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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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Friday, December 14, 2007

It's 96 Rock

96Rock? When have we heard that before? twenty-five years ago?
Cumulus' "SupertalkFM96.5" flipped formats today at noon, obviously up against Clear Channel rocker WEBN-FM. They're calling it "Cincinnati's pure rock." The on-air promos say, "We like it loud, how about you?"
The Two Angry Guys will return Jan. 2 from vacation, but Andy Furman is gone. The website says: "Angry in the morning, pissed all day."
It will be interesting to see how long this 96Rock lasts. (Little help here: When was the old 96Rock on the air?) I think it started in 1982, and went 3-4-5 years.
And how many rock stations have come and gone in the 40 year history of WEBN?
WSKS-FM (96.5)
WAQZ-FM, the power pig
WAQZ, the Howard Stern station


at 12/14/2007 12:27 PM Blogger utech said...

WTF, like Cincinnati needs another rock station - sound like they loaded up the ipod and put it on shuffle. who can't do that!?
every radio i own was set to 96.5 - guess I need to take another look at satellite radio, or go back to the hiss and whine of AM - no thanks.
what a major disappointment.

at 12/14/2007 12:31 PM Anonymous Fed Up!! said...

96 original is that?? Again another radio station just as they are starting to get some ratings and loyalty, changes format. Haven't these people learned from stations like WEBN and WLW? I was enjoying the "Supertalk" because it was refreshingly different from the other talk stations. Again Cincinnati radio listeners are forced to listen to garbage that the so called "experts" think we want to listen to. I will definitely change my preset button that is now currently set to 96.5. Good bye and Good riddance.

at 12/14/2007 12:35 PM Anonymous Bond said...

Their logo has too many colors...

at 12/14/2007 12:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lance...really...HOW 'BOUT THEM SOURCES?

at 12/14/2007 12:53 PM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

Well this TOTALLY STINKS. we do not need another generic rock station..which I never listen to by the way.

Would be nice to have more talk radio in town..and less syndication...the national angry white guy syndication has gotten weary.

Wow...TPTB really screwed up with this format change.

Be nice if they did this until the first of the year and added more real sports talk and the Burbank crew on in the afternoon...course, we know he is off to retirement...but what will happen to furman and the others.

This is just too weird. These radio stunts have gotten old. I also will have to change my preset buttons in the car.

at 12/14/2007 1:02 PM Anonymous elder43 said...

Supertalk had a wonderful mix of Angry guys and Furman with their expert spin on local and national sports and the outstanding supporting cast of syndicated talk. Could they not afford the national bubbas? Didn't seem like they gave them much time to succeed. In my small circle, 96.5 was growing in solid numbers. Hopefully Andy will land on his feet again locally. We need another rock station like Bonds & Clemens need another needle.

at 12/14/2007 1:05 PM Anonymous golfer said...

drive all day, and had 96.5 on dial. loved beck show. thought we finally had an alternative to that sucky wlw700. guess i was wrong, i guess i will have to look elsewhere.

at 12/14/2007 1:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I welcome the new format. While I'll miss Supertalk, 96 Rock will have a better chance to compete.

WEBN has seemingly been complacent for years, living off its reputation and the occasional envelope-pushing billboard campaign. And its numbers are way down from the Frog's heyday.

Supertalk couldn't do much damage against Clear Channel's talk stations, but I can see WEBN getting hurt by 96Rock.

96Rock probably won't catch WEBN in the ratings, but I think it will perform much better than Supertalk and will take WEBN down a few more notches.

at 12/14/2007 1:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furman wasn't so bad on 96.5.
I like being able to click from
WLW to Lance to Andy when I
was out walking my dogs.

I'd give it all up though if
somebody could just bring back

at 12/14/2007 1:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think 96Rock went off the air back in the early 90's....I want to say like 1992, when it switched to YoungCountry 96.5. That change over was awful because the looped Garth Brooks "The River" for what seemed like a week.

at 12/14/2007 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

late 70's, after WLW-S (Stereo96)

at 12/14/2007 1:34 PM Anonymous Yo said...

Another reason to get sattelite radio.

Free radio really is very, very awful.

at 12/14/2007 1:49 PM Anonymous Rodney Anonymous said...

well, it ain't original but it's better than what it was. they could put on a 1khz tone and it'd sound better and be more informative than the ignorant rants of Beck and the Falafel

at 12/14/2007 2:09 PM Blogger JerBear said...

