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Television
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, January 04, 2008

David Ashbrock Leaves Channel 19

Another victim of budget cuts: David Ashbrock, the terrifically versatile producer-director at WXIX-TV (Channel 19).

Ashbrock has done just about everything in 27-1/2 years at Channel 19. He directed UC basketball and football games; the coaches’ shows; directed some 10 p.m. newscasts; designed the news graphics, mapping and opening animation; helped set up the new HDTV switcher and monitoring scheme; plus produced, directed and edited specials about the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Zoo and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He won 32 Emmys in 27-1/2 years.

But he was told that his job as station executive producer was being eliminated after Channel 19 terminated its UC television contract last month. His last duty was to direct Channel 19's final original UC basketball telecast, the UC-Miami game last weekend.

"I was shocked, but not surprised, because I've seen this happen so much in the business. I thought I was immune because I wore so many hats, and put in so many hours," says Ashbrock, 51, of Blue Ash. "I was a producer, director, editor, writer, graphics designer, production manager and technologist."

Channel 19 coworkers were shocked too.

“I did a lot of problem-solving for people on the staff, with production technology issues or editing or lighting. I’m called on a lot by a lot of people, and they asking, 'Who's going to take care of this now?' I didn't know what to tell them. I did lots of things that made our place function more efficiently,” he says.

But Ashbrock's stature in the TV industry reaches far beyond the walls of the Channel 19. He is very respected throughout the TV business, having served for 10 years on the National Emmy Awards Committee for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). Since 2001, he has been chairman of the National Emmy Awards committee, which writes rules and regulations for national sports, news, documentary daytime and technology Emmys. His wife, Peggy, is former regional administrator for the Emmys.

He's also sought after by regional/national sports networks. He has freelanced on Reds games, Xavier basketball, A10 basketball, Cyclones hockey, Bengals preseason games, golf, bowling and indoor soccer.

And he's a very nice guy, a real class act. He refused to talk about his termination until after the UC-Miami game. "I didn’t think it was right to comment while I was still employed there," he says.

The Moeller High School (1974) and UC (1978) grad worked two years at Channel 9 before hired by Channel 19 in 1980. A few months later, Channel 19 got UC basketball rights.

Now he's unemployed. Add his name to the list of those who lost their broadcasting jobs in '07: Laure Quinlavin, Andy Furman, John Phillips, Brian Patrick, WEBN’s Mr. K, Will Sterrett, Duke & Rob Ervin from the Gary Burbank Show…

Ashbrock says he has received a couple of "quite serious" calls from potential employers. He also plans to create a production company, and continue freelancing for regional and national sports channels.

"If I only wore one hat, I'd be very nervous about trying to find a job. But I'm excited about the opportunities of what I might be doing," Ashbrock says.

I know many current and former TV workers read this blog. Do you have some stories about working with Ashbrock? Will you add your tribute to him here?


43 Comments:

at 1/04/2008 3:02 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,

Did Mr. K also work on 92.5 the Fox under a different alias?

His voice sounded familiar to someone on there (maybe Ken Glidewell?)

 
at 1/04/2008 4:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

kiese sorry to be off topic, but did chris shaw really leave fox 19 and if so why?

 
at 1/04/2008 4:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only say Mr. Ashbrock is the consummate professional. As a former FOX19 news producer, I remember being intimidated the first time I produced a show directed by Ashbrock -- more than less because I was working with someone of his stature and I had little producing experience. Right there in front of the entire crew he told me there was no need to be nervous or intimidated and that these fears would only be taken care of in a matter of time. Talk about the truth. I've come far since those early days at 19. Thanks, Dave!

 
at 1/04/2008 4:49 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work with Dave on the sports telecasts back when WXIX had a GMC Motorcoach as a production truck (known as the "White Whale"). Dave was one class act. Maybe good guys do finish last.

RM

 
at 1/04/2008 5:38 PM Anonymous Outraged Producer said...

I used to work at FOX19 also. I'm not in Cincy anymore but a former coworker linked me to Kiese's blog. The idea of David Ashbrock being removed from FOX19 is appalling. What the hell is going on, is the station being sold or something???

I imagine the remaining staff at 19 will be busy this weekend grinding out resumes.

With Mr. Ashbrock's departure, FOX19 is nothing more than a license on a piece of paper.

Good luck David. I was scared to death of you then but it was awesome to watch you at work. More than 10 years and 4 markets later you're still the single most accomplished person I've ever worked with in this business.

Hope you wipe up the floor with those cheap Raycom SOB's if you go into business for yourself.

 
at 1/04/2008 6:24 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was shocked right before Xmas when I first heard about David Ashbrock being let go. No one could figure out why, except for the usual whine about how profit margins ain't what they used to be. Whatever.

