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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, March 29, 2007

Rewriting TV History?

So here's something to think about: Would Channel 5's news ratings be bigger today if Rob Braun was anchor? Would Channel 5 have been in last place since Jerry Springer left 14 years ago, if Braun was there to take over as main anchor? It could have happened.

I've been working on a story about second-generation broadcasters for our Sunday A&E section, before Thom Brennaman does Opening Day with his dad. Among those I interviewed was Rob Braun, son of Bob Braun, the late Channel 5 TV host. Rob told me that he got his first taste of the TV business with his dad's help in 1981, doing a six-month unpaid internship at Channel 5 news. During that time, he was twice offered jobs at Channel 5 -- but corporate nixed it citing a nepotism policy, because his dad was still hosting the "Bob Braun Show" (until 1984). Even after Rob proved himself at Channel 5's sister station in Knoxville, Channel still wouldn't hire him. So he was hired by Channel 12 in November 1984.

Do you suppose the decision-makers have regrets today? Channel 12's 11 p.m. news, with Rob, has been No. 1 for years? How many main anchors has Channel 5 been through since Springer left?

Let's go one step further: Would Channel 5 still be in third place today -- or is it fourth behind "The Simpsons?" -- if the station had kept Clyde Gray, Steve Horstmeyer, Jeff Hirsh, Bill Hemmer, Thom Brennaman, and how many others that you can name? Or where would Channel 9 be today, if Clyde Gray stayed at Channel 5? Or what would Channel 12's news look like without Rob Braun?

What do you think?


at 3/29/2007 8:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember right Channel 12 was the #3 rated news when Rob Braun anchored with Debra (something). It wasn't until Kit Andrews started to anchor the late news they became #1. So maybe the question should be where would Rob be if Kit wasn't there.

at 3/30/2007 12:50 AM Blogger Not Todd said...

Channel 5 has been all downhill since Zip Rzeppa left.

at 3/30/2007 1:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of 5 would have been dumb enough to fire Rob and Clyde after awhile. The door would have eventually hit him in the butt too. Channel 5 can't grasp onto the concept of hanging on to the best. So...9 and 12 get the best two male anchors in Cincy and 5 will continue changing anchors and staff...that's just the way it seems to work. i think they like 3rd place!

at 3/30/2007 9:43 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Channel 5 has suffered from poor management decisions regarding it's news operations for quite some time. The decision makers (general managers and news directors over the years), never seem to have a clue.

at 3/30/2007 10:17 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the News Director currently at 9 a former ND from 5?

12 was a powerhouse in the 70's and part of the 80's with Nick Clooney. 12 was taking risks with new technology and how they were packaging and presenting their news.

I think TV news is cyclical. 12 will inevitably hit bottom again and 5 will be on top. It's just not their time yet. But it's coming.

at 3/30/2007 11:48 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i am not mistaken, her name was Debra Silberstein(not to be confused with Deb Silverstein at channel 9(butler warren news bureau)and she was woefully inadequate. This was at about the same timet that Ira Joe went east and they brought in Mitzi Oxford
(another BIG mistake).
from the neighborhood

at 3/30/2007 11:49 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was Debra Silberstein with Rob Braun back in the late 80's early 90's before Kit became anchor.
What is anyone's opinion of
Mary Krutko?

at 3/30/2007 12:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I recall, Rob Braun anchored last place newscasts in almost every time slot, including 12's ill-fated 7:00 news. Management stuck with him & now they are #1. He is part of a good team, but I think Kit deserves more credit for the success than Braun.


at 3/30/2007 3:50 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

Doesn't Mary Krutko do some type of real estate show on Sunday mornings?

at 3/30/2007 3:51 PM Blogger BMurdock said...

Last time I saw Mary Krutko she was hosting a real estate show on Sunday mornings. Is that still on?

at 3/30/2007 8:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the point of this blog entry? There is absolutely no point sitting around and debating hypotheticals that may or may not have contributed to a television station's preformance. Who knows if Rob Braun would have made any difference at 5, that certainly wouldn't have been the only factor to consider. We could sit around and debate these pointless hypotheticals all day and get nowhere. Looks like this entry was just an excuse to use "maybes" to justify criticisms leveled at a station. Don't we have more important things to talk about?

at 3/30/2007 9:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"decision makers (general managers and news directors over the years)"

Keep in mind that, when it comes to main anchors coming or going, that's almost always a decision made above the station level, especially at Hearst stations like 5.

at 3/31/2007 12:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that news is cyclical, but 14 years without a 1st place victory is beyond cyclical. Look for more of the same revolving door policy that has kept ch. 5 in the basement all of these years. Sandra Ali's contract is up at the end of the summer and watch for her to move on.

at 3/31/2007 4:04 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a little silly to say people watch a certain newscast just because of the people on it. That is part of the equation, but not all of it. The stories are also an important part of it. 5 focuses so much time promoting personalities that the product is forgotten. Then you end up with forgettable news like "5 things everyone woman needs to know." That whole segment isn't built around the content - its built around Sandra and Sheree presenting the content. And when you promote only personalities, you lose out when those people are fired, quit, etc. Look at the Jim O'Brien fiasco. They promoted the heck out of him, going so far as to call him the undisputed severe weather leader - then they can him. Now they are promoting Derek Beasley. Watch 5 because of Derek! No one knows who the heck Derek is!!!! And when he leaves in two years, they'll do the same thing all over again, instead of promoting something that the viewers can really latch onto. So, no, it wouldn't matter who 5 had on the air I guess is what I'm saying.

at 4/01/2007 8:42 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

what ever happened to debra silberstein? she was one of those blonde cuties.

at 4/02/2007 2:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be mean, but why would anyone want to know what became of Debra Silberstein....She was one of those blond "cuties" who give them all a bad name!
Another name from the past would be Karla Stanley....and she was very good.I actually met her at a softball game with the WKRC all stars.
from the neighbhorhood

at 4/03/2007 9:44 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/30/2007 12:39 PM was right, they were in the basement and struggling with a revolving door of on-air faces and managers in the early 90's. They fired an admittedly talent-deficient Silberstien while she was away on maternity leave and her marriaige was ending in divorce... classy. I'll give them credit for sticking with a core group of staff and adding the veteran cast-offs from the competition during the lean times and it's paying off now with lots and lots of baby-boomer viewers.

at 4/11/2007 3:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be damned if Rob and Kit are the reason why Local 12 is #1. I'd have to say CBS' high ratings is the primary reason. Any given time of the day, they are the two most lifeless anchors on Cincinnati TV.

at 3/31/2008 4:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like Ch. 5 has a problem holding onto talent for any length of time.
I doubt that Rob Braun would have lasted long there.
It seems unlikely that he's the main reason why Ch. 12 has done well - probably a combination of CBS and a good support team around him and Kit.

The best thing I can say is that they don't seem to offend anyone....

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