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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, April 30, 2008

Dancing For The Weasels

Those weasels at ABC! Making us wait 56 minutes into the "Dancing With The Stars" results show to update the condition of actor Cristian De La Fuenta, who ended up in the hospital with an arm injury while dancing a samba on Monday's live show.

They kept teasing us all night, before they finally interviewed Cristian in the closing segment during the elmination round. He said his arm injury will require surgery, but doctors say he could continue in the competition if he wanted. So he and partner Cheryl Burke (a two-time champ; she won with Drew Lachey) said they'd stay in the competition. Minutes later, as time ran out, it was announced that actress Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough were going home.

I hate these drawn-out results shows. I usually watch on fast-forward, starting with the last five minutes. That's what I'll do from now on, after getting suckered by ABC into watching the whole hour. What a waste of time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Budget Cuts At KET

Public TV viewers in Northern Kentucky – and throughout the state – could see some changes on Channel 54 and the rest of the KET network due to state budget cuts.

This statement was issued this afternoon by KET:

"The recently enacted Fiscal Year 2009-10 Kentucky state budget eliminates $1.8 million in general funds for KET, representing a 12% cut from KET's original FY 2008 state funding. Additionally, the loss of funds associated with retirements could potentially result in more budget reductions.

At the Friday, April 25, meeting of the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television, KET's governing board, action was taken to authorize planning for the implementation of budget and personnel reductions that will impact KET's educational programs and services. Specific reductions have not yet been identified.

"The severity of these budget cuts will significantly impact KET's ability to produce and deliver vital educational programs and services to the citizens of the Commonwealth," said Malcolm Wall, KET executive director. "We know that we are not alone, as many agencies are facing similar budget cuts. While we are disappointed by the state budget and personnel reductions, we are focused on planning and managing KET's resources through this challenging time. Our priority is to serve the viewers, teachers and students who tell us every day that KET's educational programs are more essential now than ever before."

WMUB-FM's Morning Edition Problem

For Butler County residents who missed parts of "Morning Edition" early today on Oxford's WMUB-FM (88.5), here's the explanation from General Manager Cleve Callision:

"Sometime overnight the computer controlling WMUB's unattended operations locked up and failed to make the necessary switches to transfer us from overnight jazz to Morning Edition at 5 am. By the time our staff could fix the problem (involving a substantial re-boot), we missed segments of this morning's show. Our apologies for the disruption; we will be working today to try to figure out how it happened and what we can do to prevent future occurrences."

Another Emmy For Collinsworth

Congratulations again to Cris Collinsworth. He won a record eighth Sports Emmy for best studio analyst last night, for his work on NBC’s Sunday night pregame show, HBO's weekly "Inside the NFL" (which was canceled in February). He broke his own record of seven Emmys in that category.

Unlike last year, the former Bengals reciever and WLW-AM "SportsTalk" host did not win the Emmy for outstanding game commentator. NBC's John Madden was honored as best game analyst.

Find the list of 2008 winners at

Monday, April 28, 2008

Steve Overbeck Looking For A New Station

Good news for Steve Overbeck fans: He says he'll be back on the radio soon, after being terminated last week by Clear Channel’s WKRC-AM.

Local radio's auto mechanic guru says he has offers and meetings with people, "so I will be back on the air on another station." His "Autoline" has been heard on WCKY-AM, WVXU-FM and WKRC-AM for about 30 years.

Overbeck won't say why he was dumped before last Saturday’s show. "I have no comment about Clear Channel," he says. Program director Tony Bender also didn't want to talk about Overbeck's firing, calling it "an internal issue." However, Bender did say a posting on my blog Saturday claiming he came into the studio April 19 and fired Overbeck for violating company policy by smoking in the studio was not accurate.

The 4-8 p.m. auto show will remain part of WKRC-AM’s "how to" Saturday lineup, as Bender provides on-air auditions for local mechanics. He wants to hire a permanent replacement by the end of June.

So which station will pick up Overbeck? An AM or FM station? WUBE-FM has talk on Saturdays with Denny McKeown. Maybe there? What's your line on the new home for "Autoline?"

WDJO-AM Picks Up Paul Harvey

Well, this didn't take long. Paul Harvey, dropped today by WLW-AM, will be heard on oldies WDJO-AM (1160) by the end of this week.

It's a good move for the oldies station, which called Harvey's bosses at ABC News last Friday when they heard Bill Cunningham announce that WLW-AM was dropping Harvey starting today. Harvey should be popular with WDJO's 25-64 target audience.

Harvey returned to his shows today after a two-month absence recovering from pnuemonia. You can hear him at

He will be heard on WDJO (probably starting Thursday) three times a day:

8:30 a.m.: Five minute "Paul Harvey News" during Dusty Rhodes show.
Noon: 15-minute "Paul Harvey News" during Ted McAllister.
6 p.m.: "The Rest Of The Story" feature will open Rodger Kay's 6-9 p.m. show.

Miley Cyrus Gets The Picture

It must be tough being a 15-year-old superstar trying to show your maturity while working for the Walt Disney Co.

Vanity Fair has an excellent profile of Miley Cyrus, star of the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana," in which she's called "the biggest child start since Shirley Temple, give or take a couple of Macaulay Culkin movies, or an Olsen twin." She seems very grounded to me.

Yes, she says "Sex and the City" is her favorite show, which probably didn't make Disney folks happy. But she also loves "I Love Lucy." She also reveals that she keeps in touch with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, so maybe they've given her advice on how not to crash and burn. And she says she relies on her parents – mom Tish and dad Billy ray Cyrus – to keep her in line.

Obviously the photos by Annie Leibovitz (some with her dad) are another attempt to grow up a little. She now says she regrets the controversial photos, one of her topless wrapped in a sheet.

Here’s what the says in Vanity Fair about the pictures: "I think it's really artsy. It wasn't in a skanky way... and you can't say no to Annie. She's so cute."

