The Girl with the Golden Ear
nytimes.com, qzvx.com, cbc.ca
Rosalie Trombley began her illustrious career as a receptionist and switchboard operator at the AM top 40 radio station, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. She was quickly promoted to music librarian and then music director, where she solidified her reputation as a legendary taste-and-hit-maker. She was the first to play many records at The Big 8, which was a highly influential station with a 50,000-watt transmitter heard over a wide cross section of Ontario and the Midwest US. Once played here, other radio stations in North America and the world copied, rocketing the careers of many significant artists.
Trombley’s selections for airplay are credited with jumpstarting the international success of countless artists including The Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot, and Alice Cooper.
Michigan rocker Bob Seger even wrote a song for her – “Rosalie.” According to the Junos: “Trombley’s method was simple: if the track was good she would play it. As a result, it quickly became known amongst the industry that the only way to be featured on CKLW was if you had a legitimate record. Her uncanny intuition and profound understanding of the station’s audience made famous songs out of tracks like “Stand Tall” by Burton Cummings and Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby.”
Rosalie Trombley was the first woman awarded the Walt Grealis Award for Special Achievement (2016), and was inducted into the Motor City (Detroit) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Windsor’s St. Clair College has a scholarship in Trombley’s name for the Music Theatre Performance program. Rosalie Trombley died on November 23, 2021.