It's a real sign of how this business has collapsed when you consider that the two best producers in town, Jim Friedman and David AShbrock, are no longer employed at TV stations. And while I've worked with Jim and consider him a friend, when it comes to overall ability he can't even begin to shine Ashbrock's shoes...and Jim will tell you the same thing himself!

 
at 1/04/2008 10:24 PM Blogger Tom said...

I had the pleasure of working with David several times while I worked at UC. Like others have said here, it's mind-boggling to me that they'd let him go.

But he's an incredibly talented guy. He's going to be a force once he gets his plans together. And I, amnog many, will be cheering.

 
at 1/05/2008 12:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fox19 = Hound19

 
at 1/05/2008 12:42 AM Anonymous wags said...

David Ashbrock = Regional & Local television.Look at the national announcers in the sports world David Ashbrock had in his stable of Stars: Derek Dickey (went on to CBS), Kevin Frazier (Fox), Chris Rose (Fox) and last but not least,Thom Brennaman (Fox).Correct me if I'm wrong but the last 2 names are anchoring and calling the BCS National Championship game for Fox on Monday night.What David Ashbrock taught me in the world of Sports Television is invaluable.
David, YOU are going to be just fine.Thanks for being a mentor and friend.
Mark Wagner

 
at 1/05/2008 1:16 AM Blogger ctrosecrans said...

best of luck to dave, who is nothing but a pure pro -- always has been. he'll be fine, not so sure we can say the same about 19

 
at 1/05/2008 10:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese, between this and CC, Cincinnati has lost its class.

 
at 1/05/2008 11:59 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't hear that Laurie Quinlavin lost her job at Channeol 9. What happened to her?

 
at 1/05/2008 12:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

WXIX is a shadow of what it once was. To pull out of the Cincinnati Basketball contract is a joke, but letter go of a 28 year employee on three weeks notice is more than appalling.

John Long is a total abomination of a General Manager and the past 18 months has been a laugher with his personnel. From the weather anchor leaving under suspicious circumstances to the loss now of any true local programming, this station has evolved into the place where old television shows go to die and where a talent show is the only show of note. If the writers strike continues I guess the best that we can hope for is that Raycom will replace this guy and make a commitment to Cincinnati. This is not going to happen of course as media are downsizing all over the country. The next thing that they will cut is the local news, and well they should as Atherton and Macke are tired and mere charactures of what television news should look like. Compared to Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh our local news across the dial is a total joke.

 
at 1/05/2008 5:57 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked with Dave briefly. He is right, everyone went to him to solve problems. He was the only constant/leader in that building. In the coming weeks, the GM will finally find out what Dave meant to that station.

 
at 1/05/2008 6:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

David:
Best of luck to you, my friend. And if I can help you in any way, I'm there.

Tom Sussi

 
at 1/05/2008 6:44 PM Blogger Toddy-O said...

Of the years in television and now outside television, Dave was the pinnacle of Cincinnati television. Only several others gained that respect in this city. Jeff Heusser being another.

I have had the luck to work with Dave several times. A consumate professional and maybe intimidating at first, but when you get to work with the Babe Ruth of Cincy TV, an honor.

Good luck Dave. 19's loss.

PS. John, you forgot that Dave put together Dick Von Hoene's COMMERCIAL FREE half hour obit. Another class act!

 
at 1/05/2008 11:30 PM Anonymous Powell Crosley said...

Unfortunately I believe all of our local news, Radio and TV programs will eventually be outsourced to India!! Eventually we will see Marty Brennaman replaced by Madhav Brijesh from New Delhi.

When there are no more good paying jobs in the US who will buy the expensive cars and our consumer products?

 
at 1/06/2008 6:58 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off Topic but I can't find a better place to say it. The new weekly TV schedule sucks. Bring back the booklet. The "new and improved" schedule is one half step up from the days were had to fold and cut the schedule 30 years ago.

 
at 1/06/2008 7:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, what a brutal business... I'd have an ulcer the size of a watermelon...

 
at 1/07/2008 11:28 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toddy-O:

Where is Jeff Heusser these days? You're right, he's in the best-of-best league with Ashbrock.

 
at 1/07/2008 11:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Particularly in the media, when you cross the age 50 barrier, sadly, people are considered less valuable. It's kind of like the whole conversation going on with Hillary and Obama where experience is viewed as not as necessary as "fresh ideas" and charisma and younger people are more "with it," brighter, flexible.

Add to that mentality the whole bigger is better mentality, experience equals greater compensation and the whole economy of scale thing and people in the mid to later years of their careers are doomed. It has happened in many other businesses and broadcasting is catching up.

Just what I want to listen to on radio and see on TV - pimpled faced children fresh out of college reporting news, picking TV shows, moderating talk shows. Dweebs eveywhere. I'll take my $110+ household income to where experience and excellence of content is valued.