Here's what she says now, according to ABC News: "I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."

The Disney Channel has chimed in with: "Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines."

Art or embarrassment? You can judge. Read the story at

The story has a link to the "Tween Angel" gallery of 18 photos, though it's not working now.

What do you think?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Steve Overbeck Out?

Don't be surprised if WKRC-AM auto expert isn't on the air 4-8 p.m. Saturday. I haven't nailed down all the details, but I hear he was dropped after last week's show. I couldn't reach Overbeck Friday afternoon, and his website still says he's on 4-8 p.m. Saturday on WKRC-AM.

He's very good and knows his stuff... and might be hard to replace. If you're listening to radio Saturday afternoon, lemme know if you hear him or not. And maybe one of the Clear Channel insiders who read this blog can fill us in.

WLW Dropping Paul Harvey

WLW has said "Good Day!" to Paul Harvey. Reports by the 89-year-old broadcasting legend (who has been absent most of this month) will not be heard Monday on Cincinnati's No. 1 station.

At 6:25 a.m. Monday, Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" feature will be replaced by Gary Burbank's "Earl Pitts" commentaries, which haven't been heard since Burbank retired Dec. 31. (Welcome back to the Big One, Gary!) What they should do is run some of Burbank's old Paul Harvey "The Rest of the Story" bits at 6:25, and air Earl Pitts at Harvey's 8:30 slot....

Bill Cunningham's talk show will start at 12:05 p.m. Monday. The extended news block with Harvey has been dropped. Now Cunningham can go head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh at noon.

I haven't heard of any stations picking up the Harvey features. Hamilton's WMOH-AM (1450) talk station and oldies WDJO-AM (1160) haven't been pitched Harvey by ABC. I honestly don't know which other non-Clear Channel stations would be a candidate for Harvey.

In the early 1990s, when WLW-AM acquired WCKY-AM and WKRC-AM programming, I remember how excited the WLW-AM folks were to get Paul Harvey. The managers felt they needed Harvey to be a complete news-talk radio station, when he was in his prime. I'm not surprised they're dropping him now, especially with all his absences. Nobody can imitate his unique voice inflections, and those who try sound like a Burbank bit or former SNL regular Joe Piscopo doing a spoof.

And now you know the rest of the story... Paul, you had a good run. We'll miss you. Now it's time for Page 2! Good Day!

Must See TV: White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday

A DVR alert for C-SPAN? Yes :). One of the funniest TV shows each year is the White House Correspondents Association dinner every April on C-SPAN. It starts at 8 p.m. Saturday on C-SPAN.

Craig Ferguson is the entertainer this year. In the past, Leno, Colbert and Cedric the Entertainer have done the dinner. (We'll forget the year Imus did it.) Usually the funniest stuff is when the president does/orchestrates some schtick. One year Bush did a routine with Bush look-alike Frank Caliendo translating the remarks. It was hilarious. Another year Laura Bush told George to sit down, and she did a stand-up routine. She killed. In Clinton's last year, he did a terrific video about the boredom of his final days in office (written by the "Everybody Loves Raymond" writers). Leno came on after that Clinton video, and praised Clinton's comedic skills.

Set the VCR for 8 p.m. Saturday. You can fast-forward through all the arrivals in the foyer and the boring awards, then enjoy Ferguson's routines... and probably laugh harder at whatever self-deprecating routine Bush cooks up for the dinner.

Jimmy Fallon For Conan, Conan For Leno Next Year

Sounds like a good choice to me: Variety reports that Jimmy Fallon will replace Conan O'Brien as the first step in Conan replacing Jay Leno. At the "upfront" the week of May 12, when the networks announce their fall schedules, NBC is expected to announce that Fallon will take over for Conan in February sweeps.... then Conan will replace Leno in September '09.

What fascinates me most about this story is how Leno is apparently having second thoughts about leaving "The Tonight Show," which is still No. 1 in late night. And how ABC (despite the heavy Kimmel promotions), Fox and Sony are interested in Leno. Sony apparently would launch a late-night syndicated show with him.

I know some people love to hate Leno (particularly Letterman fans) and other love him. I still think his monologue is one of the most consistently funny parts of daily television. (I used to say the funniest, but can't any more because of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report.")

Is Fallon a good choice for O'Brien's show? How will Conan's act play on "The Tonight Show?" (I guessing Letterman will become No. 1 when Leno leaves.) Do you think Leno could have similar success doing a late-night show on another network? Or do you want him to just go away?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sweeping Up For May Local News Sweeps

As I'm working on my Sunday A&E story about the competitive local morning TV newscasts, I was surprised that three stations are going into sweeps month (starting today) without their A teams. Particularly when top-rated Channel 12 could be vulnerable, after losing meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer. For most of his 19 years at Channel 12, "Good Morning Cincinnati" was No. 1.

--Channel 12 has replaced Horstmeyer with John Gumm, the personable evening weekend forecaster. But his bosses say the move isn't permanent. News Director Elbert Tucker and General Manager Les Vann say they're still looking at tapes for a fourth forecaster, after which they'll decide if Gumm sticks in the morning. At least they're filling the position. Van says he's still evaluating the budget for this year and next to see if/how they can replace any of the others the station has lost since last fall: Paul Adler, Dayna Eubanks, Sasha Rionda, Richard Jordan, etc.) Without Horstmeyer, John Lomax is the morning TV personality with the longest tenure (since 1990).

--Channel 5 traffic producer Perry Schiable apparently won't be the permanent replacement for traffic reporter Pete Scalia, who quit in March for a morning anchor job at Dayton’s Channel 22. News Director Brennan Donnellan says they're still looking at candidates. I've known Perry since she wrote for our Local News pages four years ago, and she's a great lady, but my guess is that they're looking for someone with an extrovert personality. But can they out-do Channel 12's Bob Herzog?

