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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.

WVXU Replaying Award-Winning Documentary About The Who Concert Tragedy

John Kiesewetter
Historical marker outside Heritage Bank Center (formerly Riverfront Coliseum and US Bank Arena).

WVXU-FM will repeat its award-winning The Who Concert: 30 Years Later at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, the 40th anniversary of the tragedy on the Riverfront Coliseum plaza.

Eleven concertgoers were crushed to death as thousands were awaiting the concert with "festival seating," or unreserved seating. Only a few doors were open for entry that night.

The Who Concert: 30 Years Later won three first-place awards – best documentary for producer Lee Hay and host Brian O'Donnell from the Ohio Associated Press; and best documentary and best interview (for O'Donnell's conversation with promoter Cal Levy) from Public Radio News Directors Inc.

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
The 11 deceased are listed on the other side of the historical marker.

In addition to Levy, the documentary includes comments from reporters Cliff Radel and Craig Kopp; concertgoers Karol Brown, Jay Patterson, Jay Aronoff and Michael Ladd; Cincinnati Police Officer Dale Menkhaus; Paul Wertheimer from the Cincinnati task force that investigated the tragedy; Gary Miller from the Red Cross; and attorney Dennis Miller, who represented The Who in 1980 depositions here.

Here are some of their quotes:

MENKHAUS: "There was such a crowd gathering early (outside the arena) that we started our police detail at 1 p.m instead of 5 p.m. ... (Between 6-7 p.m.) we estimated there were 15,000 people waiting to get in."

PATTERSON: "People were packed in so tight you couldn't raise your arms."

LEVY: Levy got a call at 7:45 p.m. about a problem, so he went outside to the concourse. "What we saw was utter chaos. I saw emergency vehicles everywhere. I saw news crews everywhere. I saw shoes and coats and bits of clothing and bodies and people working on those bodies."

the who cincinnati
Credit Brian Horton / AP
A security guard and an unidentified man look at an area where several people were killed as they were caught in a surging crowd entering Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum for a Who concert on Dec. 3, 1979.

RADEL: "There were bodies stacked like cordwood. There were dozens upon dozens of pairs of shoes just piled up… and bodies being draped with cloth. It was a very horrible sight to see."

Here's a link to hear the show and the 37-minute interview with Levy, the on-site promoter at Riverfront Coliseum that night for Electric Factory Concerts. This was his first interview about the tragedy since the concert.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, WCPO-TV will air Tanya O'Rourke's recent interviews with band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in a special called The Who: The Night That Changed Rock (8 p.m., Channel 9). O'Rourke will talk about the show with Michael Monks Monday at noon on WVXU-FM's Cincinnati Edition.

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.