'Saving Union Terminal' Film Airing Sunday On WCPO-TV

Nov 9, 2018

For a generation of younger Cincinnatians, the old Union Terminal seems like the perfect place for a couple of museums, exhibition space and the Cincinnati Historical Society.

But it wasn't always that way.

Saving Union Terminal, (7 p.m. Sunday, Channel 9), a new documentary by Billy Miossi, looks back at the various phases of the 1933 Art Deco train station after passenger service declined in the 1960s.

The Union Terminal lobby in 2011.
Credit John Kiesewetter

After briefly housing a science center in 1968, the building in the late 1970s and 1980s was used as a shopping mall with a huge Loehmann's dress shop, movie theater (I saw Kentucky Fried Movie there), and comedy club before becoming home for the Natural History Museum, Children's Museum, Cincinnati Historical Society, Omnimax theater and a special exhibits space.  (I saw the Star Wars costumes there in 2017.)

I've been there for journalism banquets in the old dining room; for Blue Chip Community Access Media Awards in the old theater; for tours of the railroad museum in the old train yard observation room; and to catch Amtrak services to Chicago to see the Reds in Wrigley Field.

All this happened after much public debate on what to do with the building. Some folks wanted to put Cincinnati Public Schools' CAPE (Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education) High School there. In 1973, while Jerry Springer was serving on City Council, he recorded a song called "Save The Terminal."

"With firsthand accounts from the people behind each one of Union Terminal's transformations, this film follows the building's remarkable history and return to glory upon the completion of a $224-million 2-1/2 year restoration," says the WCPO-TV media release. (The latest official cost estimate is $228 million.) 

The film was written and produced by Miossi, director of original content for the Decades TV (seen here on WKRP TV's low-power Channel 20.2).

Union Terminal construction.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

"Making this documentary has been an experience full of discovering for me, not only of Union Terminal's unique history and one-of-a-kind purposeful design, but also of a building whose underdog legacy has always made it something to root for among Cincinnatians," says Mossi in the release.

He's a 2009 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and former  news producer at Dayton's WKEF-TV/WRGT-TV (Channels 22 and 45) from 2010 to 2013. He also wrote and produced Eye On The World: The Rise Of Walter Cronkite and the Evening News  which aired on Decades last year.

The Cincinnati Museum Center partnered with WCPO-TV to document the restoration from the beginning of the project.  The Scripps Howard Foundation provided a grant to pay for filmmaking.

Saving Union Terminal also will be streamed on WCPO-TV's Roku and Apple TV channels.

The Museum Center opens to the  public Saturday, Nov. 17. If you miss Sunday's telecast, the documentary will be screened in the Union Terminal's Scripps Howard Newsreel Theater at the end of November.