I went to college with Dave. He and his wife Peg are great people. I feel for him. I've been through it and made a career change 8 years ago. I still fight that 50+ barrier every day. You just have to get through it one day at a time.

 
at 1/07/2008 11:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before everyone at this blog jumps on FOX19 GM John Long it might be worthwhile remembering this business is changing and what used to work financially ain't cutting it anymore. We're gonna see more bodies piling up in the months ahead - not just at 19 but at every station in the city, guaranteed.

I have no way of knowing but I bet canning Dave Ashbrock was a cut John Long wasn't too thrilled to make. But he did it. That's why he gets the big bucks and the rest of us are pulling cables.

 
at 1/07/2008 11:49 AM Anonymous Exxed by 19 said...

A big, huge mistake that, sadly, will affect Fox 19's production staff more than Raycom. As far as I'm concerned, Raybob is the worst thing that happened to that station. Ice cream cones on Monday, fired by Tuesday.

 
at 1/07/2008 2:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll dissent here. I freelanced with him a few times and found him to be an arrogant, a-hole. Talented no doubt, but not humble.

 
at 1/07/2008 3:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked with David Ashbrock on "Light Up the Square" when it was a production of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. He was a class act all the way. I can't even imagine what Fox 19 is thinking (or not as it was!). I'm sure that someone will snatch him up immediately.

 
at 1/07/2008 3:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is happening at Fox 19? If you are there now, get out. That place used to have so much potential. It was the top Fox station in the country at one time. It is now a joke!

Valerie Abati, Chris Shaw, Paul Horton, now Dave Ashbrock? They are four very talented people, who no longer work there. I hear even more people behind the scenes have left as well. Just let the ratings tell the story. Very Sad.

 
at 1/07/2008 3:39 PM Blogger Toddy-O said...

Anon 11:28: He's in Los Angeles, doing incredible digital work on those unheard of projects like "Titantic" and "Fantastic Four" etc. Go to IMDB.com for more info. :)

 
at 1/07/2008 6:11 PM Anonymous Exxed by 19 said...

Hey Anon 11:32am...

Hook me up with one of those $110k/year TV jobs. I'm a FOX19 employee! Get Me Out Of Here!!!

John Long is Raycom. That's all that needs to be said. Those Alabammy Bean Counters wouldn't know local TV if Robert Trent Jones pulled himself out of his grave and drew diagrams.

 
at 1/07/2008 8:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the "dissenter" of 1/7:

I've worked in this business for almost 20 years now, and during all that time I've yet to see David Ashbrock behave as an "arrogant a-hole."

However, it is quite true that Mr. Ashbrock does not suffer fools or incompetents gladly. If you're lucky enough to land on one of his crews, you'd better be damn certain to show up early, stay totally focused, and work to the outer limits of your ability.

There's a seemingly forgotten word that neatly sums up his work ethic:

P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L-I-S-M.

And there's simply no one in "new" or "old" media who's *more* professional than David Ashbrock.

 
at 1/08/2008 12:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I see Tom Sussi wrote a comment here. Another Good guy that got away from the Cincy market and tearing up his Hearst competition in Orlando Florida. Dave Ashbrock is smart and talented and will be up on his feet quicker than Fox 19 will recover. Wait and see.

 
at 1/08/2008 10:04 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never worked WITH Dave Ashbrock... I was always at a competing station. I wish I had worked with him. I knew him well from working on NATAS things (he served as President of the Ohio Valley chapter for many years). Dave is a giant among us regular TV producers, simply the best and such a class act. I've lost track of the number of times I would call him and say, "Oh Dave, I love this spot, please tell me how you did that with the background (or gfx, animation, etc.) And Dave would always share his knowledge with me. He made me a better producer and I was at the competition! ALl I can guess is new bean counters came into WXIX and they don't realize what a talent they had. Someday, after I win the lottery, I'm going to start my own station and hire Dave, Jeff Huesser and Jim Timmerman (WCPO) to run the best station ever. You are an awesome producer and person Dave - all the best to you!

Donna Carpenter Raque

 
at 1/08/2008 11:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dissenting opinion is valid. I too worked with Dave. He is every bit as talented as everybody has said. But the truth is that extremely talented and opinionated people can at times be a-holes. Especially in a creative endeavor, it is sometimes necessary to exert a bit more pressure to reach the end. That doesn’t make David a bad person it just makes him human. David will continue being David. He’ll ruffle some more feathers along the way and produce more great work. Like others have mentioned, the bigger loss is to 19.

 
at 1/08/2008 2:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that all of the stations are more concerned with how to save the most money rather than how to keep the best people in the business who KNOW the tri-state area? It seems like when I watch local news these days there is always something that dose not make any sense. Who is doing the producing? College kids? I noticed in the paper the other day that Chic Poppe was retiring. Upon seeing that I realized why WCPO's morning show was so different.

 
at 1/08/2008 4:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who worked with David, I was extremely saddened by his departure. His honesty, integrity, professionalism and respect for co-workers is just not found in this business anymore. David would always have a moment to answer whatever question...whether it was to do with work or with life. He would be the first in and the last out with out complaint. He would Produce/Direct and then turnaround in the same day and paint and sweep. When others managed by "do what I say" David managed by "do what I do" Continually raising the bar. At times he could be unrelenting (Peter... Peter... are you with us Peter) but it always made you a better player in the game and you came to appreciate his ribbing. He was a mentor to all.

