Ken Broo's Greatest Hits From His Cincinnati TV Career
Ken Broo claims to be the only guy to hit the Cincinnati TV trifecta – reporting and anchoring at Channels 5, 9 and 12.
Some might not remember that he was the Bengals second radio play-by-play guy, following legendary original Bengals voice Phil Samp.
Or that he first came to town in 1977 as morning sports reporter for Jim Scott's WSAI-AM morning show – and moonlighted evenings as the first public address announcer at the new Riverfront Coliseum (now US Bank Arena) for the WHA Cincinnati Stingers games.
It's been quite a ride for Broo, who anchors his final TV sportscast at 11 p.m. on WCPO-TV on Sunday, Dec. 30.
Broo won't vanish from the airwaves completely. He'll keep doing Sunday and Saturday Sports Talk on WLW-AM, and filling in for Bill Cunningham, Mike McConnell and others. But no more TV.
"This is it! After 44 years, someone else can have a chance," says Broo, a 1974 Ohio University graduate who anchored sports on WLWT-TV (1987-90), WKRC-TV (1990-96, and 2000-2013) and WCPO-TV (2013-18).
To borrow one of his old schticks, here are some of Broo's Boos & Bravos (actually more Bravos than Boos):
WCPO-TV INTERN: Broo, a New Jersey native, first came to Cincinnati as a summer intern at WCPO-TV in 1973. He worked in the Channel 9 promotions department and roomed with fellow OU intern Tom McKee, who retired from Channel 9 news Dec. 21. The promotions staff needed help since it was launching the John Wade Show, a local midday variety show to compete with Bob Braun's show on Channel 9 and Nick Clooney's variety show on Channel 12.
"Everyone in the promotion department was working on promoting the John Wade Show, so they asked me to write some promos for the Al Schottelkotte News to air during the Watergate hearings," Broo says. He wrote some clever one-liners for the no nonsense Schottelkotte, and took them down to the newsroom.
Fifteen minutes later, Schottelkotte walked into the promotions office and dropped the scripts on Broo's desk. "I can't do these," he said.
"I was shattered. I thought they'd throw me out of the building," Broo said.
WSAI-AM DAYS: After OU, Broo started his career at WKFI-AM in Wilmington, Ohio, then moved to WKST-AM in New Castle, Pa. He came back here to do morning sports on WSAI-AM, and welcome people to the Stingers first game at Riverfront Coliseum.
"On opening night, they asked me to introduce like 100 groups of people. They told me not to start until the players were on the ice. I was on like No. 38, when the referee came over to me and said, 'Stop talking! This isn't Toledo, Ohio! We've got a hockey game to play!' "
OKLAHOMA!: Broo left Cincinnati radio to start his television career at KWTV-TV in Oklahoma City and KOTV-TV in Tulsa. From there he went to WTSP-TV in Tampa, where he was "Florida Sportscaster of the Year" three times in seven years. He moved back to Cincinnati in 1987 – to WLWT-TV -- "because there wasn't a lot going on in Tampa back then except the (NFL) Buccaneers."
WLWT-TV: Broo and his nightly "Boos & Bravos" segment arrived at WLWT-TV in 1987 just as Jerry Springer, Norma Rashid and weatherman Pat Barry were taking first place in the 11 p.m. news ratings. NBC provided a huge ratings boost with its "Must See TV" Thursday lineup with The Cosby Show, Cheers, Night Court and L.A. Law, plus the 1988 Olympics and the Bengals-49ers Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989.
"We had a really good (news) team. We hit our stride that summer and fall. We had some fun," Broo said.
"And we had the Reds! There were only 45 games on (local) TV back then, unlike today when every game is on TV."
WKRC-TV: After three years, Broo hopped to Channel 12 to anchor sports and to do Bengals play-by-play on sister WKRC-AM with Dave Lapham and former quarterback Ken Anderson. Samp, the Bengals original voice, actually handed off the mic to him.
"On my first game, Phil did the first play of the game, and then handed off to me," Broo said.
KING OF TRASH SPORTS: Through Channel 5's Reds TV connections, Broo was hired in the late 1980s and early '90s to do TV announcing for Bud Sports, owned by Anheuser-Busch.
"Anything that did not involve a ball" was assigned to Broo – truck and tractor pulls; lumberjack competitions; horseshoes; motorcycle shows; horse jumping; and the Gerald Ford Celebrity Golf Tournament in Vail, Colo.
Broo was promised a five-minute TV interview with the former president on two conditions: That he not mention the Warren Commission report on President Kennedy's assassination, and not talk about Watergate or former President Nixon, whom Ford pardoned after Nixon resigned in 1974.
When Ford arrived by golf cart for their TV chat, "the first words out of my mouth were, 'Pardon me, Mr. President…' And Ford says to me, 'Son, you wouldn't be the first one.' "
MR. BROO GOES TO WASHINGTON: From 1996 to 2000, Broo did sports for WUSA-TV in D.C., replacing the legendary Warner Wolf. He also did play-by-play for Jefferson-Pilot Sports on their ACC basketball network broadcast on TV stations throughout the southeast, plus did radio for University of Maryland football broadcasts and morning sports for Washington's legendary WHFS-FM.
MR. BROO COMES BACK FROM WASHINGTON: Four years later, Broo was back at Channel 5, where he stayed until abruptly jumping to Channel 9 in late 2013. Why did he switch channels so much?
"Every time I moved – and it was probably to my detriment to move so much – was when I thought I was being taken for granted…. It just wasn't working out for me, so I took an opportunity when it presented itself," he says.
That's why he ended his career at Channel 9.
"WCPO-TV was a godsend," said Broo, who was hired to fill the vacancy from Dennis Janson's retirement. A year ago, when his contract expired, Channel 9 created a part-time sports position "so I could work part-time for the past year. That was very generous of them."
FAMILY TIME: When I asked what he planned to do in retirement, he volunteered this:
"I'm not going to spend more time with my family. Everyone says when they retire that they're going to spend more time with their family – but I think you should check with your family first!"
I think he was joking.
His son and daughter are lawyers working for the Hamilton County prosecutor's office. His wife Pat has a daughter in the insurance business, and a son running a software company.
"My two kids are attorneys. They both work for Joe Deters. My son says, 'I can't help you if you're in trouble, but I can throw you in jail!' "
THE END: Despite his habit of working for different TV stations in town, Broo says he's done with TV.
"I've done everything I wanted to do. I worked with some great people," he said. "I love television, but after a while that gets to be a grind."
Local TV sportscasts might be a little less entertaining, but we'll still have Broo on the radio airwaves with his wonderful mix of sports opinions and rock 'n' roll history.
Thanks for making TV sports fun, Ken.