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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, February 27, 2007

Changes for WGRR?

WGRR-FM listeners should expect to hear some changes -- what kind?? -- from Karrie Sudbrack, the new station manager. Sudbrack, who had been market manager for Clear Channel's eight stations here, resigned Monday after 14 months to jump across town this morning to competitor Cumulus Inc., which operates WARM98, don't-call-us-Oldies WGRR-FM and SupertalkFM96.5 That's right, she's now Andy Furman's boss again.

Our online story says she will "use WARM98 as an anchor, and look to rebuild WGRR, although it will retain the oldies format."

So what does that mean? WGRR-FM listeners know that the station musically has been all over the map. When MOJO was sold by Cumulus to Radio One, WGRR began playing a ton of "jammin' oldies" to attract the old MOJO listeners. The music concentration also has shifted from the '60s -- except for the Beatles? -- to '70s classic rock. At least that's my take.

So what would you do to WGRR? What would you change? What do you keep? Does it really need fixing, or do you enjoy what they're doing now? You tell me.


at 2/27/2007 3:03 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like WGRR they way it is, with the current staff in place. I really enjoyed it a couple of Christmas's ago when they claimed to be Hamilton, Cincinnati, North Pole, USA and played the Christmas music.

at 2/27/2007 3:24 PM Blogger Brad said...

All Metal and Hard Rock, all the time. Give WEBN a run for their money, since they have lost their way.

at 2/27/2007 4:31 PM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

Wanted to share this email from Keith Mitchell of WGRR-FM:

Actually, CBS stopped using the "oldies" handle about two years ago, long before Cumulus had anything to do with it. Of course, perception is reality and some listeners still refer to us as the "oldies" station even though Buddy Holly, most Elvis, Leslie Gore and the rest packed their bags a long time ago.

As for the music, we are featuring more 70's songs, but still play a healthy amount of 60's material and not just from the Beatles. The Rolling Stones, Temptations, Aretha Franklin, CCR, The Who, The Doors, Smokey Robinson, Supremes, Monkees, Rascals, Simon & Garfunkel and Steppenwolf are all part of the what we play. You probably won't hear too much Lou Christie or Cyrkle any more, but we're not throwing out the great songs of the 60's.

Just had to throw my two cents in after reading your blog... Can't wait to see what others have to offer.

at 2/27/2007 5:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is WGRR still on the air. Haven't listened since WDJO signed on.

at 2/27/2007 7:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think WGRR needs to become what MOJO was. It was my favorite station, and many I talk to adored it as well. Keith, bring back the MOJO sound to WGRR!

at 2/27/2007 9:05 PM Anonymous Michael A. Banks said...

I say expand the playlist. There are too many songs that, as I like to put it, "the radio doesn't know." Playlists jam on one or two hits by a given artist, and ignore the rest. Why?

For example, WGRR, et al, play the hell out of "Long Cool Woman" and "Bus Stop" by the Hollies, but you never hear "Look Through Any Window" though it was a hit. Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" is everywhere, but not "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," another hit. Ditto Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," but what about "Monster," which will sound familiar to most listeners. (Of course the only song Steppenwolf every recorded is "Born to be Wild," if you believe classic/oldies rock playlists.)

Other examples of tunes that weren't big hits but which people will recognize even if they can't name them: Donovan's "Barabajagal" or Spirit's "I Got a Line on You," and even Paul Revere & the Raiders' "Just Like Me."

at 2/27/2007 10:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring back the oldies or go all 80s or all 90s. I'm 33 and don't like 90% of WGRR's current playlist. I like WDJO, but cant stand the hippie age music that WGRR now wants to play.

A station will never be successful if they don't meet the image the listeners have of the station, with WGRR unless they change calls and overhaul the image completely, it will always be thought of as Oldies 103.5.

at 2/27/2007 11:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for Karrie. It sounds like she left the sinking ship that is Clear Channel Cincinnati. Good luck and long live Oldies 103.5!

at 2/28/2007 2:17 AM Blogger JerBear said...

Oh man I really don't like the format at WGGR now. Is there no maket anymore for oldies from the 60s and 70s?

I live up near Dayton, and WGGR was the oldies station left in SW Ohio. Now they have started to play more 70s and I just sounds like a disco/classic rock/maybe 2 "oldies" an hour mix. I just don't like it.

I say go back to the real oldies! That would actually be unique in today's market. Although, I guess they know what people want to listen to more then I do!

at 2/28/2007 4:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey kiese I was wandering if you could also post the ratings for the simpsons at 11pm.

at 2/28/2007 7:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like the fact that the line between WGRR and the FOX has blurred so much. FOX has always been more Classic Hits than Classic Rock and now GRR sounds practically the same. Thank goodness for WDJO.

