My Year In Review From A to Z
Another year down the tubes! Here's a look at 2017 TV/Media/Radio/Movies stories of 2017 from A to Z:
A is for abolishing the area's admired Adult Album Alternative (Triple A) station, WNKU-FM.
Northern Kentucky University in 2017 sold the campus flagship station and WNKE-FM in Portsmouth to religious broadcasters, and Middletown's powerful WNKN-FM (formerly WPFB-FM on 105.9) to the owner of Dry Ridge country station WKNR-FM.
B is for the Big One, which got a little smaller. WLW-AM let go egotistical afternoon co-host Tracy Jones in September as part of a national budget cut by cash-strapped iHeartMedia. In a May budget cut, iHeartMedia laid off longtime market president Chuck Fredrick and local programming vice president Bo Matthews. DJ Hodge was named market manager in October, but Matthews was never replaced.
And here's a story I'm keeping my eye on in 2018: Mason City Council in August approved a planned unit development for restaurants, offices and shops under WLW-AM's powerful 50,000-watt diamond-shaped tower on Tylersville Road. Is anyone else worried about the radiation and falling icicles? Stay tuned.
C Is for Carol Williams, who retired from WCPO-TV after 31 years of being on our side at Channel 9. Hired in 1986, she was one of the remaining few who worked with legendary anchor Al Schottelkotte. Meteorologist Jason Adams also left in July for a sister Scripps station in Tampa. Channel 9 added anchors Ryan Houston and Kristyn Hartman, and meteorologist Barak Shapiro this year.
D is Doris Day Day, declared Sept. 27 by Cincinnati City Council, and Doris Day Way, a "secondary name" for Walnut Streets between 6th & 7th Streets by the Aronoff Center, to honor Cincinnati's biggest star. Born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, she switched from dancing to singing after being injured in a nasty car-train collision in downtown Hamilton in 1937, at age 15. She started singing with Barney Rapp's orchestra and recorded "Day By Day," "Sentimental Journey," and hundreds of songs before starring in 39 films and two TV series. Day, 95, who lives in California, did not attend the council meeting.
E is for the ever evolving Enquirer. In 2017, it stopped publishing scores from the previous night's baseball, football or basketball games because of the early deadlines needed to truck the paper from a Columbus printing plant. Even results of a 4 p.m. Saturday Reds game didn't make the big Sunday paper. The shrinking paper also eliminated stock market tables; dropped the Op-Ed page on Tuesdays and Thursdays; lost editor Peter Bhatia to Gannett's sister Detroit Free Press; laid off its last staff arts writer (classical music critic Janelle Gelfand) three weeks before Music Hall reopened; and brought back Forest Park native Beryl Love as editor starting in January.
And oh yeah, now every byline says writers are part of the USA Today Network. Don't be surprised to see the Enquirer's Cincinnati red website change to Gannett's USA Today blue in 2018.
F is for 45 and finished. Marty Brennaman returns for his 45th season as Cincinnati Reds Radio's main play-by-play announcer in 2018. He'll share the booth with Fox Sports Ohio's Jim Day, who was named secondary radio play-by-play man in December. Day replaces Jim Kelch, who is finished with the Reds. He was not renewed after eight seasons, as the Reds prepare for Brennaman's eventual retirement. Kelch told the Enquirer that he was told the club was "going to go in another direction in setting up the person who was going to follow (Marty), and I was not that person."
Will 2018 be Marty's finale? Or will he return for a 46th season in 2019, the Reds' 150th anniversary season?
G is for goners: CBS' "Wisdom of the Crowd," "Me, Myself & I" with Bobby Moynihan, John Larroquette and Jaleel White, "The Odd Couple," "2 Broke Girls," "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," "The Great Indoors," "Training Day" and "Zoo"; ABC's "Imaginary Mary" created by Green Township native Patrick Osborne, Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing," "Dr. Ken," "The Real O'Neals"; NBC's "Grimm," "Chicago Justice," "Powerless," "Emerald City," "The Blacklist: Redemption" and "Aquarius"; Fox's "24: Legacy," "Pitch," "Prison Break," "Bones," "Son of Zorn," "Sleepy Hollow" and "Rosewood"; Netflix's "Chelsea"; and Nickelodeon's "School of Rock."
In 2018 we'll say goodbye to "Major Crimes" on Jan. 16 (TNT); "Scandal," "The Middle" (ABC), "New Girl" (Fox), "The Americans" (FX), "The Originals" (CW), "House of Cards" (Netflix), "Nashville" (CMT), "Portlandia" (IFC), "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" (HBO).
