Rosalie Trombley’s Power and Tower


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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Life’s Simple Pleasures

My cherished recollections of holiday specific, family fun, undoubtedly, have been indelibly time stamped, 9 December 1965, by the radio and television transmissions, airing on that very day. Stepping into the ol’ time machine…

It had been shortly after our Thursday supper, when my Pop and I had driven off to our small town Michigan’s Mom and Pop grocery store. While he took care of the provisioning, I had wandered off to the 45rpm record display; with one and only one goal in mind.

I just had to snag myself a copy of the rock and roll instrumental, No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In) recorded by the T-Bones. This track had first been used within an Alka Seltzer television ad campaign and, next, minus all of the product hoopla, eventually got transmitted over radio stations, nationwide; in my neck of the woods, this (now) classic blasted out over CKLW Windsor / Detroit’s 50,000 watt energized airwaves.

After dad paid for the groceries and I forked over 98¢ for my new record, we headed for home. Once my Zenith monaural record player had spun my new disc (at least a half a dozen times)…

It was time for my family and I to gather in our living room to set up / decorate our Christmas tree. No sooner had our home taken on a far more festive ambience than my favorite comic strip, Peanuts, the brainchild of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, came to life via the CBS network’s debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas; all further enhanced and jazzed up by the Vince Guarldi Trio’s, by and large, instrumental soundtrack.

Returning to the here and now, all of my fond recollections are sure to continue playing out, throughout 9 December 2020, especially after tonight’s supper when, just for the symmetry of it all, I plan to rev up my CD player to track thru that vintage T-Bones track, set up my Christmas tree and, to top off the entire evening, pop into the VCR an ancient VHS tape to re-experience Schulz’s animated Christmas masterpiece.

Considering the past year’s events, which we all wish we could forget, memories of life’s simple pleasures do mean so much.

So much more!


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R.I.P. Trini Lopez (Sunday Song Series)

Singer / guitarist / recording artist Trini Lopez, 83, passed away this past Tuesday, August 11, 2020 (due to COVID-19 complications). His professional career had spanned 1959 thru 2020.

I first became aware of his limitless musical artistry, proficiency and energy… way back in 1963… when radio jocks were playing his lively, chart topper hit interpretation of If I Had a Hammer… courtesy of station CKLW’s (Windsor, Ontario), 50,000 watt, broadcast tower.

Mr. Lopez’s cover of the Manos Hadjidakis compostion, Never on Sunday (first sung by Melina Mercouri in the film of the same name), becomes our Sunday Song Series’ Week #101 selection… now playing out in this BlogCast and beaming all across the www… courtesy of WordPress’ powerful blogging platform.

Although music aficionados, worldwide, feel saddened, we can take comfort in knowing that the vast discography, which superstar Trini Lopez has bestowed upon humanity, will shine on in perpetuity.

You’re cordially invited back for our next Sunday Song… seven days from now.


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The 3 Minute Instrumental ~ Vid of the Day

Back in the day when Top 40 a.m. radio stations… such as Windsor, Ontario’s CKLW… ruled supreme over popular music of the 1960s, it was child’s play for the listener to zone out on the the 3 minute instrumental… such as Vince Guaraldi’s Cast Your Fate to the Wind… to envision imagery in the theater of the mind… such as what we see in our Vid of the Day.

I’d be remiss not to Cast my Kudos to the Wind to YouTube videographer JamesTJordan1 for so adeptly capturing the wind… and with a montage of still photos, no less! Kinda makes you want to revisit your younger days… to gleefully rush outside to fly a kite, doesn’t it?







Rock and Clay ~ Vid of the Day

I first listened to rock jock Tom Clay on CKLW “The Big 8” as a young boy. That radio station transmitted out of Windsor, Ontario and when Earth’s ionosphere worked its magic after sundown, their 50,000 watt signal could be picked up by AM radios throughout much of eastern Canada and America.

Based solely on Clay’s on-air persona, one could’ve easily deemed him an honorable, admirable guy.

However, when it came down to how he conducted his off-the-air life… well…. let’s just say that when he was wrong he was stunningly wrong.

But when he did get everything right… well… our Vid of the Day is a testimonial to the good side of Clay’s character. Let’s eye / ear witness his film clip enhanced social commentary / musical mash-up of What the World Needs Now Is Love with Abraham, Martin and John.

As for the rest of the story, I’m linking us to both Clay’s Bio-1, Clay’s Bio-2 and the Song Facts.