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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. Contact John at

How WKRC-TV's Fireworks Telecast Will Be Different This Year

Tana Weingartner
File photo of Riverfest fireworks.

Without several thousand people around to watch the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks due to the pandemic, WKRC-TV's live telecast definitely will look different on Sunday (9 p.m., Channel 12).

With Riverfest canceled, Channel 12 announced two weeks ago the Rozzi's Famous Fireworks show will be detonated at a secret site "to comply with state and local" health orders preventing large gatherings during COVID-19.

So here's what viewers should expect, according to Jon Lawhead, Channel 12 general manager:

--Only two Channel 12 news personalities, anchors Paula Toti and Kyle Inskeep, will be seen during the one-hour telecast. In past years, TV stations would use several reporters to do feature stories and cover huge crowds on both sides of the Ohio River.

--Toti and Inskeep will broadcast from the secret location, not from the Channel 12 studio watching the video that viewers will see. They will be among the few people to see the actual fireworks.

--Channel 12 will not attempt to report any audience reaction this year.

--After the fireworks display, Toti and Inskeep will interview a Rozzi employee.

The Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks again will be synchronized to a soundtrack on WEBN-FM (102.7). The fireworks tradition started in August 1977 to celebrate WEBN's 10th anniversary.

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.