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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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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kopp Out

And here’s the big story you WON'T hear anyone talking about on the Big One, as they say on WLW-AM: Craig Kopp, the lone local liberal voice on the Clear Channel stations here, is off the air for the first time in 30 years. When WKRC-AM morning partner Jerry Thomas retires at the end of the year, Jerry's kid Brian Thomas and John Phillips will take over the morning show.
Why dump Kopp? Nobody will say. His left-right banter with Thomas was very lively and entertaining. With Brian Thomas and John Phillips, I'm afraid we’ll hear two fiscal conservatives agreeing all the time.
More burning questions: Why dump the liberal voice – and the entire liberal talk format from WSAI-AM (1360) – after Democrats just won control of the Hamilton County commission, Ohio governor's office and Congress? Why dump 20 experienced radio people, and then a week later hire an attorney without full-time radio experience for the WKRC-AM morning show?
Kopp says he was told the decision was based on "revenue, not ratings." Guess that means Clear Channel figures that continuing the Thomas name on WKRC will bring in more bucks than keeping Kopp.
As for Craig, he’s not sure what he’s going to do. He just married in October, and bought a house in Goshen. Clear Channel offered him an off-air Web content job at much less pay. "I'm looking at that, and some other things," he says.
The radio biz sure has changed since Kopp came to WEBN-FM in 1976, at age 24, two years out of Bowling Green State University. "I got interested in radio when it was an emotional thing, when progressive rock radio was a calling. Now I’ve got to look at everything as a business deal," he says.
So with Kopp off the air, are Jay Gilbert and Wildman Walker the only remaining voices on the airwaves from WEBN's early years? As WEBN prepares to celebrate its 40th birthday next year, help me recall some of the voices from WEBN's past: Curt Gary, Michael Luczak, Bo Wood, Mark Scherer, Rick Bird...

News about the other Springer
Another Clear Channel personnel note: No, Scott Springer was not among the 19 fired on Nov. 29. The WLW-AM morning sports guy has been off the air since Thanksgiving due to a weird voice problem that may take another month or so to heal. I'll post more information after we hook to talk about it.

Chris & Rob Christmas
Chris Comer and Rob Ervin's annual "Chris & Rob Show" holiday special at 10 p.m. today on WAIF-FM (88.3) features the best of their interviews with Billy Bob Thornton, Tim Conway, Bootsy Collins and others. You can also hear it on


at 12/19/2006 9:25 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad news involving another longtime local voice. How many of them can you name, not only from 'EBN, but also from the other CC stations, who were sent to an early "retirement" for monetary reasons.

Kopp, after all those years, was making more money than CC was going to pay for one of their "throw-away" stations. Then, CC insults him by offering a job writing internet content for $9.00 an hour.

Good luck Craig, but get out of CC. You'll find a whole other world waiting out there.

at 12/19/2006 9:34 AM Blogger utech said...

I feared that this was coming and it really pisses me off. Kopp has been awesome and has grown into his role over the last 11 years that I have been listening to the KRC morning show. I was even looking forward to Craig's conversion as he tends to lean more conservative during the month of Feb when Jerry was on his month long vacation in Florida. I really don't care to listen to John Phillips he was great as a traffic guy and I loved his snarky comments but not for a whole show. I guess KRC just wants to go with the "Me too" morning show. So as far as AM commute radio goes I am out. I will be sticking with the iPod.

at 12/19/2006 9:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has Bruce Still retired and does another former WCKY staffer Hugh Lutton still work at CC.

at 12/19/2006 9:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prediction Dept:
The Thomas/Phillips pairing will last only until CC can find some other syndicated show that they can plug-in for a free barter deal.

That way, 55KRC operates without any (non-advertising)local content and just enough overhead to pay the minimum wage board operators.