Kinda feel sorry for Andy Furman. I was just starting to listen to him more. It'll be interesting to see where he lands. I wouldn't be surprised if he left Cincinnati, but then again he has some strong ties here and his young kids here so I'd have a hard time seeing him leave also.

I really don't understand what these radio executives are thinking these days. I don't think they really know which way to go either.

With Ipods and MP3 players these days, I think it's hard for the radio people to gain listeners. There are just too many other options.

at 12/14/2007 2:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you all realize that the same people that ran Clear Channel are running Cumulus......they like to mess with things and see how many times they can screw something up before they move onto something else in the industry.

at 12/14/2007 2:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never understood why a talk radio show was put in the middle of the dial. AM is for talk radio shows in my opinion.

I don't know of anyone that listened to Supertalk anyway.

at 12/14/2007 2:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing will ever beat WOXY-FM. They're still on the air as WVXU's HD2 channel on HD radio (91.7-2). Best radio station in Cincinnati by FAR! You can still catch them on through the Internet as well.

at 12/14/2007 2:46 PM Blogger liz said...

I will miss Dave Ramsey. Glad I have XM in the car. 96.5 will have to do without me.

at 12/14/2007 2:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were two FM radio setups that I mourned for when they went off the air -- 96Rock as a superior alternative to WEBN, and then 107 when it was an alt-rock format in the 90s.

I have no idea if 96Rock's format would still work -- they were a lot closer to WTUE in style than they were to WEBN -- but I'll give it a listen every once in a while. Bender and Fingers was the morning drive show which launched Eddie Fingers' career, and he was never funnier than he was on that show.

at 12/14/2007 3:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Furman was a tired act. I mean, how many high school coaches do we need to hear? Nobody but their players call in and the coaches all say the same things. Lance McA should go to the Big One in Jan. to replace Gary "I'm not funny anymore because I've gotten too political" Burbank; another tired act.

at 12/14/2007 3:41 PM Anonymous Radio Jack said...

Oh boy, another over processed rocker. Can anyone put a signal on FM without 40 db of limiting and 10% distortion?

at 12/14/2007 4:02 PM Anonymous Ben said...

I remember the 96 rock bumper stickers back in the mid '80s. That station was gone I think in the late '80s. John has the dates about right.

I'm a DC resident who grew up in Cincy. I travel some and would tell you local radio is almost universally terrible no matter what market you're in. I've been holding out on getting XM but I think I've reached my breaking point.

at 12/14/2007 4:05 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny... You people ought to go back and read PREVIOUS radio threads where MANY of you sounded off on what kind(s) of stations you wanted here in Cincinnati. "Bring back 96 Rock!" was one of the more popular threads. You get what you want, and still, all the bitching?

There was NO competition for WEBN in this market. Rock needed a new home. WEBN is tired and played out, with just about every DJ sounding like a high school dropout (but probably being paid less!) I know it's mostly a gimmick, but still... I welcome the competition - and the ROCK.

"This totally stinks." Then stop bitching and don't listen. You old farts need to get over yourselves.

at 12/14/2007 4:49 PM Blogger bmurdock said...

Yeah John's timeline is about right. The previous comment about96.5 swithing country in the early 90s was actually when they flipped from carrying the nationally syndicated ZRock to Young country (or some variation of country). Cincy rock radio was actually kinda fun back then. It was WEBN vs ZRock vs PowerPig (107.1). Powerpig was obviously created in to take out ZRock (and protect WEBN)because once ZRock went away Powerpig became (the original) Channel Z.

I'll need a little more time to pass judgment on this version of "96Rock."

I have to wonder if Tom and Richard are only being kept on because they're under contract? Will they be gone next October? At least they both have other jobs. I feel for guys in the business that don't have anything else to fall back on....

at 12/14/2007 5:53 PM Anonymous SpongeBob SquarePants said...

I'm 28 years old - this is the 3rd incarnation of "96 Rock".

In the late 1980s, the station switched from "96 Rock" to country WBVE "The Beaver 96 1/2".

WBVE lasted for a few years and morphed into a pseudo-bluegrass station near the end. In 1989 or 1990, the station flipped back to "96 Rock".

