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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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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Willie & Seg: Just Another Stunt?

So was the "fight" between Bill Cunningham and Bill "Seg" Dennison legit last Friday? Or just another publicity stunt? And will we ever know? Or care?

So many signs point to this being just another scam to draw attention to the station and Cunningham, and to drive traffic to the WLW-AM website for the "official statement" (which I'll print here, so you don't have to go there).... If you compare all the instant attention to this "fight" Friday afternoon to the secrecy by the Big One around Andy Furman's suspension/firing a year ago, then it looks like another stunt.

If you didn't hear, here's what happened. In the final half hour (2:30-3 pm) Friday, around the time of the Willie-Seg "Stooge Report," Willie and Seg got into an argument. According to Scott Sloan, who was filling in for Burbank (3-6 pm), Willie threw a newspaper at Seg, and Seg hit Willie in the face. The altercation continued in the hallway.

--Even before Cunninghman's show ended, Sloan was on the air talking about it. If this were really serious, would they go public with it? NOBODY talked about Furman's absence during his suspension. Employees were ordered not to talk about it. They also didn't talk about the Clear Channel firings right after Thanksgiving. But this "fight" they talk about intstantly?

--By 5:30., Sloan was telling listeners a Clear Channel memo had been issued ordering air personalities not to talk to Seg when he did his 20/20 sports reports. Gee, when Furman was suspended, Big One employees were ordered not to talk about it -- and not to talk about the fact they were ordered not to talk about it....

--When Seg did his 5:40 sports report from Great American Small Park, Ken Griffey Jr. interrupted him to ask "what happened at the station?" Dennison said: "An altercation ensued. I took care of myself, but Willie is a little messed up." Listeners also heard that Willie had a busted lip, or might have lost a couple of teeth.... If this were serious, you'd think someone would know exactly what injury Cunningham suffered? No, instead it sounded more like WWE hype and theatrics to me. Cunningham is a smart attorney; if he was assaulted, why hasn't he filed charges? Or a police complaint?

--Cunningham and Dennison are good friends, and coworkers for 24 years. Earlier in the week, Cunningham said Seg would do NFL scores and recap during his new nationally syndicated Sunday night talk show starting Oct. 7. (So if Seg doesn't appear on Willie's new national show, I guess the fight was for real?)

--I can think of one reason why Seg would want to punch Willie: I'm sure that Dennison, who is down at Great American Ball Park for all the Reds games, heard plenty of negative comments from players about Cunningham's broadcast remarks that Adam Dunn was drunk the night he missed third base. Then Willie went down to the stadium and apologized to Dunn on Thursday. So maybe the Big One pulled this stunt to make Cunningham a "victim," to get some sympathy after his slanderous remarks about Dunn?

--When opertations director Darryl Parks was on Saturday 9-11 a.m., he said Cunningham was saying he won't return to his show on Monday. Are there any Clear Channel insiders reading this who can tell me if Cunningham already had time off scheduled for this week? Again, this sounds like another scam where somone gets "suspended," when the person is actually on vacation... How many times has Cunningham pulled that one...

--Parks also said on the air Saturday that he couldn't talk about (ordered by Clear Channel HR department, he said), and encouraged everyone to go to the website to read the statement. They're really encouraging people to go the website, to increase traffic. So here's what's on the website:

"Dear 700WLW Listener:
Our goal is to entertain and inform you each day. The staff at 700WLW is a family, and at times can be considered a dysfunctional family. Any family has disagreements and arguments. Unfortunately, our disagreements may end up being exposed to hundreds of thousands of people.
On Friday, September 7, 2007, an ugly and uncalled for incident was broadcast on 700WLW. The disagreement, argument and physical altercation was never meant to be heard. Bill Cunningham and Bill Dennison have been friends and co-workers for over 24 years. They have each brought us hours of entertainment. I hope this will continue.
Bill Cunningham made the statement he will not return to 700WLW until Mr. Dennison has been reprimanded. As of this writing, I have been in contact with Mr. Cunningham and his representatives and we are working toward a resolution of this issue. I hold out hope Mr. Cunningham will return to his daily show in the near future. We are also in the process of investigating this incident internally.
In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the varied and popular programming on 700WLW.
Darryl Parks
Director of AM Operations
Clear Channel Cincinnati

--If Willie did provoke Seg, how about making Cunningham broadcast from a WLW billboard (like Wildman Walker in the 1991)... until the Reds win... a pennant?
--If Seg really assaulted Cunningham, then where's the police report or a law suit?
--If Furman was fired for questioning if TJ Houshmandzadeh was a racist, what are the consequences for Cunningham calling Dunn a drunk on the air?

But if Seg refuses to appear on Willie's show, or the "Stooge Report," or on Cunningham's big new national show, then maybe this is all legit.

