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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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Thursday, September 14, 2006

WIZ Eats The Competition

Big news in the radio world today: Instead of starting up a new R&B adult contemporary station from scratch next week to compete with MOJO, the WIZF-FM (WIZ 101.1) has bought the rival-to-be.
Radio One, operators of THE WIZ and WDBZ-AM (BUZZ 1230), paid $5 million cash today for the intellectual property – the call letters and format, basically everything but the frequency – to use on the new 100.3 FM station launching next Thursday.
Earlier this year, Radio One – the largest radio company primarily targeting African-Americans -- paid $18 million for WIFE-FM (100.3) in Connersville, Ind., and move it to Cincinnati. Talks began two weeks ago with Susquehanna Radio, owners of WMOJ-FM, WRRM-FM (WARM98) and WYGY-FM (STAR 96.5), about buying the MOJO branding.
"Jammin’ oldies" listeners for the past 7-1/2 years are in for some big changes next week, as the station appeals to African-American women. The "rhythm and blues and classic soul" station will play lots of Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton and Alicia Keys, and a lot less Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Bee Gees.
The deal allows Radio One to interview MOJO’s current full-time and part-time DJs. But the Keith Mitchell-Laura Powell morning show won’t continue. The new MOJO has plans for another morning show, says Lisa Thal, VP and GM. Don’t be surprised if they move syndicated Tom Joyner from the BUZZ to MOJO. Radio One’s similar urban adult contemporary in Dayton, WRNB-FM (92.1), has Joyner in the morning.
And here's an odd, historic twist to this story: The station at 94.9 was involved in an intellectual property sale once before. In 1995, it sold rights to "WOFX-FM, The Fox" to Jacor/Clear Channel, which moved it to 92.5 to replace "WPPT-FM, The Point." Then 94.9 went Smooth Jazz as "WVAE-FM, The Wave" until switching to MOJO in 1999.

What's next?
So what will be heard on 94.9 next Thursday? My guess is they’ll move the country STAR 96.5 to 94.9, which has a stronger signal in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Then what will they put on 96.5? What formats could they try? (Just guessing again, but it probably won't be Smooth Jazz.)

Another question: Did folks at oldies WGRR-FM (103.5) celebrate this news Thursday? It could be a big winner in the move. The current MOJO audience is about 36% African-American. When the new MOJO targets the African-American audience, will some of the old MOJO audience switch to GRR oldies? Will GRR music get a little bit more jammin’? Other markets have dumped the oldies format, but with part of the old MOJO audience up for grabs, this might sustain GRR for a good while.

Calls of the Wild

Last question: Remember when 94.9 was Lite95 in Fairfield, and 96.5 in Hamilton was named WYGY-FM for Young Country in 1992? Before that 96.5 was also known as the River (WZRZ), the country Beaver (WBVE) and disco WSKS-FM -- known by some in the radio biz as Radio Sucks -- or Hamilton's old WQMS-FM.


at 9/15/2006 12:10 AM Anonymous John Hingsbergen said...

I remember all the way back to the late '60s when WQMS was "The Quality Music Station," an automated "Beautiful Music" format out of the garage of the McNally family on the west side of Hamilton.

Later, WQMS became a Christian station operated from the transmitter building beneath the tower at the top of the New London Road hill. Among the staff at that time were: General Manager Dick Grant, Program Director Tom Smithers (the area's biggest Judy Garland fan) and Office Manager/Traffic Manager Joyce Leopold.

I was among the part-time DJ staff including, John Vaughn and Phil Bullio. Some of the other names of staffers escape me.

at 9/15/2006 1:22 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember AC Stereo 96, Top 40 Kiss 96, AC Kiss 96, and 96 Rock. I don't recall disco anywhere but 103.5 WOKV.

We also had a couple of years of Zrock between The Beaver & The River.

Moving The Star to the Star tower would be great if it could possibly mean the return of 96Rock! Give me 96Rock & the return of Young Country on an HD-2 channel, and I'll retire my XM.

at 9/15/2006 7:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Cumulus buy Mojo a few months ago?

at 9/15/2006 7:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't there also a phase of WLWS, as in sister, at 96.5? And who among us could forget Yes 95 at 94.9?

at 9/15/2006 7:25 AM Anonymous Dave in Atlanta said...

