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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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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jockey Joe Kelly Dies At 68

If you were listening to WLW-AM in the late 1960s, you'll remember the name Jockey Joe Kelly. He did middays from January 1969 to April 1976, and left here to buy and operate a Hawaii radio station.

"He had a great deep voice and was really popular with the ladies. He had huge ratings," says former WLW-AM coworker Jim LaBarbara, a DJ at WNKR-FM in Dry Ridge. LaBarbara recalls how Kelly did his show in two shifts, 10 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3 p.m., around the live simulcast of the "Bob Braun Show" on WLW-AM and WLWT-TV (Channel 5).

By the late 1970s, Jockey Joe was a big country music DJ in Denver. That's where he died last Saturday, at age 68.

I met him once in high school in the late 1960s, when he was MC for our talent show. Anyone have some Jockey Joe stories?

Here’s the info from

Jockey Joe passes at 68
DENVER- Joseph "Jockey Joe" Rateau died on Saturday, December 8 2007 of complications of Diabetes. He was 68.

If you lived in Denver during the late 70's through the early 90's you may have heard his name, and his voice. Joseph "Jockey Joe" Rateau worked at 56KLZ and KYGO during his 15-year stay on Denver's airwaves and his show topped the rating chart. He entertained listeners with humor and style from 6:00am to 10:00am weekdays.

Jockey Joe's career began in the 1950's when, at the age of 15, he got his first DJ job with WHBC in Canton Ohio. He spent the next 40 years as a disc jockey for such notable stations as WLS in Chicago, WONE in Dayton, KLEI in Hawaii, and WLW in Cincinnati.

Joseph Rateau was a Type I diabetic and supported the American Diabetes Association. Joseph "Jockey Joe" Rateau died at home in Littleton, CO. He is survived by his wife Alice, his son Joey, his daughter Julie, and his sisters Darlene George and Sherry Young.


at 12/12/2007 2:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

We say this every time we lose one of the giants: Great Voice/Great Talent.

All the "poopsies" must be feeling the loss.

God has put together quite an air staff up there. JFPO, Rich King, Dave Bunce and now, Jockey Joe.

Let's hope Randy Michaels lives a long time, so he doesn't get up there and screw it up like he did down here on earth.

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

and for overnights, Joe Lomas (with a sprinkling of Stan Matlock and Leo Underhill too)!

at 12/12/2007 4:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Jockey Joe too. Have one from the neighborhood, John Randolph(who did the request line at WPFB.)Dont know if he is still alive or not, "Fred" might want to weigh in on that
from the neighborhood

at 12/12/2007 5:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was just getting into the business in the late 60's, Jockey Joe let me and another guy hang out with him at the 9th & Elm studios sometimes on the weekend.

We learned a lot from just observing and made a friend in the process. Joe had me out to his place in Maineville, which then was the middle of nowhere, near Kash's Bargain Barn.

We would talk about radio, the Reds and life in general, while he worked out in his garage converting old busses into travel campers. He was a master with a welder's torch.

As with most broadcasting "friendships" we lost touch after he left town, but I knew he had been in bad health for some time.

It's sad to see another personality from radio's greatest era pass on. Godspeed Jockey Joe.

Fred Slezak

at 12/13/2007 6:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Randolph is retired and living in Danville Kentucky where he used to own the local station in town.

Go to and you will find all sorts of JR photos and air checks from the 70's.

Kies, there are also some classic photos of Gary Burbank from his WAKY days on that site, in case you are doing a Burbank retirement piece.

FS, from the other neighborhood.

at 12/13/2007 7:24 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Joe the guy that took an old bus, made it into a neat camper, then drove his family up to Alaska and sold the bus for a huge profit?
There was a DJ at WLW that did that and my memory bank says Jockey Joe was the man.

at 12/13/2007 9:08 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Fred! Maybe a group of us from the neighborhoods should get together sometime during the holiday season! And thanks, Kies too.
from the neighborhood again

at 12/13/2007 9:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is left from the Radio 7 days? Professor, Harry Smith, Geoff Nimmo, Greg Picciano and Bill Ridenour?

(sidenote to John time you are on with Burbank, bring up Don Webb aka Senor Smoke)

at 12/13/2007 11:56 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who's left from Radio 7?"

Just guessing...Nick Young (didn't he just retire at CBS radio news?), Ken "Dan Clayton" Wolt, Chuck Daugherty, Bob Beasley (or did Beas pass a few years back?) about the news guys? John London, obviously. Thought I just read that Bill McAllister died a few weeks back. Is Maxine Hardwick still living? PD's like Michael O'Shea and George Cooper. Of course, the big guy himself, Charles K. Murdock. Great radio.

at 12/13/2007 3:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first time on air at WLW was on Jockey Joe's show as a 7-year-old. My dad was a WLW client back then so my parents knew him. That would be in 1974. My mom and her aunt had just taken my cousins and me to see the "Nutcracker" at Music Hall. Our walk took us past the old COMEX building at 9th and Elm. Joe saw us through the window and waved us on in. He put me on the air with him and asked me a couple of questions. It was pretty cool. Thanks to him and Gary Burbank, I've been on the air at WLW in four different locations. As for Joe, my parents ran into him a couple times in Hawaii after he left town. I know they liked him a lot. Another great voice of 700 is silenced. He will be missed.

Russ Jackson

at 1/15/2008 3:23 PM Anonymous Dan Clayton said...

Just got the word about Jockey Joe. We worked together from 1970 to 1974 at the "Big 7". He did mid-days and I had the afternoon shift.He was a very easy going guy and a wonderful talent. Big voice! He kept promising me a ride in his bus, which he was forever converting to an RV...I don't know if he EVER finished it, but I never did get that ride. God speed Jockey Joe!
Dan Clayton

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