Either way, what folks at WLW want is attention. And they're creating it.


at 9/09/2007 1:23 PM Blogger Toddy-O said...

Was the apology encouraged by "Helen Mays"?

When is Willie due to go on his next vacation uh, I mean "suspension"?

The act is getting old. Bring back Randy and name Eddie or Bob Berry with Kevin Wolff as Gary's replacement. Please!

at 9/09/2007 2:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted this Friday on another thread

Hello, Glue Factory?

We have another dead horse, beaten to death by the Unoriginal One at 8044 Montgomery Road.

Get a new shtick please. The Willie is suspended routine or the Willie is not going to work until something happens routine is very old. The only saving grace on this one, thankfully, I did not have to hear it. My very uninformed friend still gives the Decrepit One a listen to.

What is worse? The fact that the station is still stupid enough to do that tired act or their stupid listeners who actually buy into it. Either way, we probably now get stuck listening to the Yes Man program director try his weak act on the air all week. I for one, won't be listening, not that I did anyway.

Back away citizens, nothing to see there but a train wreck of what used to be a proud station.

at 9/09/2007 3:21 PM Blogger liz said...

I think it's just a cover up to get the attention off of calling Dunn a drunk. Who believes anything WLW says? It must be time for Cunningham to take a vaction so this is the stunt that explains his not being there. I have better things to do with my time than to listen to such nonsense.

at 9/09/2007 8:34 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cunningham dined with his wife at Betta's in Norwood on Friday night and looked no worse for the wear. It's a scam from the little one.

at 9/10/2007 7:34 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, dont fall for this folks.
WLW creates something, then everyone talks about it and the station and their ratings go up. Dont get caught up in this trash.

at 9/10/2007 7:43 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...


at 9/10/2007 8:26 AM Anonymous rick said...

John, I'm surprised that you even waste "ink" on this nonsense...

at 9/10/2007 8:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Publicity Stunt.


at 9/10/2007 8:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The part that kills me is that people still think Willie actually is getting suspended during these stunts.

It must be working however, the masses still listen to the stupidity on the station.

at 9/10/2007 9:24 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cincinnati is 28th in radio market size. Thats why you have such trash on the AM dial and no news or information. Just junk and the likes of WLW. On the FM side its just the same music over and over and in the mornings its just belly laughs and junk. Get XM or sirius and you will be alot happier. Thus, that is why WLW keeps digging deeper and deeper in the "how to create ratings" barrel and idiots like Darryl (guess my real name ) Parks get to keep their jobs. I wish Clear Channel had 700 on their list to sell.

at 9/10/2007 9:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The folks at WLW are the masters of self-promotion. Why would anyone believe anything they said?

at 9/10/2007 10:00 AM Blogger Brian said...

Hey, at least the 50-70 IQ demographic has something to talk about this week.

at 9/10/2007 10:30 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That station used to be so creative and now look at it. Sad, very sad.

at 9/10/2007 10:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another reason this is faked:

the podcast for the show is still live.

Had this been a real incident, they would have done whatever they could to keep that from getting out.

If I wanted trash like this I'd watch Jerry Springer.

at 9/10/2007 11:02 AM Anonymous Derrick Smith from Columbus, OH said...

I love it! Radio is theatre of the mind and I hit their website 5 times to read the statement, because the Big One deserves it. Listeners forget that radio entertains as well as informs. Now if this happened to Seg or Cunningham in the Reds dugout, that would be a real story, but this is fun. Have at it. Maybe they should have a "Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots" fight to help out the nuxhall charity or something like that. Take the stick out of your butt, America and have a laugh for once.

at 9/10/2007 12:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Scott Sloan at the Reds Game Friday right after his shift on the radio and he point blank told me Willie is on vacation this week and it is all a stunt. That is fine with me, Willie is getting really old anyway. His act is very boring and unentertaining. I could care less if he comes back.

at 9/10/2007 12:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE Willie, and I can't wait for him to return! I can only crack up at this whole thing, whether is be a stunt, or for real! It's just too funny either way! And for all you people who are dogging the station and saying they just want to create more hits on their website, boost ratings, ect., I've got news for you: You are doing exactly that! Wake up and listen to the Big One instead of that Liberal Crap and maybe the world will be a better place! Get well Willie! I miss you already!

at 9/10/2007 12:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Enquirer never does anything for self hype.

at 9/10/2007 1:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it was a stunt. Willie's constantly running his mouth and is a little wimp. I'd have punched him long ago.

at 9/10/2007 1:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As annoying as Cunningham can be, Scott Sloan is worse.

Last Friday afternoon, Sloan persisted in referring to the death of Cecilia Slaby as quote "babyque". Although now that I think about it, Cunningham used a similar term.

That is a juvenile, pathetic, and sick attempt at humor and being cute with words.