David will be missed at FOX19. Everyone left is disposable. David was the only one there who was not.
His departure can truly be summed up with a memorable line from an outstanding movie... trust me this is how it was felt when he left...at least how this one felt...
"...Captain, My Captain."

 
at 1/08/2008 4:40 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left Fox 19 five years ago after realizing that Fox 19 management cares about one thing, and one thing only, money.


David was not arrogant, but he did not accept anything less than your best. He worked 18-20 hours days for Fox 19 and expected focus, hard work and dedication from his employees.

There is no doubt that he could have left Fox19 years ago, and he made much more $$$$$$ somewhere else.

He stayed because he loved UC basketball, Cincinnati, and the work that he did. David took immense pride in his work, and who he worked for, and it goes to show where Fox19's loyalty (or lack thereof) lies.

Current Fox 19 Employees: Please take note!

If they will get rid of David Ashbrock, Andy Treinen, and other professionals that dedicated so much to Fox 19, what do think Raycom will do when your contract comes up?

Good luck, David. Those of us who worked with you know that you will succeed, and capture even more Emmy Awards.

 
at 1/08/2008 6:09 PM Blogger Karla Stanley said...

I worked with David at FOX 19 for a number of years. He is everything everyone has said about him. He and I certainly had our moments, however he is quite simply a creative genius. David, I wish you luck.

Karla Stanley
News Director
CITN/Cayman 27
George Town, Grand Cayman

 
at 1/08/2008 9:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

19 has lost a world-class talent and someone who did work that set the station apart from the local competition, even if he is an a-hole.
As Dave said, this is not surprising. This is a station that lost Appuzo and now has no chief met. Think they're saving money there? Reporters like Andy Treinen, Wendy Shaw, Tom Sussi, Gene Cox and Chris Shaw have been replaced by the cast of High School Musical. Think they're saving money there?
Anybody checked to see if the bosses are driving new cars?
What's next? Force the employees to pay for their coffee?
Karla Stanley wouldn't stand for this.

 
at 1/09/2008 9:23 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay we know how talented David is but what about stories on him? Here’s a general one, relating to the phenomena of one being “Brocked.” While working away in the control room, or in one of the Avid bays, David was known to veer off the beaten path. That’s how he was able to come up with new and interesting productions. He would experiment; try out new techniques, etc. In doing so he would often have to change presets on various pieces of equipment. Unfortunately, David wouldn’t always “normal” the control room when he was finished. This would become evident when the next person to sit down at the switcher, or audio board, or camera would start the shift the next day and find that his or her equipment was out of whack. Everything was different. The person would shout out that something’s wrong. It doesn’t work like it should. That’s when someone else would volunteer the reason: “You’ve been Brocked!” As frustrating as it might have been at the time, I suspect those of us left at FOX19 will miss being “Brocked.”

 
at 1/11/2008 8:18 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, who mentioned Jim Timmerman? Talk about an abomination. I wonder if he still wears the bow tie while working at Norwood Cable Access? Talk about a fall from grace!

 
at 1/13/2008 7:50 AM Anonymous Jim Profit said...

Dave was and is the last of the 19 legacy, their is no old blood at the station. I worked with Dave and Yes he could be a little as you say "On Edge", it was because he loved what he did. And yes I remember the 16-20 hour work days he put in, we in the crew would say he's not human, a machine. And we were in pups compared to him in age. He made you want to work harder and be professional. And yes John Long is a budget cutting fanatic at the point crew members were being paid $6.00 an hour (In 2003-04). I know I was one of them, but being young, wanting to know more about broadcasting and working with people like Dave made it worth while. Dave thanks for teaching me that "failure is not an option"

 
at 1/14/2008 11:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave was a class act, he could be a pain and yell and scream, and we actually had pools to see what he would say and how many times. PA and floor directors came and went but they could all tell you something good about Ashbrock.

 
at 1/15/2008 6:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Asbrock = The John McEnroe of Cincinnati Television Broadcasting!

 
at 1/31/2008 5:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually yes...we do have to pay for our coffee now! IT is ridiculous. I have been working at 19 for almost two years and I have not moved up in the ranks or had any kind of review. I also worked with Ashbrock on a few occasions. He is by far the best producer/director in the business. I have been looking at other stations to work at around the country. The was things are going at 19 now, I might not have a job in the future.

 
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