’d go in excess of,” reported Tim Trombley. “She was accepted with open up arms by the Black new music community.”
Tim Trombley said Wednesday that his mother’s open up new music sensibility served make a exclusive time on the airwaves.
“It was just magical, the way it was programmed,” he mentioned. “All this numerous repertoire someway worked on this one radio station.”
Trombley’s CKLW reign from 1967 to 1984 was followed by stints at Detroit’s WLTI-FM and Toronto oldies station CKEY. She finally returned to Windsor and labored in the advertising and marketing division at the now-Caesars Windsor before retiring in 2008.
Son Tim Trombley reported his mother’s proudest work was her spouse and children. She was a single mother increasing two sons and a daughter.
“She liked her task, but did what she could to raise her three little ones,” Tim Trombley reported. “She had this great occupation and this good influence, but in her brain, that was secondary to increasing us.”
Trombley is survived by her son Tim Trombley and his spouse, Renee Trombley son Todd Trombley daughter Diane Lauzon and her husband, David Lauzon and grandson Bobby Lauzon.
A non-public company will be held for household users and buddies.
This story will continue to be current.
Get hold of Detroit Free of charge Push music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or [email protected]