Then Jerry's kid goes back to being an attorney (another honorable field) and Phillips gets his "monetary retirement".

at 12/19/2006 11:05 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really, really enjoyed the banter between Thomas and Kopp. There is absolutely no reason to dump Kopp just because Jerry Thomas is retiring. And I'm a conservative who doesn't often agree with Kopp. But I will miss Kopp greatly for his opposing insights and sense of humor. And his movie reviews.

Those two (actually three, as I begain listening when Robin Wood was part of the morning show) diverted me from years of listening to NPR's "Morning Edition." Nothing against Phillips and the younger Thomas, but I'm just not interested. Guess it's back to 91.7, WVXU, for more NPR programming.

So much WKRC programming I've enjoyed over the years just vanishes without warning: Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura, and now Dave Ramsey and Jim Kramer. Kopp's ousting is the final straw for this listener.

I'm wondering how many other listeners will just turn off 550KRC completely now. If the listeners dwindle, how much are all those lucrative advertiser endorsements really worth?

at 12/19/2006 11:49 AM Blogger Not Todd said...

The people who voted Democrat who weren't listening to WSAI before the election weren't going to suddenly start listening to it just because they won. Ratings are ratings, and WSAI just wasn't cutting it as an Air America affiliate.

at 12/19/2006 12:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Bruce Still has retired.

Hugh Lutton does some work for CC's national contesting group and for their digital music programmers.

at 12/19/2006 12:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is a golden time for Supertalk 96.5 to strike, it's now!

Look at the possibilities:

A news department headed by an AP award winning newsman (Craig Kopp)

Bring Mike Redden out of retirement or wherever for traffic reports

Hire Andy Furman and/or Bob Trumpy for Sportstalk

Maybe bring some others out of retirement, like Alan Browning

It's time to nail CC at their own game.

Where's Randy and Bo when you need them????

at 12/19/2006 1:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kopp could not carry the show by himself. He could never make a stand and stick with it! Thomas will do well, I don't about Phillips.

at 12/19/2006 1:27 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:05...Glenn Beck and Dave Ramsey are on 96.5 everyday now

at 12/19/2006 1:45 PM Anonymous zuleika dobson said...

i listen to glenn beck on 610 out of columbus--and even prefer their morning people now to the new thomas/phillips combination.

jim cramer wasn't cancelled--he voluntarily canned his own program, but didn't make a lot of comments about it that last week. too bad, i thought he was entertaining and learned some interesting tidbits from him.

at 12/19/2006 2:52 PM Anonymous Tom Sandman said...

What? another P.O.'d commercial radio listener returning to NPR? No surprise. When the station is non-profit, the listener (not the dollar) comes first. As for you, Craig, you deserved a better fate. Your WKRC work is especially noteworthy after your exceptional tenure as a WEBN News Brother. We still remember "The Year In Your Ear" and other award-winning work. Good Luck, 'Bro. And as for the other Golden Names of 'EBN:

Denton Marr (currently Director of Development, Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, KY
Robin Wood (Robin Wood Flowers)Glenn Gaskins (two N's)
Mark Sheerer (three E's)
Dave Howe
Ty Williams
Peter Bright
Thom McGreevey (only EBN grad to teach kids how to do mantras on The Uncle Al Show)
Tom Kennedy
Tom Knox
Jim Tudor
Jimmy The Weasel
RD Steele (producer & major voice talent in Philadelphia)
George Gregory (AKA Frank Wood Sr.)
Geoff Nimmo (his dad Bill Nimmo, age 89, still does 2 shows a week on WMKV)
Ginger Sutton (just ran & lost for US Congress from Georgia's 6th district)
Mary Peale (currently host of the "Jelly Pudding" show on WOFX)
Brian O'Donnell (now WNKU & WGUC)
Frank Johnson (ditto, WGUC)
Tony Tolliver (PD, WOFX)
Michael Luczak (just left as PD of sports talk of WKNR Cleveland)
Curt Gary (an event planner in DC, inventor, "Hamster on a Stick(R)") Michael Xanadu (what ever happened to him, anyway?)
...and who could forget, MILES DUFFY? (now, HE was a programming genius!)

