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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Monday, July 31, 2006

WAIF-FM meeting tonight

An information meeting about WAIF-FM (88.3), the non-profit station in East Walnut Hills, will be 5:30-8 p.m. today at Simone’s restaurant, 1544 Madison Road, Walnut Hills. The Urbanists – an informal group of city residents and professionals – will lead the discussion about the 30-year-old listener-supported station, says Joe Wessels, a former WAIF-FM talk host and former board member.
The group wants to improve the station by expanding the membership base, to nfluence WAIF-FM board elections in September.
“Many would like to explore how an expanded membership could bring new life to this unique community (asset),” he says.
Tuesday is the deadline for buying a membership ($15) to be eligible to vote at the station’s Sept. 17 annual meeting, he says.

ABC news
Hope you’re not hooked on "The One: Making Of A Music Star," ABC's "American Idol" ripoff. (There can’t be that many of you.) ABC just pulled the plug after 2 weeks. More "According to Jim" and "George Lopez" reruns will fill the time slots Tuesday and Wednesday. ABC also has pulled the "Extreme Makeover" season premiere scheduled for Thursday, for "Grey’s Anatomy" reruns.

Made in Cincinnati
MTV's "Made" episode about Jordan Rolfes, 17, a LaSalle High School student, airs at 4:30 p.m. today. It was taped in April and May.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Today's Top Story???

Did you see the No. 1 story voted by viewers on Channel 5's "Top 5 at 11" last night? It was the North College Hill kid who appears on MTV's "Made" on Monday! That was the Top News Story of the day for Thursday??? Not CVG having the highest fares in the nation? Jillian's closing? AK Steel workers joining a big national union? Hamilton County to build a new $225 million jail? The man charged with murdering his Fairfield girlfriend? The Oxford rape suspect linked to an Indiana case?
No, our top story tonight was Jordan Rolfes, 17, getting a date for his LaSalle High School prom two months ago while being filmed by MTV. (It airs 4:30 p.m. Monday.)
I'm just wondering out loud here: Could this vote-for-your-top-5 strategy by sabotaged by folks who don't like the station, sort of like the www.votefortheworst campaign against "American Idol?" Could enough folks vote for the stupidest stories to embarrass Channel 5? Just wondering....
One more note: You can read more about Rolfes and his "Made" show in my column this Sunday.

Mike McConnell's last show
Today is Mike McConnell's last local show on WLW-AM. On Monday he begins national syndication from his 9 a.m.-noon time slot. So expect him to be less local next week... He's been doing the national "The Weekend" for 120 Clear Channel stations for three years, and thinking about doing a daily national show all that time.
When I interviewed him for a story running in Sunday's A&E section, McConnell told me his goal is to be No. 1 of all the syndicated shows in the time period in two years. His national competitions includes Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham and Jerry Springer. You can listen to his show this morning on

Thursday, July 27, 2006

July TV Ratings Are In

July local news ratings from overnight Nielsen meters came in this morning. It’s usually considered the least important of the four sweeps books – with viewing patterns disrupted by vacations – but you can still see local viewing trends. And the trends looks similar to May sweeps: Channel 12 was first 5-7 a.m., noon and 11 p.m.; Channel on first 5-6:30 p.m., with Channel 12 second. Channel 5 was third in all newscasts except 5-7 a.m., when it was fourth behind third-place Channel 19. Channel 19’s 10 p.m. news was only local late newscast to increase ratings. In a month, Channel 19 gets competition at 10 p.m. from a Channel 64 newscast produced by Channel 12, with anchors Cammy Dierking and Dave Burchell (starting Aug. 21). I'll check back later today to read your comments about the news wars here...

Lance’s Cincinnati lover
Did anyone recognize the name of Lance Bass’s gay partner, Reichen Lehmkuhl? Reichen, who won "The Amazing Race 4" in August 2003 with his partner Chip, was born here. (They were identified as Reichen and Chip from Beverly Hills.) He attended St. Ann’s Elementary School in Groesbeck. At age 10, he moved with his mother to Boston, where he went to high school. He went to the U.S. Air Force Academy, then moved to California. Reichen has dabbled in acting, appearing on "Days Of Our Lives," "Frasier," "Drew Carey" and "The Young and the Restless." His father and stepmother live in Clermont County. If anyone out there has stayed in touch with him, please let me know. I'd love to interview him.