--Channel 9 is using fill-ins and freelancers to replace morning reporter Becky Freemal through sweeps. However, Lance Barry is the permanent replacement for Lisa Cornwell in the "Breaking News Center,"says Bill Fee, vice president and general manager. Without Horstmeyer, Larry Handley is the morning meteorologist with the longest tenure (since 1999).

--With all these changes, Channel 19 goes into sweeps with the most stable news team. Rob Williams and Sheila Gray have been together longer than any morning anchor team (since 1999), but they have a relatively new morning weatherman in Frank Marzullo(since January).

Channel 12 stayed on top after Cammy Dierking left in 2005. We'llsee what happens in May sweeps, which end May 21. What's your prediction?

Another American Idol Surprise

Was Carly Smithson your pick to win "American Idol?" I figured she would at least be in the Top 2 for the finals... until I watched last night's results show. Were you surprised too? I was, as I was last year when Melinda Doolittle didn't make the finals.

After Brooke White stopped and started again Tuesday night -- the first time that's happened on "American Idol" -- I thought she was history. Not so.

What's the lesson here? That most of the voters are probably teen-age girls, which means that the two Davids -- Archuleta and Cook -- will be the final two? What was not to like about Carly, except that tattoo? Or that she's from Ireland? (After all, it's American Idol).

By the way, Archuleta is leading our poll, followed by Cook. Last is Syesha Mercado, and next to last is Jason Castro. (Why is he still on the show?)

You can vote, and see results at

George Clooney's Charm

I'm not the only guy who thinks that George Clooney is one of the nicest guys in the world. Check out this huge (10 pages!) George Clooney profile from the New Yorker. It's the most comprehensive piece on Clooney I think I've ever read.

Writer Ian Parker got rare access to Clooney's Hollywood Hills home in the company of girlfriend Sarah Larson, and to Clooney's Warner Bros. lot office next to Clint Eastwood's. Enjoy!

If you missed it, here's my take on Clooney -- whom I've known since 1985, when he was on "The Facts of Life" -- from his "Leatherheads" premiere in Maysville:

Here's the IMDB link to Clooney's next film, "Burn After Reading," with Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton. It's written and directed by the Coen brothers. The comedy-drama opens Sept. 12.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maupin Funeral Pre-Empts Sports

Some viewers won’t be happy, but local TV stations are doing the right thing by pre-empting the NBA playoffs, PGA golf and possibly part of the NHL playoffs to broadcast Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin's funeral 1-2 p.m. Sunday from Great American Ball Park. You expect local news stations to cover the big story, and certainly the Maupin capture and the Colerain firefighters funerals are very big stories.

The good news is that the stations have found alternative outlets for the Cleveland-Washington NBA playoff game and Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament. The toughest decision had to be at WXIX-TV (Channel 19), which has opted to broadcast the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway at 1:30 p.m. and stream the funeral online.

Here are the funeral coverage plans:

Saturday morning: Channels 5, 9 and 12 will cover the arrival of Maupin’s body at Lunken Airport.

Channel 5: Live funeral coverage on TV and web. Will join 2 p.m. Detroit-Colorado NHL playoff game in progress.
Channel 9: Live funeral coverage on TV and web. First game of ABC’s NBA doubleheader, Cleveland-Washington at 12:30 p.m., will air in its entirety on Channel 64. ABC's second NBA game, San Antonio-Phoenix at 3:30 p.m., will air entirely on Channel 9.
Channel 12: Live funeral coverage on TV and web. Final round of Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf tournament from Savannah, Ga., airs 1-3 p.m. completely on sister CinCW digital station.
Channel 19: Funeral video on web.

If you ran Ch 19, would you have blown off Talladega for live funeral coverage?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Carmen Electra, Kings Island Star

Carmen Electra -- known as Tara Patrick at SCPA and Princeton High School -- recalls her days working at Kings Island on a blog. Carmen turned 36 on Sunday, the day Kings Island opened for the season.

Here's the link:

Wonder how disappointed she'll be to hear the new owners aren't running one of the Racers backward. Wonder how many complaints KI will get. Could they recapitulate by July 4? Memorial Day?

Britten Kelley's TV Deal

Voting is open now for Britten Kelley, a School for Creative & Peforming Arts School graduate wanting to be the next "Deal or No Deal" model.

The former Cincinnati resident is one 24 models up the position. Viewers will select the winner by text messages or online voting at

Kelley is one of three models appearing on tonight’s show (8-10 p.m., Channels 5, 2), when the 10-week contest begins. However, voting for the three women opened about 1 a.m. today. Voting closes at 1 a.m. Tuesday, when the West Coast broadcast ends, according to rules at NBC's website.

For the next eight episodes, three potential models will be competing to advance to the semi-finals. First round winners will be posted at by noon the next day.
The eight winners – and one "wild card" contestant who had been previously eliminated – will vie for a spot in the finals. The three finalists appear on the June 24 show, with the winner announced on June 25.

After graduating from SCPA, Kelley earned a BA degree in theater and communication from the University of Southern California. She has appeared in Seventeen, Cosmo Girl and Best Body magazines. Her movie credits include "Epic Movie," "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," "Identify Theft" and "Lovers & Haters."

Her Cincinnati stage credits include "Pippin," "Romeo & Juliet," "Sola" and "Tartuffe."
See her NBC photo gallery at:

Visit her website and see more pictures:

See her IMDB credits:

Did anyone know here at SCPA? Or know much about her?

WMUB Looks At Immigration Issues

Miami Univerrsity students look at "Immigration in Southwest Ohio" this week with special reports on WMUB-FM (88.5) during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered."

Ten Miami seniors produced the series as a class project in a collaboration between the station and Miami's journalism program.