If FOX wants the Classic Hits arena so they don't compete with WEBN too much, maybe GRR should jump somewhere between FOX and EBN. A true Classic Rocker. Not necessarily hard like Sirius Buzzsaw, but something that goes deeper than just the hits and doesn't play so much Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot.

at 2/28/2007 11:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only is WGRR still on the air but doing well in the ratings (the same cannot be said about the pathetic showing of WDJO). Only desperate people would listen to music in muddy AM mono and a signal you can't get north of the river at night.

at 3/01/2007 8:48 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say have WGRR play what they are alot of "One Hit Wonders"( Have a Nice Day CD collection for example)and "Deep Cuts" off of the artists albums..

at 3/01/2007 12:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

since i am in radio i better do this anonymously... i miss the old WGRR.. maybe it's a matter of demographics... i just like the older songs. i have greatly appreciated the talented and knowledgeable airstaff- ron schmacher; jim labarbra; and remebering tom michaels; chris and janine and some great part timers... i expect cumulus to do with it what they have done to all their properties: drastically slash the budget so that management can keep their share of the pie. that means eliminating talented, dedicated announcers whose only fault seems to be that they earn a well deserved living wage for what they do. expect more automation, more homogonization, less local flavor... how sad...

at 3/01/2007 2:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another anonymous comment from another radio guy: I second that emotion about cumulus firing the talent so they can pay off their emormous debt. How else can they make the numbers work when they pay 1.2 billion for 33 radio stations? Too bad talented folks like Ted Morro & Tori Turner get cut while the managers get raises.
De-reg? It's all about the money and has nothing to do with serving the listener (or the advertiser). Let's reverse the deregulation, reinstitute the fairness doctrine, and give radio back to the people where it belongs. After all, they ARE public licenses. By the way, anybody see cumulus head Lewis Dickey get called out as a LIAR by Sen. John McCain in US Senate testimony? Check it out in the Dixie Chicks documentary, "Shut Up and Sing!"

at 3/05/2007 6:48 PM Blogger Rick said...

Randy Michaels started all of the consolidation and homogenization. He might be a genius in the earnings world, but he is the worst thing to ever happen to any local radio market...

at 3/28/2007 5:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John, - What can you tell us about Keith Mitchell taking afternoons at WGRR. Is this the end of our youthful, bearded Music Professor?

at 3/29/2007 9:48 PM Anonymous Trace The Ace said...

This same thing happened in Nashville, TN with a Cumulus station. First Oldies 96.3 WMAK became JACK-FM overnight. Within six days Cumulus' 97.1 picked up all the DJ's and format and became Oldies 97.1. It's now 10 months later and the 50's and pop 60's hits are gone. The "Oldies" airstaff has all been replaced, including local legend Coyote McCloud (Coyote Calhoun's "cousin") and the station is now known as Classic Hits 97.1. Coyote's long running morning show is now hosted by the nationally syndicated Bob And Tom, who play no music at all except for a few novelty songs. And with the shift in music direction, this Cumulus station closely resembles Clear Channel's WNRQ 105.9 The Rock. The radio I grew up listening to and wanting to be a part of is now long-gone. If you really love your Oldies, you'd better buy the CD's now because industry rumors say the CD's days are numbered, too.

at 4/09/2007 7:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's Jim LaBarbara?

at 4/10/2007 9:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happen to the Luna Man and Quincey from the old 94.9 MOJO?

at 5/12/2007 1:13 PM Blogger Stephanie said...

There are two things that I really miss about the old WGRR. I miss the professor and the urge to dance on the way to work. I have nothing against music of the 70's but like to hear perky music on my way to and from work. Lately, I changed WGRR to a talk station on my way to work. Why not? I'm not getting that high feeling anymore. My suggestion for a great station would be to mix the oldies with the seventies. Keep your loyal listeners and new ones.


at 6/29/2007 7:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the sudden there's no more Elvis, no more Monkees and no more Jim LaBarbara, and Chris and Janeen are telling fart jokes. *sigh*

at 4/01/2008 3:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i see trouble on the way changes always leadto changes of format ectra.ill tri it for a while an see what happen always liked it the way it was hate fox ebn an sappy 98

at 4/26/2008 6:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again management has screwed up something good. If you want to improve things go back to what WGRR was and fire management. Let the people who know what Cincy wants (DJ's) do it. Management will only ruin things.

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