I think Cumulus bought all of the Susquehanna properties.

Finally, some radio happenings in Cincinnati. Y-96 (WYGY) was a great station.

at 9/15/2006 7:55 AM Blogger BrianDammit said...

I was going to say something about WWEZ but I got sleepy all of a sudden.

at 9/15/2006 9:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

at 9/15/2006 12:26 AM Anonymous said...

Never did see that promo that was promised a couple months back touting how Jim O'Brien was the be-all end-all of weathermen in Cincinnati. When can we expect that???

at 9/15/2006 8:40 AM Anonymous said...

I would expect that promo once O'Brien is able to pull more than a 1 or 2 rating at 11:15 p.m.

Wow, you talking about EMBARRASSING! Whew!

at 9/15/2006 8:51 AM Anonymous said...

...and talk about job INsecurity!

Hope that guy is sprucing up his tape (along with his boss).

But a kind suggestion: on his resume, he may want to leave off descriptions like "undisputed" and "most trusted" 'cause when a potential future employer does a background check on his REAL story, he'll be laughed out of the interview.

at 9/15/2006 8:57 AM Anonymous said...

Here's a funny one...

Did anybody hear O'Brien tell Bill Cunningham the other day (believe it was Monday) how there was "no way" the Reds game would start on time...and likely wouldn't even be played because of rain???

Not only did the game start ON TIME, it was played in its entirety without interruption!


at 9/15/2006 9:04 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad about Keith Mitchell and Laura Powell...they seemed like genuinely nice folks who did a very good morning show. I hope they land on their feet around here.

at 9/15/2006 9:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone know if cincinnati has an oldies station? i just moved back into town and i remember it was 103.5, but they seem to play classic rock now. can anyone help? thanks!

at 9/15/2006 10:55 AM Blogger BMurdock said...

Man everyone beat me to references to Kiss96, Yes95, 96 Rock and ZRock. I completely forgot about WWEZ makes me tired thinking about it too...

I used to get excited about these types of changes but terrestrial radio is so boring now. Maybe something good will come of this but I'm not holding my breath...For what it's worth I'll second the call for a return of 96 Rock!

As for the Jim O'Brian references... Since the topic was FM radio not TV weather I got a little thrown off track and thought we were talking about Chris O'Brian. Wonder what ever happened to that guy?

at 9/15/2006 11:14 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I would expect that promo once O'Brien is able to pull more than a 1 or 2 rating at 11:15 p.m."

Hey when it comes to severe weather o'brien is the undisputed weather king. His forecasts are the most accurate.
The other day obrien pulled a 4 rating at 11pm.

at 9/15/2006 11:16 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

did anyone notice that the best of channel 5s reporters are on from 5-6:30pm? i wonder if anyone at channel 5 knows that their reporters at 11pm are a "B-team" at best. i've made the switch to 9 news at 11 since the 11pm show on ch. 5 is sooooooooo bad!

at 9/15/2006 11:20 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah thats true. From 5-630 5 does have the best reporters in the tri state. I mean who can argue with hopkins, london, fuller, sussi, johnson, longnecker, and even dave wagner at the 5pm news.

at 9/15/2006 11:23 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think derek beasley should be the chief at 5 not o'brien. Beasley is the most qualified meterologist in the tristate.

at 9/15/2006 11:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey folks heres a scoop from the news5 newsroom. The weather men are switching spots for a week during sweeps. obrien is going to be working mornings and noon and derek is going to be working 5-630 and 11pm news.

at 9/15/2006 11:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - i get it. Because the ch5 staff is not busy during the day, they choose this forum to rag on each other and the competition non-stop. It's annoying that talk always turns to channel 5 regardless of the topic of the day's post. Boring...boring...boring. Please news dweebs, go do some work or get new jobs - the constant complaining is quite boorish.

at 9/15/2006 11:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's rename Kiese's blog:
"Eyewitness Bitching Live from News 5"

at 9/15/2006 1:11 PM Blogger BrianDammit said...

...seriously. What's the fascination with Channel 5? Don't like it, don't watch it.