Hang in there JG and Wildman! We're rooting for you.


at 12/19/2006 3:31 PM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

Thanks, Tom. And these names came from Joe Richard in Covington:

You asked to help you remember other WEBN staffers for the 40th
rather than putting it on the blog, I decided to email you.

Thom McGreevey, left in 1969, also was Mr. patches on Uncle Al in the
Ty Williams, an original WEBN staffer
Wes Owen
Peter Bright
Tom Knox
Tom Sandman
Geoff Nimmo 1971-1976
Chris Gray 1971-1974
Denton Marr, aka Denton Randall on WHAS Louisville
Dave Howe 1971-1973
Don Goldberg 1973
The Fat Man, Ernie Brown
Mary Peale, curently on the FOX
Ed Prijatel, known as Ted McAllister on most other stations 1972-73
Hugh Lutton 1972
Tom Kennedy
Glen Gaskins
Ginger Sutton
Brian O'Donnell
Dick Findlay 1973
Russ Miims 1971
These are most of the names I remember from the early days and into the
quite frankly, I no longer listen to the WEBN of today

Joe Richard

at 12/19/2006 4:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in Cincinnati, would Craig Kobb be called a liberal. At best he was a Joe Lieberman moderate. Always apologetic for taking non right wing views.

at 12/19/2006 5:46 PM Blogger Rick said...

Well, not to go against the grain, but I like Brian Thomas and John Phillips. They are "everymen" and I think they are great... Give them a chance. When Jerry and Craig first started, I absolutely despised the show, but it grew on me...

at 12/19/2006 6:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an afternoon drivetime show with Craig and a conservative? Add live newscasts and traffic reports and my guess, it would generate the revenue/ad sales needed.

It's funny, when KRC needs promotion, it doesn't happen. No budget. Only will happen on WLW, when you get the $ynergie$ of $250,000 from WLW-T.

I liked the idea, if WLW can make a deal with WLWT, why not 55KRC make the same promotion deal with WCPO?

Too much logic.

Radio was funner when boneheads weren't running it. I miss Randy, Bo, WCKY newstalk and Heftel dumpster dives.

at 12/19/2006 11:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still contend that Purple is the best color.

at 12/19/2006 11:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, if you wish, I can try to spell something difficult.

at 12/19/2006 11:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, I mean it.

at 12/19/2006 11:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can say anything here, can't you?

at 12/19/2006 11:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Jay Gilbert write the jingle for Montgomery Cyclery?

at 12/19/2006 11:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 12/19/2006 11:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any replies welcome.

at 12/19/2006 11:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truckers are also welcome.

at 12/19/2006 11:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Barney the Dinosaur still a factor?

at 12/19/2006 11:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is purple, at least.

at 12/19/2006 11:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 12/20/2006 9:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Jim Scott have picture of CC brass or something. How this guys survives is beyond me. He should go to nights so I can turn him on and get to sleep faster.

at 12/20/2006 12:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count me out as a listener to the new 55KRC morning show. Brian Thomas is just plain boring and I never liked John Phillips. I'm finished with AM morning radio. It's turned into the cure for insomnia, only on at the wrong time! Craig Kopp should have been kept on. While I don't agree with him politically, he's a good host. Maybe 96.5 can find a place for him.

at 12/20/2006 12:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Craig Kopp still going to do his movie reviews?

Also, did 9 News really include a fatal fire as a "hot click" for its website on its noon newscast yesterday? That's tacky.

at 12/20/2006 1:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think 55 WKRC should run old shows of Stan Matlock.

Better yet..How about the best of Dave Lee? Was there such a thing?

