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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.

98 Degrees back in studio for 25th anniversary release

98 Degrees band members, from left, Justin Jeffre, Jeff Timmons, Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey arrive to KTUphoria 2018 at Jones Beach Theater on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Wantagh, New York.
Charles Sykes
98 Degrees band members, from left, Justin Jeffre, Jeff Timmons, Nick Lachey and Drew Lachey arrive to KTUphoria 2018 at Jones Beach Theater on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Wantagh, New York.

The 98 Degrees guys are back together in Los Angeles this week recording new music for their 25th anniversary.

"Hopefully we'll have a single out this summer, and we've been talking about a Christmas song," says Justin Jeffre, who flew to Los Angeles Sunday.

Jeffre, Jeff Timmons and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey released their debut album, simply called 98 Degrees, in 1997.

Because times have changed, Jeffre said the pop and R&B vocal group plans to record some singles, but not a full album. The songs may be released as an EP (extended play) album, a smaller group of songs.

It's been tough scheduling time to sing together because of Nick and his wife Vanessa's busy television schedule. Vanessa stars in CBS' hit rookie drama NCIAS: Hawai'I (10 p.m.Mondays), which is filmed in Hawaii. Nick was a judge on Fox's Alter Ego singing competition last fall. Nick and Vanessa, who have three children, also host two Netflix reality series — Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On.

"Let It Snow," the last 98 Degrees album, was released five years ago.

The guys are planning to celebrate their silver anniversary with a few performances, Jeffre says. 98 Degrees will perform at Disney World's EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival Eat to the Beat concert series in August, and at a California winery, Jeffre said.

"We've had a great relationship with Disney for a long time," he said.

After their inaugural album in 1997, 98 Degrees released 98 Degrees and Rising in 1998 and This Christmas in 1999. They also released "Let It Snow" for their 20th anniversary in 2017.

"We're talking about doing a Christmas song," Jeffrey said. "We've already done some Christmas albums."

Prior to the release of their third album, Revelation, the band received a major boost from the Disney Channel by taping a concert special, 98 Degrees & Hoku in Concert on the Covington riverfront for the cable channel in August 2000.

While in town, the foursome took batting practice with the Reds and sang the national anthem at Riverfront Stadium; received a key to the city at Cincinnati City Hall; and presented a $2,500 check to the School for Creative & Performing Arts on behalf of Time Warner cable and a grand piano provided by the Disney Channel.

The Lacheys and Jeffre are SCPA graduates. Nick Lachey and Jeffre also sang in a Kings Island barbershop quartet 1991-92, where Lachey has said he learned to harmonize singing a cappella.

Jeffre said he's involved with the CincyPHLUSH, the local chapter of the Oregon-based Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human nonprofit promoting "equitable access to toilets/sanitation systems."

Drew and his wife Lea are co-founders and co-artistic directors of the Lachey Arts nonprofit Cincinnati youth arts program.

In 2016, after nearly a decade break, 98 Degrees reunited for their "My2K Tour." They also toured in 2017 with NKOTB and Boyz II Men on the "Package Tour" in 2017, and did a "98 Degrees at Christmas" tour in 2018.

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.