In this week’s issue… Rochester’s 95.1 shuffles schedule – CKLW legacy remembered – Kaplan back to iHeart – PA simulcast splits – NEPM realigns signals
By SCOTT FYBUSH and SEAN ROSS
*I would have loved to have been in CANADA over the weekend, when Windsor, Ontario paid tribute to its most famous radio station and one of the most famous music directors in radio history.
Alas, schedules didn’t permit me to make the trip (I’m performing and producing shows all week at Rochester’s amazing Fringe Festival…)
Fortunately, several friends of the column were in Windsor for all the festivities, including Sean Ross of Ross on Radio, and I’m indebted to him for this coverage in text and photos of the events, live from Windsor:
Radio’s claims to be “the original social network” sometimes seem a little forced. But legendary CKLW Windsor/Detroit music director Rosalie Trombley certainly has a claim on being “the original influencer.” That’s how her son Tim Trombley, director of entertainment for Caesars Windsor put it at the Sept. 17 unveiling of a statue of Trombley across from Caesars on the Windsor waterfront.
The unveiling was part of a day’s worth of activities honoring Trombley, who helped make CKLW the key add for R&B crossovers, the gatekeeper for the government fiat Canadian content songs that could actually become American hits, and an early champion of everything from Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen” to Wayne Newton’s “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.”
Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens and Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings were among those unveiling the statue by artist Donna Mayne. Cummings told how “These Eyes” had already run its course in Canada before Trombley’s support made it a bigger hit at home and an international success. “I would not be here if it wasn’t for Rosalie.”
Besides the unveiling, there was also the opening a commemorative Trombley exhibition at Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum, and a screening of the CKLW documentary, “Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8” followed by a talkback with veteran CK staffers. In between, a private reception for CKLW staffers, Detroit record people, and others became an impromptu testimonial also, with former CKLW PD Les Garland declaring, “On the organizational chart she reported to me, but that’s not the way it was.”
There are oft-told stories about Trombley’s role in “These Eyes,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Beth,” and other major hits. I loved CKLW equally for its eccentricities. Trombley grumbled about “Cancon,” but veteran PD Brad Lovett, who travelled from Knoxville to Windsor for the ceremony remembers how his Celina, Ohio, station would get requests for those songs as a result of CK.
Seeing Trombley honored was a reminder of her role, and CKLW’s, in creating a 50,000-watt musical uniculture that is hard for current generations to imagine, as well as the role of music curation and enterprise, something that has been delegated to TikTok these days. It is worth noting that WKQI (Channel 955) has returned to Detroit CHR’s fast-on-R&B profile, is the leading most successful CHR in PPM, and sounded good when I heard them this weekend.
It was also possible to drive around Detroit and Windsor this weekend and hear two stations devoted to CKLW’s legacy. Bell Media’s CKWW (AM 580) is in the process of being sold, but former CKWW PD and CKLW veteran Charlie O’Brien’s Big8Radio.com is offering its own take; he was also a key person in coordinating the CKLW Reunion aspects of the weekend. (Bell, for its part, did help create the HonouringRosalieTrombley.com Website, and current N/T CKLW morning team Mike & Lisa emceed the unveiling.)
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