Made in Cincinnati
For months I’d heard rumors that MTV was filming a "Made" here, and finally I’ve got confirmation. At 4:30 p.m. Monday we’ll see a half-hour episode featuring Jordan Rolfes, 17, of North College Hill. MTV producers prepared him to go on his first date, attending the LaSalle High School prom in May at The Syndicate in Newport. Rolfes tells me he’ll be seen skydiving and taking dancing lessons. MTV found Rolfes through an open casting call at the downtown public libray in January. MTV also has shot a second "Made" here, with Milford High School student Katrina Knuckles. Her episode will air this fall, MTV says.

Tease for new station

Folks attending the Macy’s Music Festival this weekend will see a teaser ad in the program for the new sister FM station for the WIZ FM and the BUZZ AM. It simply says, "Coming Soon! Get Ready for 100.3 FM," with a backdrop listing every possible radio format. Here’s my guess – it will be a music station, and it will play the music of Friday headliner Patti LaBelle. Radio One, which owns WIZ and BUZZ, has bought country station WIFE-FM in Connersville, and are moving it here. All they’ve said is that it will be on the air about or before Labor Day.

Tom Sandman update
Tom Sandman, longtime creative director and former music host at WARM98, has taken his act to WMKV-FM (89.3), the big band/nostalgia/old-time radio/senior services station at Maple Knoll Village retirement community in Springdale. He hosts "Sandman Standards" 5-7 p.m. Saturdays (the first hour repeats Thursdays at 8 p.m.). Sandman, who also is an account executive at the station, will open his 6 p.m. hour Saturday with 30 minutes of Spike Jones music, the crazy music satirist popular in the 1950s. It’s a plug for the free outdoor Kentucky Symphony Orchestra performance of Spike Jones music with Jones impersonator Carl Mack at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Devou Park Amphitheater. By the way, WMKV-FM has picked up Mike Martini , Mark Magistrelli and their old-time radio shows that aired last year on WVXU-FM, before Xavier University sold the station.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Radio Ratings Are In

Yes, I know this is the "Television" blog… but it’s also my blog, and today we’re gonna talk radio. I can tell from your postings that many of you are interested in local radio. Arbitron ratings for spring quarter have arrived, and delivered a big kiss to WARM98, WUBE-FM and Dusty Rhodes’ new WDJO-AM.

WLW-AM again was No. 1 for all listeners (ages 12 and older), as it has been since January 2000. It also was No. 1 in the 25-54 demo that advertisers want.

Soft rock WRRM-FM (WARM98.5) was No. 2 for all listerners and 25-54. It was No. 7 a year ago, and No. 5 the previous (winter) quarter.

Country WUBE-FM (B105.1) was No. 3 for all listeners and 25-54, as it was a year ago.

Rocker WEBN-FM (102.7) dropped to No. 5, from No. 2 a year ago.

On the other end of the list – and we mean the bottom – was WCKY-AM (1530). The Air America liberal talk format was No. 24 of No. 27 stations in the market, with a 0.6 audience share – less than half of the format’s high-water mark (1.3) last summer and fall. Dayton and Middletown stations beat liberal talk in the rankings. That explains why Clear Channel moved Jerry Springer and liberal talk to weaker WSAI-AM (1360) earlier this month, and put the Homer sports talk format on 50,000-watt 1530. Homer drew a 1.3 share (tied for 15 with WAQZ-FM), up slightly from 1.1 a year ago.

So far, Dusty Rhodes gets the last laugh. Clear Channel ditched the oldies format for Springer and liberal talk in January 2005. Well, Rhodes took the format last February to little WDJO-AM (1160), and it’s doing OK. It scored a 1.2 share in spring, its first full quarter on the air – nearly matching the best that liberal talk ever did on WCKY-AM.