H is for Homer Simpson moving to the House of Mouse. On Dec. 14, the Walt Disney Co. announced a $52 billion purchase of most of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox entertainment and sports properties. If approved by federal regulators, Disney gets the Fox movie and TV studios and their shows; Fox Sports Ohio and 21 other regional sports networks (to become part of ESPN); the FX and National Geographic networks; 300-plus international channels; a 30 percent stake in Hulu; and 50 percent of the Star India satellite service. Fox keeps the Fox Broadcasting network, Fox Sports, Fox News and the Fox-owned TV stations, and Fox shareholders get about 25% of Disney. D'Oh!
I is for the TV icons who brought to life Mary Richards, Batman, Benson, Gomer Pyle, Keith Partridge, Mannix and other memorable characters. 2017 celebrity deaths include Mary Tyler Moore, Adam West, Robert Guillaume, Jim Nabors, David Cassidy, Mike Connors, Della Reese, Monty Hall, Erin Moran, Barbara Hale, John Hillerman, Judge Joseph Wapner, Dorothy Letterman Mengering (Dave's mom), Bill Paxton, Miguel Ferrer, John Hurt and Powers Booth.
J is for Jerry Lewis, Jose Jimenez (also known as Bill Dana) and the other legendary comedians who passed away this year: Insult king Don "Mr. Warmth" Rickles, civil rights activist Dick Gregory, and Shelley Berman.
K is for Kara Sewell, the talented Texan and WXIX-TV morning co-anchor who left in December after three years to co-anchor morning news in Dallas, a jump of 30 markets. Traffic reporter Denise Johnson also refused to sign a three-year extension and quit in August. She was replaced in December by Rebecca Smith.
L is for Live from New York, It's Luke Null! The 2008 Lakota East Grad became the first Greater Cincinnati native to join NBC's "Saturday Night Live" cast for the 43rd season which premiered in September. Hired as a "featured player," he learned comedy at iO Chicago (formerly "ImprovOlympic"), an improv theater and training center.
M is for Me Too. Allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse resulted in the firing/departure/suspension of movie producer Harvey Weinstein; "Today" show host Matt Lauer; Fox News host Bill O"Reilly; PBS host and "CBS News This Morning" anchor Charlie Rose; FX sitcom star Louis C.K; public radio's Garrison Keillor; "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey, "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor; "Wisdom of the Crowd" star Jeremy Piven; producer Russell Simmons; "The Chew" co-host Mario Batali; "Great American Baking Show" judge Johnny Iuzzini; PBS host Tavis Smiley; NFL Network analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor; and "SNL" comedian-turned-U.S. Senator Al Franken. And many others.
N is for maybe next time. "The Killing Of A Sacred Deer," which won a writing award at the Cannes Film Festival award in May for director Yorgos Lanthimos and writer Efthymis Filippou, was overlooked by the Golden Globe Award nominations in early December. Hopefully "Sacred Deer" - a psychological thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell which had a Cincinnati premiere Oct. 26 - will do better in the Academy Award nominations Jan. 23. (The 75th Golden Globe Awards air Sunday Jan. 7 on NBC. Jimmy Kimmell hosts the Academy Awards Sunday, March 4 on ABC.)
O is for The Old Man And The Gun, another movie which brought more famous stars to Greater Cincinnati. Robert Redford played an aging bank robber in the film, working with Danny Glover, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek and singer Tom Waits on locations from downtown Dayton to Latonia.
It was another busy year for Film Cincinnati: Emilio Estevez filmed "The Public" at the main public library downtown in February with Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, Gabrielle Union, Jenna Malone, Taylor Schilling and Jeffrey Wright. Bruce Willis returned in August to shoot "Reprisal," his second thriller here in two years. The only setback was the December release of John Travaolta's "Gotti," pushed back sometime next year.
P is for the many public radio passages: "Car Talk," in reruns since 2012, reached the end of the road in October. "All Things Considered" anchor Robert Siegel announced his retirement, effective Jan. 5. Mary Louise Kelly joins "ATC" hosts Audie Cornish and Ari Shapiro on Jan. 18, after Kelly McEvers step down to focus on her popular "Embedded” podcast. Chris Thile, who took over "A Prairie Home Companion" from Keillor last year, changed the name of the longtime Saturday night broadcast to "Live From Here" after Minnesota Public Radio fired Garrison Keillor for workplace misconduct.
