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WKRC-TV To Air WEBN-FM Fireworks Again

Tana Weingartner
Past Western-Southern/WEBN-FM Riverfest fireworks over the Ohio River.

For a third consecutive year, WKRC-TV will broadcast the Western & Southern/WEBN-FM Riverfest fireworks at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 2.

After a one-year absence from television, WKRC-TV (Channel 12) stepped up to air the annual last blast of summer in 2016. Jon Lawhead, the Cincinnati/Dayton group manager for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, confirmed today that Channel 12 will air the fireworks again this year.

D.J. Hodge, Cincinnati market manager for iHeartMedia (including WEBN-FM and WLW-AM), said an announcement about the TV partner will be coming "in a few days." He did not name the TV station.

Credit WEBN-FM
Logo for the 40th WEBN-FM fireworks in 2016.

Until 2015, telecasting WEBN-FM's Riverfest fireworks was a Cincinnati tradition for 31 consecutive years on one of the four main Cincinnati stations, WKRC-TV, WXIX-TV, WCPO-TV or WLWT-TV. The first was in 1984 on WXIX-TV. It is always the highest-rated TV broadcast of the night here, and one of the biggest TV audiences for a local program every year.

Viewers were not happy when they did not air in 2015, after WXIX-TV didn't renew its contract with WEBN-FM.

Riverfest starts at noon Sunday, Sept. 2, at Sawyer Point, according tothe CincinnatiUSA website. WEBN-FM has not updated its "Fireworks FAQ" from a year ago on its website.

WEBN-FM's first fireworks show was on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 1977 – yes, a Tuesday! – to celebrate the station's 10th birthday. The huge crowd prompted the city to create the end-of-summer Riverfest party ending with Rozzi's Famous Fireworks.

WEBN-FM was started in August 1967 by Cincinnati attorney Frank Wood Sr. The station promoted its 2016 show as the 40th consecutive fireworks, and celebrated the 40th anniversary last year. 

I'll post more details when they are available.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.