Robyn Carey Allgeyer Retiring, But We Haven't Heard The Last Of Her On Radio
Robyn Carey Allgeyer has been a familiar voice since 1980 on WGUC-FM, WVXU-FM, WNOP-AM, WMKV-FM, WLHS-FM and WAIF-FM
It's the best advice she ever ignored. While an Indiana University broadcasting student in the 1970s, Robyn Carey Allgeyer she put on a new suit and interviewed at a Cincinnati radio station where the manager told her:
"Little lady, you should think about changing your major. Nobody wants to hear a woman's voice on the radio."
Allgeyer, who retires Friday July 30, has been heard on WVXU-FM, WGUC-FM, WNOP-AM, WAIF-FM, WSCH-FM and since 2014 hosting mornings on Maple Knoll's WMKV-FM and WLHS-FM. While hosting 6-10 a.m. for WMKV-FM she continued to do interviews for Lee Hay's Around Cincinnati on WVXU-FM and substitute as a WGUC-FM classical music host.
The Glendale resident enrolled at Otterbein College in suburban Columbus on a theater scholarship after graduating from Princeton High School in 1973. She switched majors after her first experience on the campus radio station, and eventually transferred to Indiana University. Her first job was "introducing inner-city kids to radio" at WAIF-FM as a Volunteers In Service To America (now AmeriCorps VISTA) staffer.
After stints at WSCH-FM in Aurora, Ind., and a year hosting jazz at a station near Beaumont, Texas, she was hired by WNOP-AM, the legendary Jazz Ark station broadcasting from inside huge oil drums floating on the Ohio River in Newport. At 24, she was the first female DJ at "Radio Free Newport, working with Leo Underhill ("Old Undies"), Ray Scott, Max Warner and Bunky Tadwell (aka Walt Harrell).
"I used to hang out at the Captain's Anchorage bar next door to meet people from WNOP," says Allgeyer, who listened to jazz host Oscar "O.T." Treadwell's late-night Eclectic Stop Sign show on WGUC-FM while in high school. Her family moved here in 1965 when her father – Bob Carey, the 1951 Michigan State football captain who played defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears – came to work as an executive at Champion Paper in Hamilton.
Before joining WNOP, she was trying to syndicate the late-night jazz show she had started in the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange market. She had to drive to a studio in Columbus, Ohio; record the show on reel-to-reel tapes; and mailing them to stations in Texas and Minnesota.
That ended when Underhill, a 35-year radio veteran, hired her to replace him on the WNOP morning show in February 1980 when he moved to 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
"I told Leo that his were hard shoes to fill and he said, 'Don't try to fill 'em, change 'em,' " Robyn told Cincinnati Post TV/Radio columnist Mary Wood.
It didn't go so well. Listeners didn't like hearing her music selections, a change from the station's mostly Concord Jazz label recordings.
"I got a lot of hate mail," she says.
At that time, she began her public relations and marketing career. She would promote the Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Children's Theatre, Greater Cincinnati YWCA and Princeton City School District. (She was a Princeton student when Lincoln Heights and Woodlawn schools merged with the Sharonville-based district.)
At the CSO, she sought to promote personal stories about the orchestra members. She elicited stories by requesting the musicians fill out questionnaires asking about their favorite charities and most embarrassing moments. She rewarded them with Hershey's Symphony candy bars she bought with her own funds.
"Doing things 'outside the box' worked for me in PR. I had great success and loved it," she says.
Allgeyer lived 12 years in Nashville, before moving back in 1994. No matter where she lived, or worked in public relations, she volunteered at the local public radio station.
"Radio people understand: The medium gets in your blood," she says.
Allgeyer hosted Wednesday night jazz on WVXU-FM from 1995 to 2005, when Xavier University sold the station to Cincinnati Public Radio. After the purchase, she did more than 100 interviews for Lee Hay's Around Cincinnati, with topics ranging from Project Runway and the Miss America pageant to TV chefs Ming Tsai and Carla Hall.
After retiring, she's looking forward to seeing her daughter and grandchildren in Nashville, a a son in Los Angeles and a daughter in Chicago.
But Greater Cincinnati hasn't heard the last of this woman's voice on radio. She plans to volunteer during WMKV-FM fund drives and record voice-over spots if requested.
"And I'd love to do a jazz show," she says.
It's in her blood.
John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio only edits his stories for style and grammar.