What about Stu Williams? He had a great show once...

at 12/20/2006 2:17 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any word on who the new DJ's for 94.9 are going to be?

at 12/20/2006 3:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony "Big Dog" Bender is a great American.

at 12/20/2006 11:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching Fox19's weathercasts tonight made me all tingley.

at 12/21/2006 11:23 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an new name for Jim Scott.... Scrooge. Very early this morning when the news was reporting on the baby who accidentially went through the X-ray scanner, with no ill effects he said that some should get the grandmother a stupid grandma shirt for Christmas.....Like she wasnt upset enough already!

at 12/21/2006 1:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody catch Dave Frazier on channel 12 last night?

at 12/21/2006 4:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Fraiser - say it ain't so!

at 12/21/2006 5:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhhhhh KWGN-CW affiliate, thus the tie-in. Denver and Cincinnati connections help too.

at 12/21/2006 10:45 PM Anonymous 90sAndNow said...

WEBN staffers I remember (I'm 31 so don't remember the original members).

Cousin Deeke(think he tracks weekends now)
Bubba The Love Sponge
Wendy (one of the recently departed)
Penis John
The Dude
Bob Garret
Mojo Nixon
Spamboy (overnights)

at 12/22/2006 9:47 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add Dennis Runyon to the list of former WEBNers. Wasn't he the first blind employee?

at 12/22/2006 4:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turtles are very cool creatures. I might like to have one as a pet.

at 12/22/2006 7:17 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does this leave Randy Furman? How are the ratings for 1710am?

at 12/22/2006 7:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 12/22/2006 11:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Burbank is playing "The Christmas Elf" at Playhouse in the Park. Nice job too.

at 12/24/2006 5:07 PM Anonymous Cpt Smiley said...

Thank you Tom Sandman for the trip down memory lane!

I recently uncovered an old picture of Craig from a visit he made to the White House waaaayy back in the day. I've been trying to send it to him with no luck.

at 12/26/2006 12:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This talk about Craig Kopp being an articulate, liberal counterweight to the seasoned conservative is preposterous.

He was one reason most of his audience thought all liberals are light weights. As far as I can tell, he was never prepared or Jerry never told him what the topic of the day was. i would like a dollar for every time Craig said "I don't know." he never had a prepared position and let Jerry abuse him daily.

at 12/26/2006 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i list

at 12/26/2006 1:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened to the Jerry Thomas retirement lovefest for two weeks. I hope no one broke an arm patting himself on the back.

I had no idea sanctimony and false infallibility were inherited traits.

at 12/27/2006 12:09 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

Before Wendy Walker there was another female on WEBN back in the late 80's - Cat something?

Anyone? Anyone?

at 12/27/2006 1:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cat Thomas. She does quite a bit of voice work for channel 12.

at 12/27/2006 2:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

further to the Jerry Thomas lovefest.

i listened this morning and JT couldn't persuade his son without the last word and, in effect asking "Who's your Daddy?"

The only upside to his son is he might understand that there is at least one other side to every question.

Even Jean Schmidt's district split 50.1/49.9.

at 12/27/2006 4:50 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

Didn't know "Cat" was still in the area. I got the pleasure of seeing her doing a remote at The Beach lets just say a few years ago. She looked pretty good back in the day...

at 12/28/2006 7:52 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 12/29/2006 3:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've known Brian Thomas personally for about 8 years. While I may not always agree with his viewpoints, he is nevertheless a very compelling speaker, and always interesting to talk to. I really don't know how a paring with him and John Phillips will work out; but given the opportunity and enough leeway from 55KRC, I think Brian Thomas has the potential to make a name for himself in his own right.

at 12/30/2006 11:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

like others, count me as a former KRC listener. Nothing against Brian Thomas and John Phillips, but "not interested"

I agree, as soon as CC finds some suitable syndicated morning show, the new morning team of BT-JP is gone.


at 12/31/2006 11:58 AM Blogger Rick said...