WLW needs to decide if they are going to have mature and responsible radio show hosts or stay on the juvenile humor bandwagon like most of FM radio in the morning is.

at 9/10/2007 1:38 PM Blogger Brad said...

Supposedly there is a YouTube video of the fight, but I have not been able to find it.

at 9/10/2007 1:39 PM Anonymous Ern Collins said...

As a longtime WLW listener, I know a stunt when I hear it. And this is a stunt. John listed many reasons why it's obviously a fake. I would only add that the convenient timing of "the incident" -- in the show's final minutes on a Friday -- further confirms this as a stunt. Also, I'm sure this "feud" was initiated to promote Willie's new national show next month. My prediction: the "feud" will continue until Willie's new show premieres next month when listeners will hear Willie and Seg on-the-air together professing their love for one another.

Perhaps my tastes are pedestrian, but even though I know it's all fake, it still cracks me up. Everyone loves a humbug. :)

at 9/10/2007 3:49 PM Anonymous Thom Stanley said...

Lemme ask, John: how can you act upset and fed up with these shenanigans, then appear on that station just a few days later?

at 9/10/2007 8:11 PM Anonymous carol said...



Seems the BIG ONE is always pouncing on the misfourtune of others and
hurling tons of humiliation whenever possible. Everyone is grist for the mill. Now they have a little dust up and everyone is mum. Even warning the news guys to not discuss the Seg/Willie thing on air. Warned by ownership.
Can you spell Hypocrite ??? It's listed just under child molester in the


at 9/10/2007 11:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


Next you will be telling us that Synonymous is not really a member of the Bengals, or that Burbank really isn't calling Marge in Heaven...or that Jim Scott's interviews aren't really point? Of course its a scripted storyline that Willie is using to take time off or for other reasons. Its good radio. By the way are you bashing Griffey Jr for being in on it?

at 9/11/2007 8:55 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another reason to tune into my Sirius Radio. Is this the best "bit" Cincinnati radio can come up with? Who cares what those two wind bags have to say. Join the revolution on Sirius....Channel 100!

at 9/11/2007 10:24 AM Blogger NANA B said...


at 9/11/2007 10:37 AM Anonymous Mike said...

I used to work at a unnamed local Jesuit University and was discussing the "big one" with one of the also unnamed elderly CA professors. He told me how much he enjoyed the reports by Randy Furman but had trouble finding the "all traffic station" on his radio. Yup, a CA prof! I hated to break the news to him because he's a sweetheart of a man but it points to the fact that some of their "schtick" actually "sticks" to the wall.

at 9/11/2007 12:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon from 9/10/2007 11:01 PM

You mention that this is good radio. You are missing the boat, it is NOT good radio. It is tired and stale like the rest of the station. Same old dumb bits, reused over and over. I for one, do not think it is good radio. That is the point most people are making.

at 9/11/2007 1:07 PM Anonymous Thom Stanley said...

I just heard the podcast from the show: this is so obviously fake, it's ridiculous. The best that I can say is that Sloan is a damn good actor (for the little things, like the door) and that it drew listenership....

Good Lord.

at 9/11/2007 2:35 PM Blogger jaybird said...

Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey are
hoping Seg busted him.

at 9/11/2007 3:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Bill Cunnigham is amazingly obnoxious and insulting. He's foul and profane. Who needs that for entertainment. I quit listening to him some time ago. I rate him right up there with Howard Stern.
I would listen if he didn't come back.

at 9/11/2007 4:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for Clear Channel and the empoyee policy is VERY clear-- if this fight was real both parties must be fired---no questions-- no second chances. This is just another stupid stunt by DP and his stooges

at 9/11/2007 5:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

They keep saying that the video is on You Tube. If it is, it's well hidden. I searched for it 2 hours after the alleged fight and numerous times since. It ain't there. Just another BS stunt.

at 9/12/2007 7:01 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my people need to RELAX!

I LOVE Willie & Seg and the whole "stunt" makes for some serious laughs...

Willie has a highly rated ENTERTAINMENT program. Following this silliness is funny and entertaining!!!

I think the critics don't get it. These 2 guys are hysterically funny & this stunt just adds to the comedy mayhem.


at 9/12/2007 8:21 AM Anonymous full moon said...

Cunningham is old news in this town. Local radio desperately needs fresh ideas and new personalities.

at 9/12/2007 8:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of unprofessional promotional gag, needs to be STOPPED! I for one will not be listening to WLW again.

at 9/12/2007 2:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Jim Scott. Jim Scott is my hero. I love puppies.

at 9/12/2007 3:26 PM Anonymous o said...

WLW is now just a cult.

Besides WWE story lines, they also share an audience full of IQ challenged folks who either believe what is fed to them, or don't mind being fed the same thing over and over again.

That is why radio is dying.

at 9/12/2007 3:36 PM Blogger liz said...

