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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.

Why sports reporter Keenan Singleton left WCPO-TV

Keenan Singleton WCPO 2021 crop.jpg
Courtesy Keenan Singleton
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Keenan Singleton left WCPO-TV's airwaves after hosting "Sports Of All Sorts" on Feb. 20.

After nearly seven years in Cincinnati, Singleton and his family are moving to Bradenton, Fla.

Sports reporter Keenan Singleton, who hosted his final Sports Of All Sorts last month, says he will remember Cincinnati fondly.

But not so much his WCPO-TV bosses.

"I can't say enough good things about this town, and the people I've met here. I met my wife (Leigh) here, and we had our two children here. We won't have a house here, but this will always be home," says the Houston native who is moving to Bradenton, Fla., where his wife has accepted a job as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Singleton, hired from a Lexington TV station in 2015, had his disagreements with WCPO-TV management. Leaving was "my call," says Singleton, the glib sportscaster probably best known for filming University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville yelling at a heckling fan to "go to hell, get a job" in 2016. Tuberville resigned a month later.

After Ken Broo retired in December 2018, and Reggie Wilson left last August for Minneapolis, Singleton says he filled in for more than a year as weekend anchor without additional compensation.

"Technically my position is MMJ — a multi-media journalist. It's basically their way to get people to do all the jobs that three or four people used to do (camera operator, video editor, etc.) at a reduced rate. I was a MMJ and that was fine, especially when I first started," he says.

"But at a certain point in time, I was an anchor. Once Ken Broo left, I filled in as the weekend anchor at WCPO for nine months. And when Reggie Wilson left, I stepped in and filled in as an anchor again … I wasn't being paid the going rate for an anchor. It's one thing to fill in for a couple of weeks. It's another thing to do it cumulatively for more than a year and not to be compensated for it, and that was definitely a point of contention with the company."

Another point of contention was WCPO-TV's refusal to let him out of his contract in November 2020, when a Tampa TV station offered him more money to come to Florida. He and his wife have family in Florida who could help them with their children, ages 3 and 2. Singleton also wanted some flexibility in his 3 p.m.-midnight schedule to spend more time with his wife and kids.

"I had some other opportunities during my tenure there at WCPO that popped up, and they wouldn't allow me to pursue those opportunities because I was under contract. And you know that's their legal right to do so. But I think maybe they failed to understand that once you prevent someone from seeking a better opportunity for their family, that person may not be totally happy in that environment moving forward, and to be frank, that's how I felt.

"We could never kind of come to a meeting of the minds as far as not only that situation, but my schedule and what I felt I deserved to be compensated. But the No. 1 reason was family. I felt that I didn't want to devote my time away from my family to a place that I didn't feel really appreciated what I brought to the table. So it was just time for me to go my separate way. It was wholly my decision."

Singleton recalled how often we hear coaches and athletes say they're leaving sports to spend more time with their family.

"Those of us in the business always kind of snicker and say, 'Yeah, right.' But for me that's actually true. These days, the way local TV is structured it's hard to be a full-time TV personality and a full-time dad at the same time. I have two young kids, and it just wasn't jiving with my schedule as far as the time I felt that I felt my team at home deserved, more so than WCPO. To be frank, they (WCPO) probably needed a better teammate than what I could provide at this point in my journey, so it was time for me to step away and focus more on stuff here at home, and be around my kids. That's what's more important to me now."

Jeff Brogan, WCPO vice president and general manager, declined to comment about Singleton. "We can’t talk about personnel matters but appreciate everything Keenan did for us and wish him the best in whatever he does next," he says.

WCPO is "currently recruiting for a sports reporter/anchor," Brogan says. As for Wilson's weekend anchor position, vacant since August, Brogan says, "Reggie’s position was part-time and we’re still determining what we plan on doing with that position."

Singleton is thankful for his two mentors at WCPO — now both retired — sports director John Popovich and Broo.

Singleton didn't have a lot of TV experience before Channel 9. After earning a journalism degree at the University of Houston, he began his career at the Orange County Register in Southern California, working his way up from a news assistant to high school sports reporter.

Next he worked about six years as a researcher for the NFL Network in Los Angeles. He also did enough spots reporting for a cable TV access station to put together a resume tape which got him a sports job at WTVQ-TV in Lexington, Ky., in 2013. Two years later he was hired by WCPO.

Watching Popo and Broo was a master class.

"I learned so much from those two guys just by osmosis. They're so different, but they were both so talented in their strengths. Popo was the ultimate storyteller and Ken was like the personality. I just tried to take as much from each of them because they were two dudes who were doing it for 30-plus years at the highest level," he says.

For now, Singleton plans to be a stay at home father in Bradenton.

"We're going to be closer to family, as we wanted to be a couple of years ago. I'll be at home with the kids primarily for a while and then I'll make some decisions. I'm not sure if local TV is in my future. I really don't know. I would like to be my own boss. That's something that this process has taught me — that I'm ready to call my own shots in a lot of different ways."

Singleton definitely won't forget his last days for WCPO. After signing off from Sports Of All Sorts on Sunday, Feb. 20, he was supposed to work two more days. But his Scripps email was blocked.

"I wanted to do some housekeeping things and send some emails, but when I tried to get on (the computer system) Monday morning I couldn't access things. It was like, 'OK. So I guess that's how this is going to go.' That's why when I drove away, I did not look back."