Q is for Queen of Q102, Holly Morgan, who left the WKRQ-FM airwaves after 15 years in July. But she didn't go far. Q102's midday host moved down the hall to sister Hubbard station WREW-AM (Mix 94.9) to co-host mornings with Sandy McIlree. The shake-up came a week after Mix 94.9 jumped into the Top 5 in the monthly Nielsen radio station rankings for the first time.
R is for more TV revivals and remakes: NBC's "Will & Grace," CBS' "S.W.A.T," ABC's "Roseanne" (premiering March 27) and "American Idol" (returning March 11), joining "Hawaii 5-0," "MacGyver," "The X-Files" (Jan. 3), "The Exorcist" and "Fuller House."
TV remains committed to recycling -- looking for the next "Hawaii 5-0" or "M*A*S*H" -- despite the high failure rate since 1955: "Rush Hour," "The Muppets," "Timeless," "Limitless," "Frequency," "Training Day," "Prison Break," "Heroes: Reborn" "The Odd Couple" (three times), "The New Lassie," "New Mickey Mouse Club," "New WKRP" in 1991, "Paper Moon" in 1974 and two versions of "Casablanca," in 1983 on NBC and in 1955 on ABC.
S is for Sydney Benter, Scott Dimmich and Brad Stienke who left WKRC-TV this year. Benter, a North Bend native, was named main anchor at an Austin, Texas, station. Meteorologist Dimmich left TV for a business career. Stienke was replaced as sports director by former Los Angeles and ESPN anchor Gary Miller.
T is for twins, by George. Amal and George Clooney became first time parents twice over, with the birth of Alexander and Ella Clooney on June 6 in London.
U is for the unprecedented, unrelenting, ugly television campaign against Ohio Issue 2, the Drug Price Relief Act which would have set drug prices for Medicaid and other state-run programs. The air war started in May, and continued on TV around the clock for five months until Election Day. Although promoted on TV as veterans, doctors and nurses opposing the issue, most of the record $57-million campaign by the Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue came from drug makers. The Yes on 2 campaign spent about $17.5 million. The issue was defeated by a margin of 79 to 21 percent.
V is for the voices which vanished in 2017: DJ Everett Cork, "Autoline" host Steve Overbeck, former WVXU-FM and WMUB-FM program director/host John Hingsbergen, and sportscasters Dale McMillen and Eric Bose. Retired WCET-TV program director Grace Hill and 1950's WCPO-TV star "Sis Camp" (Loraine Pohlkamp Wolf) also died this year.
W is for Cincinnati's WOTH-TV, religious station WKOI-TV and Dayton CW affiliate WBDT-TV which will be wiped off the TV dial next year after agreeing to accept millions of dollars for their frequencies from the Federal Communications Commission in April. The FCC is in the middle of its "repack" plan to squeeze TV stations into digital Channels 2-36 from the current digital Channels 2-55 to free up more broadcast spectrum for wireless companies.
WOTH-TV (Channel 20), and its eight programming services, goes off the air Jan. 23. Owner Elliott Block says his low-power WKRP TV (WBQC-TV, Channel 25) does not yet have a channel assignment when the "repack" is completed in fall 2019.
X is for crossing off an item on my bucket list. On Sept. 2, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra performed "Music From WKRP in Cincinnati" at the Devou Park band shell. "WKRP" star Gary Sandy made a cameo appearance while the KSO played "Old Time Rock & Roll," "Another One Bites The Dust," "Soul Man," "Green Onions," "Celebration," "Hold The Line" and a "WKRP" theme song sing-along.
Y is for CBS' "Young Sheldon," one of the few hits of the fall TV season along with ABC's "The Good Doctor," NBC's "Will & Grace," CBS' "S.W.A.T." and Fox's "The Orville."
Z is for Erik Zarnitz, the meteorologist who left WLWT-TV in October after seven years. He was the second forecaster to leave; Jennifer Schack quit in May after the birth of her third child. They were replaced by meteorologists Allison Rogers this month and Ashley Brown in July.
Other Channel 5 changes: Co-anchor Colin Mayfield and traffic reporter Vanessa Richardson joined the "News 5 Today" morning news; anchor Mark Hayes moved from mornings to the 10 p.m. news in January, then left the station in August. Mollie Lair was hired as weekend co-anchor after Hayes' departure.