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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 alumni celebrate 51 years broadcasting on 91.7 FM

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Courtesy Jay Adrick
Former WVXU student operations directors (from left) Kathy Myers, Germaine Tenkotte Overman and Kimberly Flick from the late 1970s and early 1980s all worked at various radio and TV stations after graduating from Xavier.

Former WVXU staffers swap stories about the early days of Xavier University's public radio station.

A few were from WCXU ("Cincinnati's Xavier University"), the student-run closed circuit station heard in campus buildings and dormitories in the 1950s and '60s.

Most of the 50 people attending the 50th anniversary dinner at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse Saturday night – a year late, due to COVID-19 – worked at WVXU ("Voice of Xavier University") long before the Jesuit school sold the station to Cincinnati Public Radio in 2005.

They reminisced about how the little 10-watt station in the basement of Alter Hall gradually grew under Fr. Lawrence Flynn to 6,500 watts in 1976.

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Courtesy Jay Adrick
WVXU alumni gathered for a photo in Xavier University's Cintas Center during their campus tour Saturday as part of their delayed celebration of their station's 50th anniversary.

Alum Jay Adrick, a broadcasting engineer who helped transition the station from closed circuit to over-the-air broadcasting, presented a PowerPoint on the station's history. Among his photos was one of the late Harry Traynor, the first student manager and longtime WKRC-TV assignment editor, doing one of the first remote broadcasts on campus in 1970-71, and a photo of the new 1967 audio console.

"All we ever got was hand-me-downs, used equipment," Adrick says.

Adrick explained how the station chose the WVXU call letters in 1970 because the operators of the FM station on 105.1 called WCXL (now WUBE) protested that WCXU would confuse Cincinnati listeners.

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Courtesy Jay Adrick
Russ Read (right), former student station manager and music host, and Mike Cutler (center), a music host and newsman, listen as classmate Tom Stevens tells a story about broadcasting Xavier basketball games in 1973 from Schmidt Fieldhouse.

In the early 1970s, when no Cincinnati commercial station wanted to broadcast XU basketball games, WVXU sports director Tom Stevens did the games on the station.

The student DJs played rock and pop music in the 1970s. Iron Butterfly's 17-minute "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was the No. 1 song (to play when the DJ needed a bathroom break). And when WVXU would air Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music White Boy" the DJ would get a call from Fr. Flynn who thought he was hearing a different F word in the title and refrain.

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Courtesy Jay Adrick
(From left) Kathy Myers, Anita Bray Farrell, Michele Myers Beuerlein and Lynn Rattermann Knochelman wore their WVXU shirts to the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting Sunday.

Kathy Myers, former station manager, told of working on Larry Ashcraft's LiveLine, and Steve Overbeck's call-in auto repair show. Kevin Wolfe, Gary Burbank's former sidekick on WLW-AM, told about co-hosting Everybody's Cooking with chef Jimmy Gherardi in front of a studio audience in the Herald Avenue building when a caller asked how to cook squirrel.

Wolfe told the caller to make sure you leave the tail on, so you have something to hold on to when you deep-fry it.

While part of Xavier University, WVXU was known for airing old-time radio comedies and drama, including X Minus One, a half-hour 1950s science fiction show. The WVXU veterans noted that radio drama was part of the schedule in the very early 1970s, when Tom Flynn wrote and produced The Flying Dutchman of Space. Adrick played an excerpt from the series, which had been performed by several in attendance Saturday night.

The reunion began Friday night with a gathering at Listermann Brewing on Dana Avenue, across from the campus. On Saturday, WVXU alumni toured the Xavier campus and WVXU's current studios at Cincinnati Public Radio in the Crosley Telecommunications building, 1223 Central Parkway, before the Boathouse gathering. The group toured the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting on Sunday.

I posted this anniversary story last year, "Happy 50th Birthday To WVXU." And here's a link to The History Of WVXU on our website which includes audio cuts about the station by Adrick, Stevens, Read and Larry Holt, the reunion organizers.

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Courtesy of Jay Adrick
Jay Adrick recalls the early days of WVXU at Saturday's reunion.

Cincinnati Public Radio only edits John Kiesewetter's articles for style and grammar.

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.