Part one tells listeners about the challenges facing graduating high school seniors who speak English as a second language. Part two covers the challenges of undocumented workers on their path to citizenship. Part three examines the Butler County Sheriff's Office immigration enforcement powers.

The stories will air Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5:34 a.m., 7:34 a.m. and 5:44 p.m. They will can be heard online at

Friday, April 18, 2008

John Edwards on Colbert -- Brilliant!

Did you see John Edwards on "The Colbert Report" Thursday? Instead of Colbert doing a "Word" definition segment, Edwards delivered "Ed-Words" about being courted by Obama and Clinton for his endorsement. It was a brilliantly written satire delivered flawlessly by Edwards. Terrific comedy! Enjoy!

40 Years Of Channel 5

Former Channel 5 reporter Michael Collins saw my stuff on the 60th anniversary of WLWT-TV, and sent me a youtube link to his 1988 piece for the 40th anniversary.

It has wonderful clips of Peter Grant, Ruth Lyons, Paul Dixon, Midwestern Hayride and old B&W shows, plus interviews with former anchorman Tom Atkins, sportscaster Red Thornburgh, bandleader Cliff Lash and Nick Clooney. "The First 40 Years (1988)" runs 4 minutes and 43 seconds. Enjoy!


WCIN-AM has been sold. Robert Cox of St. Louis, the receiver appointed over J4 Broadcasting assets by a Cincinnati federal court last year, has sold the station to American Broadcasting LLC, a Denver-based private equity firm.

The station had been in receivership for 17 months when Cox took over last May and changed the format to smooth jazz.

Founded in 1953, WCIN-AM was the city's heritage African-American station until WDBZ-AM (1230, The Buzz) signed on in 2000.

Here's the listing from Radio & Records:

PRICE: Undisclosed
TERMS: Terms unavailable
BUYER: American Broadcasting LLC, headed by President Randall Dietrich. It owns no other stations. This represents its entry into this market.
SELLER: J4 Broadcasting Company Incorporated, headed by Successor Receiver Robert Cox. FREQUENCY: 1480 kHz
POWER: 5kw day/500 watts night
FORMAT: smooth jazz
COMMENT: Robert L. Cox, Successor Receiver for the assets of J4 Broadcasting Company Inc's WCIN-AM/Cincinnati, Ohio, to American Broadcasting for an undisclosed price.

Can you help my list past WCIN employees and formats? (Remember when it briefly went all classical music under former Channel 5 anchor Ken McDowell in the late 1980s?)

For starters:
Lincoln Ware
Sports anchor Bill Meredith
Everett Cork
Fredd E. Redd
Maxcine Hardwick
Jazzman Wilbert Longmire

Channel 64 Losing News -- Again

Will a 10 p.m. newscast be a ratings salvation for the digital CinCW?

WKRC-TV is pulling its 10 p.m. newscast off WSTR-TV (Channel 64) in August, and moving it to the CinCW, its sister digital signal.

"It made more financial sense for us to do the news on our own station than to have it air on a competitor down the street," says Les Vann, Channel 12 vice president and general manager. The decision was made before Newport Television acquired Channel 12 and 55 other Clear Channel TV stations in March, and before Vann started April 7 at Channel 12 and the CinCW.

The Cammy Dierking-Dave Burchell newscast debuted in August 2006 on Channel 64. That was six months after Channel 64, owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, pulled the plug on its low-rated hybrid local/national "NewsCentral" 10 p.m. news. Channel 64 again will air syndicated shows when the newscast goes away in August.

Channel 64's 10 p.m. news averaged a 2.8 rating (25,320 homes) and 4 percent audience share in February, up from a 2.4 rating and 3 percent share in February 2007. (Fox affiliate WXIX-TV averaged a 7.8 rating and 13 percent audience share for its one-hour 10 p.m. news in February.)
The CinCW digital station – seen mostly on cable here – averaged a mere 0.5 rating (4,522 homes) and 1 percent share for the "TMZ" tabloid magazine at 10 p.m. in February.

If viewers make the switch from Channel 64 to the CinCW, the 10 p.m. news could be one of the highest-rated shows on the digital station. The CinCW's most popular show outside prime-time in February was "Two And A Half Men," with a 1.7 rating at 7:30 p.m. But that’s a big if. There's no guarantee viewers will change channels, based on Channel 12's experience moving its 7-8 a.m. "Good Morning Cincinnati" newscast to the CinCW in January when CBS ordered the station to air its full "Early Show." Ratings for "Good Morning Cincinnati" fell off the table in February, from a 7.0 on Channel 12 (6-7 a.m.) to a 0.7 on CinCW (7-8 a.m.). Ouch!

However, many more homes here will be able to get the CinCW over-the-air with converter boxes after the nationwide switch from analog to digital TV next February. We'll see what happens then.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Michael Moely Leaving Channel 5

Reporter Michael Moely is leaving Channel 5 to be an anchor at a Myrtle Beach TV station not yet on the air.

Moely leaves May 2 for WMBF-TV, Raycom Media's new NBC affiliate (Channel 32) in Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C. The all-digital station plans to sign on Aug. 8 (8-8-08), in conjunction with NBC's Summer Olympics opening ceremonies, says the station's website. (Like the CinCW here, it will be available to HDTV and digital TV owners, and to analog TV owners with the new digital converter boxes.)

Moely, hired two years ago by Channel 5, will be working for News Director Matt Miller, who resigned as Channel 9 assistant news director in January to assemble the Myrtle Beach TV news team.

Moely had done some fill-in anchoring at Channel 5. Before coming here, he was weekend anchor and reporter at the Indianapolis Fox station. The South Bend native also has worked for stations in Grand Rapids, West Lafayette and his hometown.

Jerry Springer's American Life

Back in the late 1990s, when Jerry Springer's talk show first beat Oprah Winfrey in the ratings, my fellow TV critics would look at me like I had three eyes when I'd say that Springer once was a brilliant writer and an effective, passionate politician.