The trouble with stunts like this, is that you don't know when they are crying "wolf" again. How do you know if it's entertainment or the real thing?

at 9/12/2007 4:23 PM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

Well, I run very hot and COLD with Willie.

But honestly, this is such a TIRED none of you remember the TRUCKING BOZO IS DEAD junk from over 10 years ago or so. Sheesh.

Daryl Parks so needs to GO.

I bet if he left, Burbank might stay around longer...unless they got another jerk to take DP's place.

DP ain't that popular with the folks that work at 700.

at 9/12/2007 4:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see why they would want to increase traffic to their website.

It stinks.

at 9/13/2007 10:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

700 WLW. Clean out the entire closet of losers. Jim Scott. Please, the guy talks 100 miles an hour and says nothing. Then Scott Sloan and his WULWU Bengals reports. All of this crap makes me sudder at the lack of quality radio programming in this market.

at 9/13/2007 11:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys complaining all have no sense of humor. It's funny. HAHA

at 9/13/2007 11:09 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Willie is enjoying the sun, sand and golf right now in his Naples area residence. Check out flight manifests from last week and he will be on one.

Seg is still Seg and he will be there for eternity. Seg likes to be degraded, but he is one of the truly, nicest human beings on the planet.

They are simply driving people to the website because it is probably advertising rate time.

Lastly, they have to keep this up because they know that WILLIE IS THE CASH COW. If people know that Willie is truly gone, will people still listen? They know that all it takes for many people is the push of the button and that listener is gone. However, if there is a "Willie Sighting" or if he has been "spotted in the building" people will hang around just in case, even if that means that you have to listen to the uninteresting, non-entertaining garbage that they put on there instead of Willie. Great sales and marketing ploy, but that tactic will run its course soon enough.

at 9/13/2007 3:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A previous poster is right; Burbank would be around longer if WLW wasn't a such gawd awful place to work with jerks in abundance. There are a lot of ex-Clear Channel (AND ex-Jacor) people in town who will tell you the stories. Kiesewetter is acting dumb to pretend that this scam might be true. If he's been in Cincinnati this long elbowing around the media circles and doesn't know enough to know this is a scam AND also know dozens of true stories that would curl conservative Cincinnati's hair, then he's been sleeping at his desk all of these years.

at 9/13/2007 7:22 PM Anonymous Jay said...

Kiesewetter knows this is a stunt. Anyone who listened or has listened knows it's a stunt. The article, like the staged on-air incident, is for entertainment purposes. Don't like it? Don't read it. Don't turn it on. In fact, it's clear that the majority of individuals commenting here don't even listen to 700 and are using this as a forum to bash the station and its alleged IQ-deficient listeners. At least WLW still has a strong, loyal listener base. In these times of fashionably bashing the right, there is but one failing voice for the left out there. If you people are so damned smart, how come you can't keep your message alive, even with fradulently obtained funds? Get a life and think for yourselves. Oh well. Back to my Curious George book.

at 9/13/2007 9:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people take everything Cunningham does so seriously? This is simply entertainment (like 70-80% of Cunningham's show). Not everyone will enjoy it, but some will. If you like it, great, keep listening, if you don't like it, find something else to do. No real need to get into an uproar about it..

at 9/13/2007 9:23 PM Blogger Joey Beard Face said...

I find it entertaining myself.

To each his/her own...

P.S. why all this talk about Radio on a Television blog?

at 9/13/2007 9:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

If WLW is such a joke, why is it the 5th highest rated channel on XM? Why is Willie on Fox News? Hey didnt Willie have something to do with the freedom concert being setup there? Relax dumb people.

at 9/14/2007 12:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

These freaking nuts at 700 WLW have lost their collective minds. Not that they ever had any! Today (Friday) they are now running promos from Cunningham saying that he is coming back after tough negoiations and that he and Seg Dennison have agreed to disagree and have parted ways. Goofy Darryl Parks on the air today is also saying after tough negotiations. Why does this stuff continue to go on. They are always number 1 in the market , so why do they do this crap for ratings?

at 9/16/2007 3:10 PM Anonymous Michael A. Banks said...

You know them both, and what great poker faces they put on.

I say there are two more acts--one to try to convince people it's all real, with people missing from the air. The big finish will be reconciliation, perhaps with Seg and Willy uniting against Clear Channel. Background music up and ... fade. Or something close to that.
--Mike Banks

at 9/17/2007 3:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Don't beleive a word of this.Willie is a lawyer, why is he blabbling about alll the things thatSeg did .We all know that you don't talk about things like this until you go to court.We are not dummies, so Drop all the melodrama

at 9/18/2007 3:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that Bill Cunningham looks alot like Howdy Doody? He acts like him, so why not look like him. I love when Peter Rose comes to town and Dennison gushes while interviewing him.

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