Rosalie Trombley’s Power and Tower

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Preface: Today, we’ll be revisiting a rough stretch of my life’s path. But worry not, I’m only doing so to illustrate how an insufferable situation can morph into something far more transcendental and (quite literally) upbeat.

Some six decades prior to the coronavirus pandemic, elementary and middle school bullies (and adolescent acne) had introed me to social isolation.

Picture this bygone boy entering such a pivotal stage of life; yearning for peer acceptance, yet, instead, discovering how, to a fault, ex-chums had alienated him from the student body (inclusive of kids who hadn’t even known me and vice versa). My only means for avoiding their verbal and physical assaults had become feigning viral assaults; my allergies to airborne irritants oft making my symptomatology so indistinguishable from that of the common cold / bronchitis that unless my folks had taken my temperature, I knew I’d be home free.

It was on one of those very skip school sick days, circa early 1963, when my father had lent me his pocket transistor radio; i.e, to cheer up his son / make his “illness” more bearable. His favorite station being WJR a.m. 760 and my serendipitously advancing its tuner 40 kilocycles had become the two key factors in spurring one helluva a life changing, eureka event.

It was at that precise moment when I first heard the Canadian station CKLW (later known as “The Big 8”); their format more attuned to a much younger listenership. Their captivating new music was getting spun by DJs Bud Davies (6-10 a.m.), Joe Van (10-3), Dave Shafer (3-7:30), Tom Clay (7:30-midnight) and Ron Knowles (midnight-5).

That morn, music had become my very salvation; my lifeline / means of escape. In essence, recording artists and disc jockeys had become my surrogate peers. In time, the songs, themselves, had taken on that very role, too; so much so, that, to this very day, when a beloved recording that I haven’t heard in “eons” gets aired / streamed, I oft react in a manner one would expect during chance encounters with long absent loved ones.

Unbeknownst to me, 1963 was also the very year that Ms. Rosalie Trombley had applied for a receptionist / switchboard operator position at CKLW. And once hired and, toot sweet, promoted to musical director, she had also successfully cracked and shattered the glass ceiling of that male dominated field.

Trombley’s keen ear for what is and what isn’t great music, eventually, earned her, her “hit maker” reputation and I fully credit this wonderful woman for opening my own mind and ears to our vast, worldwide, musical spectrum; nearly every life enhancing concept that the dotted treble and bass clefs have to offer humankind.

She had presented the robust diversity of Sixties / Seventies Top 40 music, itself; e.g. Motown, Folk, Psychedelic, Surf, Garage, Blues, Progressive, Bubblegum, the British “Invasion”, Latin, Japanese, etc.

Case in point… Trombley had turned us on to Kyu Sakamoto’s track, Sukiyaki – Ue Wo Muite Arukou, which he sang entirely in Japanese. I mean, few, if any of us dummy, monolingual Americans could understand even one syllable of song composer Toshinobu Kubota’s lyrics; yet, we loved this vocalist’s soulfully delivered rendition all the same [read lyrics and hear original and cover performances HERE].

It was approximately a decade later when Michigan’s native son and hard rocker / recording artist, Bob Seger, in his (futile) attempt to get his early songs aired on CKLW, even composed his aptly titled track, Rosalie; where one of his couplets acknowledges…

“She’s got the power
She’s got the tower”

Bob Seger • From the LP Back in ’72 • [Read full lyrics HERE]

That power and tower, of which Seger was referring to, involved CKLW’s 50,000 Watt transmitter, which, once the ionosphere did its post sundown shift, dramatically increased “The Big 8’s” audience, who resided within the vast expanses east of the Canadian / American Rockies.

In a sense, that atmospheric anomaly, had been radio pioneer Trombley’s early brush with something akin to a scaled down version of today’s World Wide Web.

Alas… long sigh… it was soon after the Canadian powers-that-be had passed legislation requiring more Canadian musical content on their nation’s stations, that Trombley’s airwaves wound up suffocated. Big government had silenced “The Big 8’s” / her We are the World spirit. Consequently, CKLW’s turntables took a turn for the worse.

Mind you, I’m not bad mouthing the vast legions of know-no-limits, talented Canadian musicians / singers / song writers. I’m only saying that nationalism, when taken to such extremes, SUCKS!

But, let’s end this post on a more positive note.

Tho I never actually met Ms. Rosalie Trombley, the way her tower had so powerfully influenced my life makes it seem as if I had. For as long as my consciousness exists, I’ll deem her my primary musical mentor. What a unique opportunity, privilege and honor it has been for this once-upon-a-time, loyal CKLW listener to have played a small role an entire bygone radio era; to have experienced, in real time, her success story.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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“Forever in our hearts, always our inspiration.”

Last evening, Alex Trebek’s five, yet to be shown, final Jeopardy! episodes, taped mere days prior to his demise, began playing out. This transcendental episode (originally slated to air on December 21, 2020) began with his opening, impromptu, soul searching, holiday message:

“You’ll recall that about a month ago, I asked all of you to take a moment to give thanks for all of the blessings that you enjoy in your lives. Now, today, a different kind of message. This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones. But today, I’d like you to go one step further. I’d like you to open up your hands and open up your hearts to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society and if we all pitch in, just a little bit, we’re gonna get there.” [Watch Clip/Read More]

Alex Trebek • Air Date: January 4, 2021

If humanity is paying attention, such much needed wisdom will resonate and endure long after Alex’s final Final Jeopardy!, come Friday.

By next Monday, a series of select host candidates will begin auditioning to determine who, amongst the 7.8 billion of us, might come close to filling Trebek’s size infinity shoes.

Let’s hope that his successor will know, instinctively, that Alex is irreplaceable; may sense a momentary “blinding” by the aura / afterimage of his brilliance; perhaps even feel somewhat haunted by him while making each entrance onto the Jeopardy! stage.

Should the eventual new host be lacking such qualities, it’d be fair to suspect that (s)he has been miscast. And, so long as I’m hinting at this, anyway, let me add that the time is ripe for a game show, of this stature, to break the glass ceiling; namely, the Sony Pictures Television production company execs should select a savvy, suave woman to preside over the game.

Returning, now, to the rolling of last night’s closing credits…

For a fleeting moment, I had this wild notion; how great it’d be to rebroadcast the entire 36+ year run of Trebek’s Jeopardy!; perhaps, as an alternative to Pat Sajak’s / Vanna White’s Wheel of Fortune, which on most network schedules, precedes Jeopardy!

I’ve always found playing along with W of F’s contestants far less challenging and educational. Hey, don’t brand me an intellectual snob; my educational background, would rarely, if ever, crown me the Jeopardy! champion. Anyway, that’s not my point.

What is relevant, here, is that each episode of Jeopardy! serves as a teaching moment; can function as motivation for us to discover more about the world we don’t know. After all, we don’t stop learning until the day each of us takes our final breath. And for all we know, it may not end even then!

Of course, my aforementioned wish for that Trebek replay must remain just that. After all, the new host must be afforded the unencumbered opportunity to build upon Alex’s rock solid foundation. Most assuredly, he would’ve wanted it that way!

And that said, the show’s closing credits will sum up everything even better than I; namely, via their dedication to Alex Trebek:

“Forever in our hearts, always our inspiration.”

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Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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