A few years later, the station flipped to satellite country, "The River 96.5". Another poster mentioned they played Garth Brooks' "The River" for what seemed like days on end.

"The River" eventually became "Young Country - Y 96", a sister station for WUBE. A few years later, whoever owned the two country stations sold WYGY to someone else. For a short time, it was called "Eagle 96.5", then a few months later changed to "96.5 The Star".

"The Star" is now "The Wolf" on 97.3 FM.

at 12/14/2007 6:29 PM Anonymous ZRocker 89 said...


In the Early 90's 96.5 was WZRZ, Z-a non local satellite rock format based in Dallas TX.

at 12/14/2007 8:21 PM Blogger bmurdock said...

Good call "Sponge Bob" I couldn't remember what format/identity 96.5 had between 96Rock and ZRock. How could they have gone wrong with "the Beaver" LOL!

So far their play list is just okay... I was hoping for something a little more on the edge like WXEG out of Dayton or Sirius' Octane. Guess we'll have to give them some time... at least it's an option other than WEBN.

at 12/14/2007 9:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is odd to say the least. So the Angry Guys are going to open up with their sports and guy show and then all of a sudden, they go home for the day and we start rockin?

What a well thought out plan. Love the Angry Guys, but hope they're not finished after their current contract because it's hard to imagine how they fit in on a rock station unless they're gonna start talking music too. To that I say, HOLY!

at 12/15/2007 6:20 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when the Fox switched from classic rock to go head-to-head with WEBN. I never listened after that...until they switched back!

at 12/15/2007 7:15 AM Anonymous thrilled said...

John you were covering radio then, shouldn't you have access to this info?? 96 ROCK 'signed off' in October of 1986 and changed to country just before the 1st JACOR takeover when ebn and wlw came together. while many 'grew up' with ebn as their rock station, 96 ROCK was the 1st rock station I connected with as a listener, and I'm excited about the return of the modern day 96 ROCK. I really like the sound of the station & I predict it will be here for a long time to come. it will be good to hear a good mix of rock hits that don't span back to 1967. this won;t be the end of ebn, but it will be the end of them hogging listeners by default. a much needed improvement for cincinnati radio. I enjoyed some of the personalities on the talk format, but john, please remind your bloggers of their ratings share: less than a 1-share with no signs of a turnaround.

at 12/15/2007 11:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just sure that Tom Gamble and Richard Skinner are thrilled they work at this station now!!!! Angry in the morning and pissed all day. Good Goddddddd as Tom would say.

at 12/17/2007 8:15 AM Anonymous Observer said...

Ooh, goody! Yet *another* rock station! How fresh, how innovative, how safe can you get.

To quote from the very first post, "WTF?!"

In the end it'll probably just further fragment an already too-small share of a shrinking pie.

You've heard of "end-stage" organ failure in people? It sure looks as though we're witnessing "end-stage" failure in over the air radio.

The poster who said radio execs probably don't know which way to go these days hit the nail on the head. They're as confused as everyone else - change is happening so quickly that it's impossible to keep up with it, much less get in front of it.

I find satellite radio, in its own hyper-niched way, to be safely homogenized and predictable - but Lord, it's better than having to deal with the collective "we give up" attitude from the corporate puppeteers who hold the strings of Cincinnati radio stations.

And we wonder why 20 and 30-somethings gave up on the medium years ago?

Even Randy Michaels (love him or loathe him, he saw the new world coming) is apparently devoting his energies to TV these days.

R.I.P. Radio.

at 12/17/2007 9:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very excited about this station and the music they play. WEBN plays way too much old music and doesn't pay enough attention to the newer bands. And 94.9 the Sound has too much pop music mixed in with the rock and alternative they play. 96 Rock is giving us exactly what this city lacked, a station completely focused on music from the 90's and now. Kind of like WBZX in Columbus (99.7 The Blitz). WBZX has pretty much the same music format and performs decently in Arbitron ratings. Same with WXEG in Dayton, which, at last check, was fifth in the ratings for Dayton.

at 12/17/2007 12:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those who think the Two Angry Guys won't mix with the new music format, consider 92.5.

Bob and Tom in the morning, mixed with classic rock. It works well at the Fox.

