Legendary Windsor Radio Programmer Rosalie Trombley Dies at 82

"The girl with the golden ear" is credited with breaking some major names onto the North American charts

BY Kaelen BellPublished Nov 25, 2021

Legendary Windsor radio programmer Rosalie Trombley died on Tuesday (November 23.) She was 82. 

After starting as the station's receptionist in 1968, Trombley became the music director for CKLW and was known as "the girl with the golden ear." A major tastemaker throughout her career, she's credited with breaking artists like Bob Seger, the Guess Who, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gordon Lightfoot, Queen, Elton John and Alice Cooper on the North American charts. 

CKLW famously downplayed the fact that it was based in Ontario, instead, presenting itself as an American station. In the late '60s and early '70s, CKLW programmed for Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois, plus southwestern Ontario, Cleveland and Toledo. In its early-'70s heyday, the station — and Trombley — had one of the largest cumulative audiences in North America.

Bob Seger, frustrated that he wasn't being played on CKLW, even wrote a song about Trombley for his 1972 record Back in '72 — a sampling of the lyrics for "Rosalie" go: "She's quite the mediator / A smoother operator you will never see / She'll see you later / And no one dares disobey her openly / She knows music, I know music too you see / She's got the power, the teen queen Rosalie."

Trombley is also credited with persuading Elton John to release "Bennie and the Jets" as a single. The song went on to hit No. 1 on the US singles chart in 1974, due largely to its initial heavy rotation on CKLW. 

The "Rosalie Trombley Award" now honours women who have made their mark in broadcasting, and is presented during Canadian Music Week.

Listen to Bob Seger's "Rosalie" below. 

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