Those who remember Springer the charismatic young Cincinnati City Councilman, and his eloquent commentaries as a Channel 5 news anchor – or those have only heard about what a totally different person he was in Cincinnati for two decades, before becoming the trash TV king -- should listen to Ira Glass's "This American Life" from last Sunday (4 p.m., WVXU).

Half of the one-hour show (the first half) is a terrific, comprehensive piece about Springer. ("This American Life" producer Alex Blumberg, a Cincinnati native, called me last spring asking for resources for the piece.) "TAL" interviewed Jene Galvin, Patricia Garry, Tim Burke, Guy Guckenberg and political strategist Mike Ford for the story. It includes 1970 audio from his first Cincinnati campaign (for Congress) in which he sounds like Robert Kennedy; a WEBN-FM spoof ad for the "American Expense" card (referring to the check he wrote to a hooker in 1974); and 2003 audio from his speeches to Ohio Democratic Party leaders as he was testing the waters about returning to politics by running for the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio.

The story points out that most people outside Cincinanti get the Springer chronology wrong. They think he lost his job as mayor because of the prostitute, then started the daytime trash TV show. We know he was elected mayor (1977) after resigning over the prostitute situation (1974), then became news anchor/commentator (1982-93), and didn’t start his TV show until 1991, 15 years after he was mayor.

There are some great quotes in the story. Ford explains that Springer was very serious about re-entering politics in 2003, but couldn't get out of his TV contract. Ford, who has worked for Clinton, Carter and Teddy Kennedy campaigns, says Springer the politician was "the best I've ever seen – bar none." And it includes Springer's recounting of coming to America as a 5-year-old in 1949, and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time – which was his Fourth of July commentary on Channel 5 for years.

Springer is interviewed at the end of the piece. He rationalizes his TV show by explaining he's just playing a character, as he has for years. Patricia Garry calls Springer's life a Greek tragedy, noting that he ended up "being the joker, instead of the king."

Blumberg clearly was moved by Springer's passion for politics, and his Statue of Liberty story. He concludes: "Wouldn’t it be funny if what the world really needs is more Jerry Springers?"

Two more "This American Life" notes:
--Fans can watch a live closed-circuit telecast of a live show from New York, "This American Life - Live" at two area movies theaters at 8 p.m. on May 1 -- the Springdale Showcase and the Regal Theaters at Deerfield Town Center. You can order tickets at

--"This American Life" returns for a second season on Showtime at 10 p.m. Sunday, May 4.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WUBE Wins National Recognition

Congratulations to WUBE-FM (105.1) which won a National Association of Broadcasters' Crystal Award for outstanding year-round commitment to community service.

Country B105 was one of 10 stations – from 50 nominees – presented the award at the NAB Radio Show in Las Vegas.

Bonneville's WKRQ-FM (101.9, or Q102) was among the nominees announced in March.

Here's the NAB release listing the 10 winners:

Was Sunday's Reds Game In HDTV?

Several of you have asked why Sunday's Reds-Pirates game from Pittsburgh was not in HDTV, as scheduled by Fox Sports Net Ohio, and if it was a Time Warner problem.

So here's the answer to the question from Steve Pawlowski, FSNO spokesman in Cleveland -- though I'm not sure I understand it. (Maybe one of the TV engineers who read this blog can explain it to us):

Pawlowski says: "Here's the deal... We DID do the game in HD, however, due to a technical problem, it was broadcast in 4:3 ratio instead of 16:9."

FSNO's next HDTV game is 1:10 p.m. Saturday, Reds-Brewers at GABP. The HD games are noted on the schedule at

Monroe Boy On "Oprah" Monday

Drew Friend, the 5-year-old boy Monroe boy who gave away his birthday gifts last Sunday, will be on the "Oprah Winfrey" show Monday (4 p.m., Channels 9, 2).

A crew from Oprah's Harpo Productions filmed Drew giving away gifts last Sunday for a show about people inspired by Winfrey’s "Oprah’s Big Give" reality show on ABC. With the help of Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church members in Liberty Township, the boy gathered enough toys, gift cards, clothes, and furniture to five families.

Here's our Monday story:

Here's the Drew's Big Give site, with info on how you can still donate. His mom, Shannon Friend, has decided to continue the charity as long as people donate money or items:

The show will air live from Chicago with others who did "inspiring big gives from the around the country," says Don Halcombe, Winfrey spokesman. The rare live "Oprah" show also will feature the three finalists from the "Oprah’s Big Give" season finale Sunday (8-9 p.m., Channels 9, 22).

The eight-week reality series ends with the three contestants creating "Big Gives" with no money and very little time. If you haven’t been following the show – and I dropped out after the first 2-3 episodes -- the three finalists are:
--Brandi, 23, a pageant queen from Sierra Vista, AZ
--Cameron, 22, entrepreneur and dot-com millionaire from Roanoke, VA
--Stephen, 43, a contractor from Bedford, NY

ABC says: "Jennifer Aniston makes a special appearance and delivers big news. Who will win and be named Oprah's Biggest Giver? A last unexpected twist makes for a series conclusion that will have everyone talking."

I'm guessing Oprah will give substantial amounts to all three finalists. (Before the premiere, ABC said Oprah would give $1 million to the biggest giver.) From the ratings, it's clear that I'm not the only one who stopped watching. (For me, the running around to arrange all the big gives was too much like "The Apprentice" tasks.) Her show drew 3.1 million last Sunday, down from the 3.9-million season average. But it ranks No. 31 for the year, so I'm also guessing it will be back next season.

Did you watch? Did you enjoy? And isn't it nice to see some positive national attention for Drew, his family, and all who gave to his cause?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Local Songwriters Are "American Idol" Finalists

More than a year ago, Jason Phelps and Mendy Shaw wrote a song called "Stronger," inspired by the difficulty in breaking into the music business. Now "Stronger" could be their big break.

