Rosalie Trombley, 82, on Nov. 23, of complications from Alzheimer’s. Originally hailing from Leamington, ON, Trombley was initially hired at Windsor-Detroit Top 40 powerhouse CKLW-AM “The Big 8“ as a switchboard operator and receptionist in 1963. She eventually accepted a position in the station’s music library and by 1968 had moved into the role of music director. Trombley quickly established herself as “the girl with the golden ear,” because of the influence her playlist additions had on a single’s success. Due to the station’s 50,000 watt reach, which saw CKLW attract an audience beyond Windsor-Detroit into southwestern Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Indiana, her name became synonymous with hit radio with a 1973 Globe and Mail article dubbing her “Queen of the Top 40 Charts.” She is credited with helping break acts like Bob Seger, Kiss, Alice Cooper, The O’Jays, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament–Funkadelic, Queen, and Aerosmith into the Top 40 CHR charts. She also helped Canadian artists gain recognition in the U.S., including Gordon Lightfoot, The Guess Who, Paul Anka, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and Burton Cummings. One of the few women to hold a music director role at the time, Trombley’s run with CKLW extended from 1968 to 1984, through the station’s format transition away from Top 40. She went on to work with WLTI-FM Detroit and CKEY Toronto. In 2005, the Radio Trailblazers established the Rosalie Award, annually presented to a Canadian woman who has blazed new trails in radio. Trombley was its inaugural recipient. Among other accolades, she was inducted into Detroit’s Motor City Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame. She was honoured with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the JUNO Awards in 2016. Read more here.
Peter Aykroyd, 66, on Nov. 20. Alongside his older brother, Dan Aykroyd, Peter was part of the Second City comedy troupe in Toronto. After early acting appearances on SCTV, The New Avengers and Tom Schiller short, Java Junkie, Akyroyd went on to join the cast of Saturday Night Live in its fifth season in 1979-80. During his one-year stint with the show, he received an Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program Emmy nomination, along with several other writers. He continued to act throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s, embarking on several projects with his brother, including co-writing 1991 feature film, Nothing But Trouble. He went on to co-create PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, which had an 88-episode run. He also provided the voice of Elwood Blues for the 1997 The Blues Brothers: Animated Series adaptation, alongside Jim Belushi, in addition to small roles in Spies Like Us, Dragnet and Coneheads.
Sally Gardner, 75, on Nov. 20. A former CBC Vancouver script and continuity supervisor, Gardner served as script supervisor on 36 episodes of The Beachcombers. Among the other series she worked on was Vancouver-shot 1970s sitcom Leo and Me. Gardner was one of four people – along with director Don S. Williams and actor Michael J. Fox, in addition to a cameraman – who worked together between 1976 and 1980 and were all diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. The cluster was the subject of CBC documentary “The Parkinson’s Enigma” in 2002. Gardner lived with the disease for 39 years. Her husband was retired CBC Vancouver technical director and producer Derek Gardner.
Bill Hughes, 96, on Nov. 15. Growing up in New Westminster, BC, Hughes dreamed of being on the radio. He managed to get hired by CJAT in Trail, BC at age 19, working in the record library and signing the station on in the morning, among other tasks, before returning to Metro Vancouver and CKWX. He joined CKNW a year later as a newsreader and host, and eventually took over the station’s “Roving Mike” segment which saw Hughes engage with strangers, many times aboard local transit or tour buses, six times a week from 8:45 – 9 a.m. By the time Hughes retired in 1994, he had produced more than 15,000 Roving Mike segments. About a decade into his career, in 1954, Hughes was named General Manager of CKNW, one of the youngest people in the country to hold a GM position, which he remained in for 14 years. In the late 1950s, he joined Frank Griffiths (who went on to found Western International Communications (WIC)) and lawyer Walter Owen, in the purchase of CKNW from original licensee Bill Rae. Hughes sold his six per cent interest in the station in 1970 for $4 million.
Phyllis Webb, 94, on Nov. 11, on Salt Spring Island. Born in Victoria, BC, Webb studied English and Philosophy and was a published, contemporary feminist poet prior to joining the CBC in 1964. Alongside William A. Young, she co-created long-running CBC Radio One program, Ideas. She served as the program’s executive producer from 1967-69. She went on to create CBC Television program, Extension, a series about Canadian poetry. She continued to freelance for the public broadcaster throughout the 1970s, before moving on to teach creative writing at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and the Banff Centre. Webb won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1982. In 1992, she became an Officer of the Order of Canada.