Like BMurdock says, terrestrial radio is dullsville. Talk radio, sports talk or music -- and that's about it. Thankfully, we've got a nice set of public radio stations. Otherwise, I'd have no reason to switch on the radio.

at 9/16/2006 11:16 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WWEZ was at 92.5, code named weazy. I remember an on air voice by the name of Gig Henderson. I think he later became Hutch in the Morning at 95 W-Lite.

at 9/16/2006 11:16 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOKV...wasn't Pat Barry the PD?

at 9/17/2006 3:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gig Henderson was at WWEZ when Kenny Rogers "Through The Years" was on the charts. (needed a copy for tv, pre-napster era!)

at 9/17/2006 9:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emily Longnecker.... I would listen/watch her recite the alphabet.

at 9/17/2006 9:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Channel 5 lost an A+ reporter like Juliet Vara, Emily has stepped up, good job Emily.

at 9/20/2006 10:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

here we go again about juliette vara was hardly an A+ reporter. maybe a B+ or A- ms. longnecker is surely better than ms. vara on any day.

at 9/20/2006 11:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

ugh. Bring back Mitzi Oxford.

at 9/21/2006 10:09 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

or debra silberstein...remember her? co-anchored with rob braun...and i think ken broo was the sports guy then at ch. 12

at 9/26/2006 12:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

remember Todd Hunter from channel 9?

at 9/26/2006 8:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 9/26/2006 10:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring back Bender & Fingers!

at 9/26/2006 11:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above listener! Keith and Laura were the best morning show hosts in the city! Some station needs to pick them up!

at 9/27/2006 9:13 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring Keith and Laura back!!!!! Mojo was such a great station. It was a station that played all that funky music, that appealed to the white and black communities. It made you want to dance. It brought back memories of the 70's. What a shame!!!!!!

at 9/28/2006 12:44 PM Anonymous Go said...

It's great to continue to grow our diversity in radio stations in Cincinnati. When I travel to different cities....there seems to be more of a variety to choose from. I'm 33yo SF and immensely enjoyed MOJO's music and most definitely, Keith and Laura in the morning. Great variety and funny to boot. It was nice to have a morning show actually taking place in Cincinnati and not coming from NY or LA. I hope another station takes these 2 on as their morning show here in Cincinnati. I miss them. They always made my morning drive so much nicer!
BTW, WIZF is the other station I listen to the most.....I've started listening to 107.1 more now as a personal protest for Radio One bullying over MOJO. They should've kept the call letters of WIFE.........afterall, they are trying to cater to the WIFEY with the new 100.3.(IMHO, mathmatically is it going to be effective in eliminating a station that catered to most every race in this city ages 25-60 and converting it to a station that only caters to 25-55 yo African-American women?) This doesn't add up. I hope I am proven wrong.

at 9/28/2006 10:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Go. Keith & Laura were the best and if they show up in the area - I'm there! such chemistry!! The other morning shows can't compare.

at 9/29/2006 7:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My whole family chanted just this morning..."we want Keith", "we want Laura"! We have been waking up to the MOJO for years. We are turning the MOJO off because it isn't the MOJO without them... morning, afternoon or evening.

at 9/30/2006 9:26 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Laura and Keith. Laura's humor was infectious.

at 10/10/2006 11:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has any radio station hired KEITH and LAURA yet?????

at 10/12/2006 1:35 PM Anonymous mojo listener no more said...

I agree Keith and Laura had the best morning show in Cinci market. No other station I know of provided a forum for live music, a psychic and the mayor, not to mention the music and their great personalities. They are sorely missed! I've gone back to playing CD's in my car for morning drive.

at 10/14/2006 1:11 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, everyone seems to miss Keith
& Laura {MOJO 94.9}. Why won't
anyone speak up & tell us where they are working now or what's going on. Is it some secret or
the new owners are afraid we will
listen to them on another station.
Well, you're right about that.
Keith or Laura, if you see this
message-- You Guys were & are the
best thing MOJO ever had or will
ever have! It would be interesting
to know if rating have fallen.