I think they'll do fine... I remember the early days of Jerry and Craig--it was PAINFUL to listen to, and then they caught their groove...
Brian and John will be painful at first too, but I plan on hanging on to be there when they smooth out. I like both of them. I think John Phillips adds such an element of "Everyman" to the show, it will be very easy for us to identify with the hosts...

at 1/01/2007 8:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It must be WHO you know and not about talent. Daddy's boy got the job because of who he knows and NOT because of talent! Phillips needs to go back to traffic. Craig - I wish you the best. This station stabbed you in the back and Jerry threw you to the wolfs. Baby boy Thomas will fail and you will land a better job! Good Luck!

at 1/02/2007 2:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I finally have broke down and purchased satillite radio.Goodbye KRC

at 1/02/2007 3:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classless what they did to Craig. Never really agreed with him too much, but he got screwed. Wish he would have received the send off Jerry did. Did Jerry ok this? What would be wrong with Jerry's kid and Craig. John Phillips? Please!

at 1/03/2007 8:31 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently (classless) Clear Channel doesn't have a drug policy or John Phillips would have fired a long time ago, about the time his pilot buddy Mike Redden was busted for growing his own pot.

Craig was canned because he made too much money.

Jerry's kid and Puff the Magic Dragon will only be on long enough for CC to find a syndicated (free) show to plug into that slot. Then Little Jerry goes back to his law practice and Phillips goes to unemployment.

at 1/05/2007 5:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys have no idea what you are talking about. From a CC insider, Craig was not, I repeat NOT, dedicated to his job. He showed up at 4:50 for the 5AM show, and left at 9:05AM and it was evident. I'm surprised he lasted that long!!

at 1/05/2007 10:54 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the hours of show prep done away from the station doesn't count?

I can't tell you how many jocks barely make it in their booth before their shift starts.

Craig is a professional and will hopefully find a great job in this city.

at 1/06/2007 6:12 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show prep away from the station?? When between those award winning movie stand ups? Come on. It was obvious by how many time s he said "I don't Know".. Rick Bird needs to stop answering posts!!

at 1/08/2007 2:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened for a week and have heard enough.

The cute chuckle at your own "jokes" is also, apparently, an inherited trait.

the only places with more inbreeding are WV and KY.

unlike Craig, i do know.

at 1/10/2007 8:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commuted to work an hour + each way for over 20 years until recently taking a job closer to home. In the days before satelite radio, talk radio was the only sane alternative to music, which lulled me to sleep. My view lean more conservative, but I welcome many points of view, and they help me formulate a more balanced viewpoint. I only listen briefly to talk radio now that I am not in the car more, but when I heard that Jerry was leaving I was saddened. BUT, I never translated this meant Craig's demise as well. Media in all forms, must not underestimate the value of keeping good talent at any cost, within reason of course, if they want to keep their loyal listeners. Media executives are idiots if they think the listener or viewer loyalty is solely with the "brand idenity" of their show, NOT - it is the human connection that matters most! I guess when I am in the car on occasion for trips to meet clients I will listen to satelite talk radio now. The son is not the father, ie. Brian is not Jerry, however bright he may be and John Phillips has a friendly bantor of sorts, but not someone I think of as a great thinker or articulate enough to carry Craig's role. Good luck Craig your talent will open doors for you, and when it does, I will return as a listener!

at 2/04/2007 3:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am done with krc. Letting Kopp go as also let me go.

at 2/17/2007 7:39 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for Jim Scott,when is CC going to release this clown?
The only thing he's half way decent at is reading school closings! If you ever listen to him interview someone, he constantly interupts them.
He always tries to come across as this "goodie two-shoes" Please!

at 3/03/2007 7:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been living in south central Kentucky for nearly 3 years, and I have missed Jerry and Craig in the morning. Hallerin Hilton Hill on WNOX-FM (Knoxville) has provided some relief, but I am moving back to Cincinnati and I was really looking forward to more Jerry and Craig banter. Nothing lasts forever, except forever. I may have to re-think my return.

at 6/23/2007 1:07 AM Anonymous Patty S. said...

Hey, how could you forget the best Bruce fan ever...Jersey Gina Cook, early 80s. She sure was fun.

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