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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

DVR Alert! Excellent 'Oyler: One School, One Year' Airs Monday

John Kiesewetter

Feb. 2, 2016 Update: If you missed the excellent "Oyler: One School, One Year" last night, it will repeat twice on WCET-TV: At 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 (Channel 48, CET).

Here’s what I love about public broadcasting: Only public TV will devote an hour to the impressive turn-around at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill, one of Cincinnati’s poorest and most challenged neighborhoods.

Baltimore-based reporter Amy Scott from public radio’s “Marketplace,” heard here on WVXU-FM, directed and wrote and produced this terrific documentary about the comprehensive team effort to break the cycle of poverty by improving test scores, attendance, self-esteem, and the health and dreams of students.

“Oyler: One School, One Year” (9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, Channel 48) is an inspiring look at the 2012-2013 school year, a showcase of what’s working in Cincinnati, and specifically in Cincinnati Public Schools. The school has received national attention for its one-stop in-school health clinic, day care center and other improvements in the school for students from first to 12th grades located at the west end of the Eighth Street viaduct. 

Credit Glenn Hartong
Oyler School

But the Cincinnati TV premiere of “Oyler” humanizes the story through the eyes of passionate principal Craig Hockenberry and students Raven Gribbins and Crystal Cornea, who could become the first in their families to attend college.

And here’s what I don’t like about public TV today, specifically Cincinnati’s WCET-TV. The nation’s No. 1 licensed public TV station no longer has the local staff to do a companion program updating the Oyler students, administrators or staff from this marvelous slice-of-life filmed three years ago.

If the station wasn’t run mostly out of Dayton, maybe someone here would have authorized and funded a postscript update – 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, a broadcast panel discussion, an in-studio town meeting. Something. 

Credit Provided by Amy Scott
Director-writer-producer Amy Scott

Scott first visited Oyler in 2012, and produced an award-winning 10-part “Marketplace” series also called “Oyler: One School, One Year” for American Public Radio’s “Marketplace” (6:30 p.m. weekdays on WVXU). She made 10 more trips here to film the documentary, which was first screened at Mount St. Joseph University last May.

You might remember that Scott also talked about “Oyler” on WVXU’s “Cincinnati Edition” last May with Hockenberry and Gribbins. Here’s a link to the 27-minute audio.

Scott packed interviews with 18 people into her powerful 56-minute film.  I’m going to let them tell the story:

Credit American Public Media
Raven Gribbins

Raven Gribbins: “I’m in the 12th grade and lived in Price Hill all my life. It’s been rough… Everybody would tell me I’ll never make it through high school, you’re going to have a baby by 16, so I’m glad to prove them wrong.”

Principal Craig Hockenberry: “I want to do something that’s much, much different than a lot of principals. I want the boards to come down off the houses. I want less crime. I want to start working on the neighborhoods, the streets… Almost every night there was a shooting, a rape, a drug overdose.”

Joe Saylor, Oyler teacher and girls basketball coach: “I worry about her (Raven). I worry about all of them (students). She’s the epitome of what all our ladies go through down here. One day she might have her drug-addicted aunt’s kids, taking care of them, and the next day she may be here playing basketball like a normal high school student in Any Town USA. What scares me is, if she gets an opportunity to go away to college, will she take it? Because you always feel like you are being pulled back in to your family drama.”

Jamie Lugger, Oyler resource coordinator: “If somebody needs something, the only thing they have to do is come to the school building. We have an early childcare wing. That makes our school for (ages) 0 to 5, and all the way up to the 12th grade.”

Credit American Public Media
Craig Hockenberry

Principal Craig Hockenberry: “We saw an ugly pattern developing (before high school classes were added). 85.9 percent that left here never made it to 10th grade.”

Mary Ronan, Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent: “I remember coming here when we only had two (high school) graduates at Oyler, and here I am six years later, and there are 50 names on the list. That’s really fabulous.”

Credit John Kiesewetter

Teacher-coach Joe Saylor: “I firmly believe that attacking the poverty is the most important thing we do.”

“Oyler: One School, One Year” airs 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, Channel 48.

The production team included former Enquirer photographer/videographer Glenn Hartong and local video producer-editor Stacy Doose.

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.