Haven’t had time to look at all the ratings breakout, but did see one thing interesting: In morning drive 25-54, the syndicated Bob & Tom show WOFX-FM (FOX92.5) was No. 1, followed by Bill Whyte and Amanda Orlando on country B105, Dean and Randi on WARM98 and Jim Scott No. 4 (after being 1 or 2 for the past two years).

Here are the 12+ rankings for the top 25 stations:

1. WLW-AM, 9.9

2. WRRM-FM, 7.0

3. WUBE-FM, 6.7

4. WKFS-FM, 6.5

5. WEBN-FM, 5.6

6. WGRR-FM, 5.2

7. (tie) WIZF-FM, WOFX-FM 4.9

9. WMOJ-FM, 4.0

10. WKRC-AM, 3.7

11. WKRQ-FM, 3.6

12. WYGY-FM, 3.5

13. WVMX-FM, 3.1

14. WAKW-FM, 1.8

15 (tie) WSAI-AM, WAQZ-FM, 1.3

17 (tie) WDBZ-AM, WDJO-AM, 1.2

19. WPFB-FM, 1.1

20. WTUE-FM, 0.9

21. (tie) WCIN-AM, WHKO-FM, 0.8

23. WOXY-FM (simulcast with Georgetown FM stations), 0.7

24 (tie) WCKY-AM, WGTZ-FM, 0.6\

I'm interested in your take on the ratings. Fire away!

Colbert reports on The Enquirer

Caught this one on the repeat Tuesday night of Monday’s "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. Stephen Colbert cited an Enquirer story last week about Camp Quest in St. Clair Township, north of Hamilton, for atheists and agnostics.

Joked Colbert: “The campers are also given other untenable philosophical challenges, like proving tetherball is fun…. How about canoeing on a lake of Hell fire for eternity?”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CrimeStoppers cashes in

The "Wheel of Justice" has helped save CrimeStoppers. Several Cincinnati businesses will present a check for $90,000 to CrimeStoppers today during Channel 12's 6 p.m. news today. Channel 12, Mayor Mark Mallory and Police Chief Tom Streicher encouraged local businesses to donate to CrimeStoppers at a station lunch in May. This is the payoff, which I mentioned in my "Wheel of Justice" story May 30.

Because CrimeStoppers was running tight on funds, Channel 12’s Deb Dixon had sought independent funding for the 6:45 a.m. Wednesday Wheel of Justice rewards since its Feburary debut. (She spins a carnival wheel plastered with a dozen police mugshots, and police go after that person. So far they’ve caught 26 people in 21 spins!)

The fund-raising lunch was held for two reasons – to give CrimeStoppers some financial security, and to provide weekly "Wheel of Justice" rewards too. In early May, CrimeStoppers officials had said they could run out of money by Labor Day, because of so much crime (and rewards paid) here. The organization had given out $68,000 through April – more than half of last year’s total ($116,000).

Dixon helped establish the local organization in 1981. Now all the TV stations have a relationship with CrimeStoppers.


Will someone tell Jay Leno there is no “g” in Collinsworth? Leno mispronounced Cris Collinsworth’s name 3-4 times when the former Bengal and WLW-AM sports talk host was on "The Tonight Show" Friday night. Collinsworth was promoting Sunday night NFL telecasts this fall on NBC. He's part of the 7 p.m. pregame "Football Night in America" with Bob Costas, former NFL stars Jerome Bettis and Sterling Sharpe, sidelines reporter Andrea Kremer and Peter King, the "Sports Illustrated" NFL writer (and former Cincinnati Enquirer sportswriter). The show premieres Thursday, Sept. 7.

SNL news

The big news from Leno’s show Friday was Tina Fey announcing she’s leaving "Saturday Night Live." I’ll miss Tina Fey’s wicked sense of humor on “Weekend Update.” No matter how tired I was, I always tried to stay up and see who she’d rip with a smile. Ever since NBC announced that Fey would star in “30 Rock,” a fall sitcom about a "SNL"-style show (as they say in the TV biz, “write what you know”), I figured she was history at "SNL." I think the show has had a creative renaissance under Fey, who has worked on "SNL" nine years, including six as head writer. Without Fey, they’ll have to come up with another "Weekend Update" anchor team. Jimmy Fallon left a year ago; Fey was paired with Amy Poehler last fall. I'll miss Tina Fey.

