Michael Monks brings a broad range of experience to WVXU-FM as the new host of Cincinnati Edition, Cincinnati Public Radio's weekday news and information talk show.
He's the publisher/editor/chief reporter for Northern Kentucky's River City News website who spends his weeknights covering city government or school board meetings.
Until 10 days ago, he also was the news director, morning newscaster and Sunday public affairs program host for country stations WNKR-FM in Dry Ridge, Ky., and WNKN-FM in Middletown, Oh.; and teaching speech classes four days at week at Ivy Tech Community College in Lawrenceburg, Ind.
The enterprising 38-year-old Covington native also has produced and written WXIX-TV newscasts; reported and anchored news for WLW-AM; moderated forums on Northern Kentucky issues; and appeared in community theater productions. He's looking forward to concentrating on just one job: hosting Cincinnati Edition 1-2 p.m. weekdays starting Feb. 4.
"I love the intimacy of conversations on the radio. There's nothing to distract you. No visual pop-ups, no breaking news banners," says Monks, a loyal NPR listener while commuting to his jobs in Dry Ridge and Lawrenceburg, or unwinding on weekends. He's a big fan of Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon and Fresh Air host Terry Gross.
"I like the challenge it presents. I like the creativity required on how to tell a story. You have to be smart. You have to be on it. You have to be prepared."
Monks has been heard on Cincinnati Edition Friday news roundup shows talking about Northern Kentucky stories. He has been covering Northern Kentucky news since age 15, when he hosted and produced Clover Meadows Wrap-Up about his Covington subdivision for a cable TV public access channel. He also was "the morning news guy" for Scott High School announcements his sophomore, junior and senior years (1996-98).
His River City News site regularly covers Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Erlanger, Edgewood, Florence, Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright, Ludlow, Taylor Mill and the Kenton and Campbell counties fiscal courts.
But he's not just a Northern Kentucky newsman.
For Fox 19, he produced morning news for Sheila Gray and Rob Williams and evening newscasts for Tricia Macke and Jack Atherton which, of course, covered events throughout Cincinnati and the region. At WNKR-FM/WNKN-FM, he did separate newscasts for listeners in Butler and Warren counties, and in Northern Kentucky, four times every morning. Four times a week, he drove to Lawrenceburg to teach.
"We call this the Tri-State," he says. "I have a broad range of knowledge in about every corner of the map. I know who the Cincinnati players are because I read the news."
Monks' debut has been delayed until February to give him two months to find a reporter-editor and possibly a business manager for his River City News site. As the only full-time employee, Monks covers meetings and events; writes stories; edits contributors; does podcasts; sells advertising; pays the bills; and cleans the office at 621 Madison Ave. He will continue as publisher and owner.
"I'll still own it, and still be the publisher. This is too important to me," he says. The site, which has been profitable last year and this year, generates 100,000 unique monthly users, he says. It also has 25,000 Facebook followers.
"I've been chasing stories all day long," Monk says. "Going to WVXU will allow me to catch my breath, and to focus on one single thing instead of so many different things. In order to make Cincinnati Edition what I know we can make it, it required a full-time effort."
Editor's note: John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. This content has not been edited by Cincinnati Public Radio.
Plus, learn more about Michael by checking out this fun Q&A we did with our new co-worker, like why you might see him on Wheel of Fortune one of these days...