at 10/14/2006 10:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I REALLY miss the Laura Powell and Keith Mitchell morning show each morning as I drive to my teaching job. After my heart attack, (when I was 45 years old---6 years ago)death of both parents on both sides of my family within 5 years, the morning show was so fun and entertaining that I found myself arriving at school totally tickeled and in the best mood for the entire day. The morning show really let me take my mind off of my problems and focus on some wacky funny material instead. I looked forward to the show every day.
I've heard if a person laughs hard at least one time a day, it really improves a person's health. PLEASE bring these two wonderful and hillarious radio people back on the air. We all need Laura Powell and Keith Mitchell's morning show back. If you are not going to have them back please lets us know where we can hear them.
A very sad and disappointed Laura Powell and Keith Mitchell fan

at 10/14/2006 10:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that our rights, as an American, were stripped when the Laura Powell and Keith Mitchell morning show on MOJO 94.9 was dropped.
I would listen to ANY station just to hear them on their morning show.
Would some radio station in the Cincinati listening area PLEASE hire these two phenomenial, super-heroic individuals and let them do what they know how to do best-------start our day!!!!!!!!!!!

at 10/16/2006 10:37 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the new owners are happy with their decision because most of the listening public is disgusted. Laura Powell and Keith Mitchell gave me just the boost I needed every morning as I drove to work. I will not continue listening to this "new" station. If I want to hear music alone, I'll play my CD's. I enjoyed the lively, humorous airplay that Laura & Keith provided. And, how about the afternoon show with the Luna-man? He was great entertainment for the way home - a great stress relief from the traffic and good music, too. Get it? A balance, a blend! You folks with the "new" idea - good luck, you've lost a lot of listeners. And, remember, whoever made these decisions - your job probably won't be considered too necessary by somebody in the future, so enjoy your glory now - paybacks are ....... (P.S. Where are our favorite DJ's? Are you afraid that we might tune them in if you tell?) LISTEN TO WNKU - THEY HAVE ALL THE VARIETY AND LOCAL TALENT WE NEED - TOO BAD THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO HIRE KEITH & LAURA!

at 11/02/2006 12:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another typical decision made from the big shots failing once again to ask the people who really count and CARE...US LISTENERS!!!! This decision should have been made by the people, not by the money hungry folks to far up to really know what's goin' on...and what's wrong with a little Marvin Gaye anyhow???

Laura & Keith, not to mention the are the best and I hope you return someway, somehow & sometime soon!!! You are very missed!!!

at 11/07/2006 3:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for an alternative to Keith and Laura in the A.M. - I drive from north of I-70 to Butler Co. every a.m. and they kept me going! Can't pick up WNKU, but do get lots of other junk (country, rap, religious formats) Back to CD's for the most part for me, but I'll keep scanning the dial on occasion to see if any other station has picked up on this aging demographic who still appreciates talented, professional talent with a good base of music/entertainment.I have noticed since the demise of Mojo94.9 that most of the local stations have added a "funky" song or two to their playlist. Sorry, that's not enough.

at 11/09/2006 3:07 PM Anonymous Sick of crappy radio said...

Now we're cursed with the likes of "Mad Cow" guy, "Rover's Morning Glory" and more juvenile, sexist stuff not too far removed from "Bob and Tom". Do radio programmers/station owners believe that any women or men with brains are actually listening to this crap? Their choice, but many are missing the boat by not trying to appeal to the many smart, middle-aged professional men and women with disposable incomes who own radios.

at 12/26/2006 2:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame that Keith and Laura's morning show was tossed aside with such disregard for their listeners. I was so angry about the change - it felt like a family member had died.

I agree with the postings above - my weekdays always started with laughter as I listened to their morning show. Not anymore.

One glimmer of hope: I was listening to WGRR this afternoon, and there was Keith Mitchell filling in on the afternoon show! He is apparently doing programming there now.

Still no sign of Laura...

at 2/26/2007 1:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news! I heard Laura Powell this morning on Q102 (filling in for Jeff and Jen), and there was talk of her joining the staff in the afternoon. Nothing official on their web site though.

at 2/26/2007 2:02 PM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

I just posted new item about Laura Powell teaming with Brian Douglas starting Tuesday afternoon. They were supposed to start this afternoon, but we called in to do mornings together today when Jeff & Jenn got sick. So I've started a new string for comments.

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