And if you love Darrell Hammond’s hilarious impersonations on "SNL," catch him at Grand Victoria Casino Saturday, Aug. 5, t 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 for nonmembers at

Grey’s Anatomy to Lifetime

"Grey’s Anatomy" reruns have been picked up by Lifetime. Weekly episodes start next January, with weekday reruns not available until fall 2009.Big Brother update

Big Brother update

If you didn't watch Sunday, Diane Henry of Northern Kentucky will survive another week on CBS' "Big Brothers All Stars." After escaping last week's dismissal vote (8-2), she wasn't put on the chopping block again this week. The show airs 8 p.m. today (Chs 12, 7), and again 8 p.m. Thursday for the voting results.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm Back

So what did I miss while I was gone on vacation? From reading the postings on my blog, sounded like not much – except for catty comments and sniping from Anonymous folks…
I’m still trying to get caught up to everything, but here are some quick hits:

--The hype machine fires up today for Cris Collinsworth, and for NBC’s Sunday night NFL games this fall. He’s on "The Tonight Show" tonight, and Ch 5’s Ken Broo soon will be taping promos with him. You might see a lot of Collinsworth on Ch 5 this fall, since he’ll do satellite interviews with NBC stations from Ch 5 throughout the season.

--NBC’s "Deal or No Deal" holds an open casting call 9-5 Saturday in Lexington, at Freedom Dodge, 1560 East New Circle Road. A spokesman for host NBC affiliate WLEX-TV (Channel 18) told me that anyone in line by 1 p.m. will be allowed to interview. Theyr'e expecting big crowds.
No reservations required. For information, go

--No surprise that WVMX-FM (MIX94.1) is picking up the Whoopi Goldberg morning show from parent Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks. I figured all along they’d pick up Whoopi, even when station managers said they weren’t interested in May when the show was announced. The station has to do something to get some traction.

--On the other hand, I was surprised that WCVG-AM (1320) – a weak AM daytime station – would sell for $1.9 million, to become the area’s first Latino station. As usual, Cincinnati is behind the times. Louisville has had three Latino stations for several years – two of them are FMs, and one is owned by Clear Channel. Indianapolis and Lexington also already have full-time Hispanic stations.

NBC fall previews

NBC has cut a deal with Netflix so subscribers can see advance copies of two new fall series, Aaron Sorkin’s "Studio 50 on the Sunset Strip" (a behind-the-scenes drama at a "SNL"-like show -- or "SportsNight?" show -- with Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford) and "Kidnapped" (with Dana Delany, Jeremy Sisto and Mykelti Williamson). NBC, which was 4th last year in prime-time, will let Netflix customers rent DVDs of the debut episodes starting Aug. 5, about seven weeks before the fall TV season officially starts.

Studio 89 reminder
If you want to see Danny Tate's "Studio 89" concert at WNKU-FM on the Northern Kentucky University campus 9 p.m. Monday, better make a reservation soon at or by calling 859-572-6500. Tate wrote Rick Springfield's "Affair of the Heart," and songs recorded by Tim McGraw, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patti LaBelle, Lynryd Skinner, Jeff Healey, the Oak Ridge Boys and others. Or you can catch the concert live Monday on WNKU-FM (89.7) and live on the web.

Gotta go. Keep the comments coming.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Away from the TV

I'm sneaking out for a week of vacation. If I see something worth commenting on, I'll post a blog -- but I don't plan on it. In fact, don't plan on watching much TV. Gonna be watching the highway driving on our family vacation, or watching the ocean at the beach.
Emmy nominations come out tomorrow (7/6), but most of the folks I think are deserving probably won't get nominated. Anything for "Earl," "West Wing," "Everybody Hates Chris," "Lost," "Scrubs" or "Boston Legal?" Probably not much...
Check back periodically, and catch me for sure on the 17th.

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