A sports show...a comedy show...while not the same, both are entertaining shows that help, rather than hurt, the overall station. The key is how much 96.5 continues to promote the Angries. The "Angry in the Morning, pi$$ed all day" slogan" suggests that will happen.

at 12/17/2007 1:50 PM Blogger bmurdock said...

I agree with the Bob and Tom comparison. Most of the rest of the FM stations talk so much during their morning shows they might as well be talk shows. If that bothers folks let Tom and Richard spin a few of their favorite songs from time to time - of course I don't think their tastes would fit the format to the station...

at 12/17/2007 8:13 PM Blogger Dan said...

I loved the Supertalk radio and lisened to it most of the day. I especially liked the Glen Beck show and others.

at 12/17/2007 8:36 PM Anonymous SpongeBob SquarePants said...

You're right - I forgot it was called Z rock in the early 1990s.

Weren't their call letters orginially WZRQ for a short time before they were WZRZ?


at 12/14/2007 6:29 PM Anonymous ZRocker 89 said...


In the Early 90's 96.5 was WZRZ, Z-a non local satellite rock format based in Dallas TX.

at 12/18/2007 12:02 PM Blogger bmurdock said...

I think WZRQ was 107.1's call letters for a brief time. If I remember right there was a rumor they wanted to get in Q102's face and call themselves Q107 but that never happened.

ZRock was mostly national with small bits of local mixed in. Guess in a lot of ways they were a preview of what was to come...

at 12/19/2007 9:34 AM Anonymous myballshavefleas said...

OH BOO HOO HOO My talk station is gone wahh! Like we needed another sports talk staion, wich is what 96.5 mostly was. I too liked Beck, missed him when he got booted from krc but life went on. I still hear, (and see) him on cnn. If you wan'na hear talk go to the old side of the band-width. I personaly, have so far liked what I hear on 96Rock. It's about time we lost the whinny emo crud music from our rock and gave way from the 60's and 70's (wich is good music don't get me wrong) to hear some new, and harder than you hear on 94.9, ROCK! thanx cumulus but this time leave the stations stay put for a while ;P

at 12/19/2007 12:56 PM Anonymous Givemebackramsey said...

I have already changed the preset on my car radio to another channel but I keep going back thinking that my talk radio will be there. I wish it would have remained the same. I know 3 other co-workers who listened to Dave Ramsey, Glen Beck, The Two Angry Guys, & Andy Furman and we enjoyed them all. Now I feel like someone sucked the life right out of me. Like some else said I guess I will look to satelite radio. I just don't think the station gave the format enough time. Cincinnitians seem to take awhile to change. Please bring the old format back.

at 12/21/2007 7:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point "myballshavefleas." (Classy name, by the way. It shows that you're someone worth listening to!) Cincy doesn't need another sports talk station.
Oh, but I hope you enjoy the 2 Angry Guys again mixed in with your ROCK starting January 2nd!
Sports talk in the morning, overcompressed and miserable the rest of the day!

at 12/21/2007 10:11 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an experiment for you. Listen to the music (if you want to call it that) on 96.5 for just 5 minutes and you will think you have lost your mind and need to puke your guts out. Does this pitiful market need a station like this?

at 12/30/2007 8:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of this grousing about the absence quality, music intensive radio in Cincinnati can be easily quelled. Granted, 'EBN and 96 Rock are reflections of homogenized corporate thinking. Innovation, where Cincy radio is concerned, is largely a thing of the past. As commonly known, corporate radio is formulated by the investor's minions, not "real" radio people. The powers that be, i.e., bankers, attorneys, et al, are clueless as to the critical need for understanding specific markets. Cincinnati is not Chicago or L.A. Across the board imaging is nothing short of reckless. Fortunately, undiluted rock radio exists in the Tri-State. The signal isn't as powerful as the corporate sticks. However, the product is pure without corporate puppeteers yanking the strings of the talent, programming department, and more importantly, the listener. The answer to the local rock radio quandary follows:
88.9 ClassX. Can't get the signal in your neck of the woods? They stream as well:

at 1/02/2008 8:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today is the first I've heard of this change having been away for the holidays. I, for one really liked the SuperTalk format. I don't usually comment on this sort of thing, however, this time I want to express my opinion to the person or persons responsible. Does anyone have the phone numbers or email, any contact information? Someone needs to hear me say "GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR A**!!!!!"

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