"Stronger" is one of 20 finalists in the "American Idol" songwriting competition. It was chosen from "thousands" of online entries, though "Idol" publicists won’t say exactly how many.

Shaw, a 1987 Little Miami High School graduate from Lebanon, and Phelps, a 1991 Sycamore High School graduate and Blue Ash native, have been collaborating for about six years. You might recognize Phelps from his days as the WLW-AM production director (1998-2002), or as the singer for Pay The Girl (had a Billboard top 20 hit with "Freeze" played heavily on Q102), or as a solo act in clubs around town. Two years ago, he moved to Atlanta to become music director for the Clear Channel creative services group. Shaw's full-time job is selling pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, they need your support to win the contest. Here’s what you need to know:
--It's not a quick process.
--You can vote just once per email address at
--You have to register first, then be sent an email by Fox to be able to vote.
--You're not just voting for one song. You're rating the songs (1-10), with 10 the highest rating.
--You must listen to at least 20 seconds of a song before you rate it.
--You won't see the names of Jason Phelps, Mendy Shaw or any of the composers. You'll just see song titles. (Remember: "Stronger!")

Online voting closes April 23. The winning song will be performed by the two "American Idol" finalists on Tuesday, May 20, the last night of competition, and again by the winner on Wednesday, May 21. Last year over 2 million online votes were cast for "This Is My Now," written by Jeff Peadoby and Scott Krippayne. It was the first hit on Jordin Sparks' debut album.

Shaw isn’t quitting her day job just yet.

"You try not to get too excited in case nothing happens," says Shaw, who has made frequent trips to Nashville to pitch and record her songs. "You try a lot of things to get your foot in the door. I've been really close at times to getting my song on a record, and close to a record contract. We feel very fortunate to be chosen for the top 20, because there are a lot of great songs out there. If this is all that happens, that's OK too."

Guiding Light Stars Shine On Cincinnati

Caitlin Van-Zandt and John Driscoll from the "Guiding Light" -- a Procter & Gamble production airing on CBS for 70 years -- will be here Friday to promote volunteerism and meet fans on Fountain Square at noon.

Van-Zandt, who plays Ashlee Wolfe, and Driscoll, who plays Henry "Coop" Bradshaw," will start their day Friday planting trees in Laurel Park in the West End 8-11 a.m. They'll be joined by Mayor Mark Mallory, P&G employees and Cincinnati Parks Foundation trustees. The TV stars are coming here as part of the show's "Find Your Light" program, in which cast members volunteer at events across the country.

At noon, the "Guiding Light" duo will be at the P&G/ Volunteer Fair on Fountain Square. At the fair, which starts at 10 a.m., information will be distributed by many local groups: March of Dimes, Dress for Success, the Reds Community Fund, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Give Back Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, YMCA, United Way and others.

"Guiding Light" is the longest-runnig show in broadcasting history. It began on radio in 1937, and moved to TV in 1952 (3 p.m. weekdays on Ch 12 and 7).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

60 Years Of Television

All the TV stations look alike these days, with their syndicated shows and local newscasts. That wasn't the case when TV started, which made researching the 60th anniversary of Cincinnati television for my Sunday story so much fun.

For starters, there was only one TV station on the air in 1948 – Crosley Broadcasting's WLWT-TV – thanks to Crosley's engineering resources and huge entertainment staff at WLW-AM, "The Nation's Station." WLWT (originally Channel 4) was on the air for more than a year before WKRC-TV arrived on April 4, 1949, and WCPO-TV began on July 26, 1949.

By the time the other guys got on the air, WLWT already had broadcast the first Reds game, UC football game, variety show, weather forecast, religious service, boxing, wrestling, and pro basketball game (the Harlem Globetrotters from Music Hall). In fact, all of those first were done as experimental W8XCT, before WLWT began commercial broadcasting on Feb. 9, 1948.

So why celebrate the anniversary now? Because Channel 5 managers are choosing to celebrate the week of April 14, the 60th anniversary of becoming NBC's second affiliate (after WNBC-TV in New York). by the way, it's also the 60th anniversary week for the premiere of the old "Midwestern Hayride" country show (1948-72), which aired as a NBC summer replacement show the 50s, and the 60th anniversary of the first Reds Opening Day telecast.

For today's Channel 5 folks, becoming a NBC affiliate was a big deal. But here's what I found interesting: It took 18 more months to get live network TV feeds here! WLWT ran kinescopes – films made of TV broadcasts -- until the network coaxial cable reached here in September 1949. To celebrate the arrival of live network programming here, NBC broadcast a special with NBC stars from NY called "NBC Salutes WLW-Television" on Sept. 5, 1949.

With my stories you'll see two photo galleries, one for old WLWT shows and another for famous WLWT personalities (from Bonnie Lou to Bill Hemmer). Click on the photo links on the story. (Can anyone identify the names of the three Lucky Pennies musicians in the "Midwestern Hayride" photo with Dean and Penny Richards? Or anyone in the Betty Clooney photo with studio orchestra from Mount Olympus?)

My list of famous faces from 5 ran much longer. Here are some others, and maybe you can add some more:

Bob Trumpy, did his first TV for Ch 5 sports.
Clyde Gray, did two stints at Ch 5 (1979-83; 1985-90) before going to Ch 9.
Rob Braun, interned there in 1984, but not hired because his father was working at station hosting noon "Bob Braun Show." (Where would Ch 5 be if they had him today?)
Chris Cimino, was a 1995 weatherman. Now at WNBC, and a frequent "Today" show weather fill-in. (I saw him Saturday morning).
J.D. Hayworth, former Arizona congressman was a Ch 5 weekend sports anchor in late 1980s.
Pat Barry, was a Q102 DJ hired as main weather anchor in early 1980s.
Gene Randall, former CNN anchor, was anchor here in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He anchored Ch 5's special for the Riverfront Stadium opening in 1970.
Steve Physioc, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim TV play-by-play announcer did Reds TV on 1986 with Marty and Joe.
Tom Hume, former Reds pitcher, was Reds color analyst in 1990 before becoming a Reds coach.
Andy Furman was a Channel 5 sports reporter/producer before going to WLW-AM full-time.
Toria Tolley Hammill anchored here before going to CNN.
Steve Hortsmeyer was hired by Tony Sands for the Ch 5 weather department in 1977.
Steve Raleigh did news and weather on Ch 5 1986-88, then came back to town in 2005 for Ch 9.
Didn't "Today" show reporter Jack Lescoulie do an afternoon show on Ch 5 in the '60s?
Wally Phillips was on WLW TV and radio before going to WGN.

Can you think of others?

Friday, April 11, 2008

ESPN Shooting Cincinnati Rollergirls

A crew from ESPN's "SportsCenter" will be shooting the Cincinnati Rollergirls home opener against the Fort Wayne Derby Girls Saturday night at Cincinnati Gardens.

But before then, ESPN will be shooting at The Enquirer this afternoon – like right across from my desk. They're interviewing Lauren Bishop, a really cool features reporter and our Roller Derby Diva blogger, who skates on the team as Miss Print. ESPN found her through her blog.

Lauren has been busy cleaning up her desk to make it look presentable. Hopefully they'll ignore my mess just over the cubicle wall.

ESPN has shot other all-female roller derby leagues in Minneapolis, Austin, Houston and Phoenix, she says. The story likely will air sometime this spring or summer. Stay tuned.

No More Local TV Sports? Really?

So which local TV station is talking about dropping sports from the TV news?

People have been called by a public opinion survery company and asked: How would you feel if your local news station got rid of sports on its newscasts?

If they call me, I'd tell them that TV sports news is one of the reasons I watch local TV news. And I'd suggest that the local TV stations cut the weather to give me more news -- but don't drop sports.

What station could be conducting the poll? Some thoughts:

Channel 5: A third-place newscast could do something radically different to try to attract viewers/ratings. (Like having two women as co-anchors.) They could promote having more news. On the other hand, Ch 5 has NBC's popular Sunday night NFL games and the Olympics, plus a big promotional investment in the High School Playbook preps coverage and Sunday night "Sports Rock" talk show.

Channel 9: Despite the ESPN-ABC marriage, the ABC network doesn't have a lot of high-profile sports after losing football bowl games to Fox and moving Monday Night Football to ESPN. Yes, you might watch college football on Saturday nights. But what will you be watching Sunday afternoon -- the NBA doubleheader on Ch 9, or the Masters on CBS? On the other hand, Ch 9 has the two most experienced sports reporters in town, Dennis Janson and gifted storyteller John Popovich, and the longest-running local TV sports show, Popo's "Sports of All Sorts" on Sunday night. (Remember that Ch 9 cut the sports staff last summer, when Lisa Cornwell was moved to the morning news.)

Channel 12: Maybe a budget cut/new philosophy of the new owners, Newport Television, which bought the Clear Channel TV stations last month? But Ch 12 has CBS' NFL games (including most of the Bengals games), NCAA basketball March Madness, the Masters, etc., plus the Bengals exhibition games, "Bengals Nation" programs and Sunday night "Sports Authority" show.

Channel 19: Could Ch 19 be thinking of dropping weekend "Sports Wrap" show to do more news? That would be a surprise, with Fox heavily invested in the NFL, weekly baseball, the World Series and All-Star game, but anything could happen.

If a TV station dropped sports, would you be unhappy and switch stations? Or would you like having more news and no sports?
And which station do you think could be considering pulling the plug on local sports?

Letterman Auditions Saturday

If you're going to audition for David Letterman's "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment at the Everything Pets expo Saturday at the Duke Energy Center downtown, here's what you need to know:

--Arrive early. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Duke Energy Center loading dock on Sixth Street, and ends at 3:30 p.m. (The expo opens at 10 a.m.). Each eligible participant will receive four free tickets to the expo after an audition number is assigned at the loading dock. Auditions are scheduled noon-4 p.m.
Ryan Williams, “Late Show” talent assistant, expects 30 to 50 auditions. But 200 came to audition once at a similar pet expo in Salt Lake City, he says.
Pet owners must be 18 or older to audition.

--Your chances at fame: Williams won't say how many people could win a free trip to New York to perform on Dave's show. "That depends on the quantity and quality of the people who show up," he says.

--Be smart. Remember that Letterman has been airing "Stupid Pet Tricks" for 25 years. Williams says: “We want to see what we haven’t seen before. If your pet does a trick, then do it in an interesting way." And don't try anything too risky. "The trick has to be safe for the pet involved, and the person involved," he says.

--Be prepared. Read the rules, registration information and release form in advance at Also be advised that you'll only have three minutes or less to showcase your "Stupid Pet Trick.”

It will be interesting to see how many people audition -- and what kind of TV coverage it gets. The official TV sponsor is Channel 5 -- not Channel 12 which broadcasts CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman." Whoops. You might have to watch Channel 12 Saturday night to see some of the auditions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Early Start For American Idol Tonight

Just wanted you to know that Fox's "Idol Gives Back" special tonight will start at an usual time -- 7:30 p.m. (Channels 19, 45) -- instead of the normal 8 p.m. "American Idol" time. The concert, taped Sunday in Los Angeles, airs 7:30-10 p.m.

Performing on the show are Mariah Carey, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Gloria Estefan, Snoop Dogg, Sheila E, Fergie, Heart and the "American Idol" finalists. Brad Pitt, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, and Peyton and Eli Manning also are on the show. Barak Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Jim Carrey, Kiefer Sutherland, Ellen DeGeneres and Whoopi Goldberg appear in taped segments.

The goal for this year's telecast is to rasie $100 million for a variety of charities. The first "Idol Gives Back" last year raised $76 million.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Reds in HDTV Tonight

Some of you have been asking when the Reds will be in HD on Fox Sports Net Ohio, so here it is: Tonight. The Reds-Brewers from Milwaukee at 8 p.m. today is the first of 71 FSNO games in HD.

Other upcoming HD Reds games:
Sunday 4/13, 1:30 p.m., at Pittsburgh.
Saturday, 4/19: 1 p.m. Brewers at GABP.
Monday-Tuesday, 4/21-4/22, 7 p.m., LA Dodgers at GABP.

FSNO will do standard definition broadcasts of the Reds-Brewers 8 p.m. Wednesday, and 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday from Pittsburgh.

FSNO says the Reds HD schedule can't be found easily on a website. And I've had no luck posting it on this blog in its current format. But the Reds schedule on the Reds website tells you if the game tells you if the game is on "FSN-HD." Here's the link:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Farewell Becky Freemal

Add another name to the growing list of TV folks leaving town: Becky Freemal, WCPO "Good Morning Tristate" reporter, joins the list with Dave Wagner, Richard Jordan, Lisa Cornwell, Pete Scalia and Sasha Rionda.

Freemal, Channel 9's morning news general assignment reporter, is the second "Good Morning Tristate" on-air person to quit for an anchor job in another market. The Cincinnati native, who had worked for Channel 9 for three years, leaves today to become a morning anchor at Fox's WFXR-TV in Roanoke, Va. Before coming here in 2005, the Ohio University graduate worked for WKRC-TV, TKR Cable (now Insight) in Northern Kentucky; WNNE-TV in White River Junction, Vt.; KMID-TV in Midland, Texas; KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas; and WBAY-TV in Green Bay.

Cornwell, Channel 9’s morning "Breaking News Center" anchor, left last month to become a morning anchor at NBC’s WBIR-TV in Knoxville. The Arkansas native got out of her three-year contract a year early, after she was moved from weekend sports anchor to morning breaking news reporter in September.

All the recent morning news changes could make May sweeps very intersting. In the past year Channel 9 has lost David Rose, Cornwell and Freemal. Top-rated Channel 12 lost meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer, a 19-year morning fixture (making Channel 9's Larry Handley the most tenured morning forecaster). Channel 19 has changed meteorologists several times since Rich Apuzzo was fired 18 months ago. And Channel 5 switched anchors in October, then lost traffic guy Pete Scalia to Dayton's Channel 22 last month.

It will be interesting to see how all these changes impact viewers habits.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dave Wagner Dropping Anchor in North Carolina

Dave Wagner leaving Channel 5 to anchor in Charlotte, N.C., comes as no surprise. I didn't expect him to stay around for long after losing his 11 p.m. WLWT-TV anchor job two years ago.

Not only is he moving on, but he's moving up. Wagner will co-anchor the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. news at NBC affiliate WCNC-TV in Charlotte, the nation's No. 25 TV market. Cincinnati is No. 33.

Here's the WCNC-TV announcement:

Wagner came to Channel 5 in September, 1999, from Tampa, Fla., to replace anchor Charlie Luken, who had resigned in June after six years to run for Cincinnati City Council. Wagner has co-anchored here with Norma Rashid, Anne Marie Tiernon and Sandra Ali.

Two years ago, Wagner returned to investigative reporting when Ali and Sheree Paolello became the city's first all-female co-anchor team at 11 p.m.

In 2005, Wagner and Ali had the station's best 11 p.m. news ratings since Jerry Springer and Rashid co-anchored in 1992, when Springer was doing both news and his syndicated daytime talk show. The Wagner-Ali team was second at 11 p.m. behind WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in May 2005.

Wagner has won 32 Regional Emmy Awards, four regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and numerous honors from the Associated Press and Society for Professional Journalists. He also is currently directing a documentary on the world's only known identical twin savant sisters. The documentary is scheduled to air this fall on the Discovery Network and Great Britain’s Channel 5, according to the WCNC-TV announcement today.

Wagner was born in Marion, Ohio, and grew up in Columbus and Dayton. He worked for stations in Lexington, Columbus, Milwaukee and Tampa. He had spent 12 years at Tampa’s WTSP-TV before coming to Channel 5.

He also has done some acting, appearing as a sportscaster in Adam Sandler's "The Waterboy" and as a newscaster on HBO's "From The Earth To The Moon."

Tim Hedrick Science Show Repeats Friday

Updated 10:30 a.m. Weds 4/2: If you watched Tim Hedrick's "Science Spectacular" last night, you saw that the audio was out of sync with the video for the first segment. So Channel 12 will repeat the special at 7 p.m. Friday. It's a fun half-hour. Too bad we don't have more local specials on TV here...

Here's what I wrote before it aired Tuesday:

Tim Hedrick continues his quest to make science fun for kids of all ages with 12 experiments they can do at home on his "Doppler Tim’s Science Spectacular" today at 7 p.m. (Channel 12).

Hedrick, Channel 12's chief meteorologist since 1988, will be joined by musician Bootsy Collins, Police Chief Tom Streicher, chef Jean-Robert de Cavel and Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard.

"I have done about three dozen experiments during newscasts and have taken some of the best experiments that kids can do at home for this half-hour special. All of the footage is new. I present 12 experiments with a few variations and one project (a hovercraft) that kids can make at home," he says.

"The pace is fast and fun. It is geared for the family. My guests help with the infamous Coke/Mentos experiment in familiar Cincinnati surroundings. (i.e. the District 1 police station, the Zoo, Fountain Square, the sidewalk in front of Pigals.) I wrote the special. Jenny Overholts has helped produce, and magician/editor Mark did the editing," he says.

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