John Kiesewetter

Media Blog

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.

The Middletown, Ohio, native joined The Enquirer for a 13-week summer internship after graduating from Ohio University in 1975, and parlayed it into a nearly 40-year career as a reporter (including covering the Beverly Hills fire aftermath), editor and TV columnist. “TV Kiese” regularly traveled to Los Angeles and other cities to preview shows, interview stars and watch tapings of “ER,” “Seinfeld,” Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and David Letterman’s “Late Show.” He’s also covered filming of George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” Cate Blanchett’s “Carol” and Don Cheadle’s “Miles Ahead.”

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Greg Tatum

Former WKRC-TV producer Harry Traynor died this week, two months after completing a new documentary about the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire which killed 165 people.

Fire On The Hill: Memories Of The Beverly Hills Tragedy, a combination of new interviews and WKRC-TV video from the fire, was telecast on CitiCable last month, making it eligible for a regional Emmy Award.

Courtesy Fred Rogers Center

I only met Joanne Rogers once. But I owed a huge debt of gratitude to the widow of children's TV host Fred Rogers – the inspiration for his Queen Sara Saturday puppet -- who died Thursday at age 92.

I've often said my most memorable interview from 35 years covering television was from spending a day with Fred Rogers at Pittsburgh's WQED-TV as he taped a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood episode in November 1997.

Update 3 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 12: Allworth Financial advisor Steve Sprovach will co-host WKRC-AM's Simply Money with Amy Wagner after Nathan Bachrach leaves the show  Feb. 23, Wagner says.

Courtesy Pete Miller

"Pistol Pete" Miller, a popular country music DJ at WUBE-FM, WYGY-FM, WNKR-FM and WNKN-FM, died at his Fairfax home Saturday. He was 59.

Courtesy From The Top

At age 9, Daniel Dorsey started playing the cello. At 17, he's performing on National Public Radio's From The Top showcasing young classically trained musicians.

Courtesy Hot Shot's Secrets

Calling it "a dream come true," Steve Sommers resumes his overnight conversations with truckers and insomniacs Monday, Jan. 11, two months after WLW-AM canceled his America's Truckin' Network show.

And he may be able to talk about politics, too.

Courtesy WKRC-AM

WKRC-AM morning host Brian Thomas wanted to thank his listeners for all the Facebook and text messages of support during his six-week coronavirus convalescence.

But he didn't have the "energy, ability or desire" to do anything since Thanksgiving.

Associated Press

UPDATE 10:30 A.M. NEW YEAR'S DAY 2021: My old pal Norm Clarke, the former Cincinnati Associated Press writer who was the man-about-town columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal (1999-2016), wrote this on his blog on Valentine's Day in 2019 -- on Phyllis McGuire's 88th birthday -- about her attending a Las Vegas gala about 10 years ago:

Courtesy Fox Broadcasting

Yep, it's been one bad, sad year with more than 335,000 lives lost to the global coronavirus pandemic. I could almost fill each letter with this retrospective with a notable death – but I won't. There are some other things worth remembering from 2020, such as how the Cincinnati riverfront was "Simpsonfied" in November.

Here's my socially distanced look back at the year of TV/Media/Radio/Movies stories from A to Z:

Courtesy Mercantile Library

Sara Pearce, who supervised the Cincinnati Enquirer Tempo section in the 1990s, died Sunday at age 68.

Full disclosure: I hired Sara as food writer in the early 1980s, when I was the Enquirer's features editor supervising the Tempo, Sunday Arts & Entertainment and weekly Food sections. After I was named TV columnist in 1985 – and after Pearce returned from the Orlando Sentinel and other papers – she was my boss.

Courtesy MTM

This week 41 years ago: Beloved Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson was fired from his sports talk show on WKRP In Cincinnati.

"I must be nuts. Every time I come into this town, I get fired," said Anderson at the conclusion of WKRP's "Sparky" episode.  It was first broadcast on Christmas Eve 1979 during WKRP's second season.


Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

It sounds odd, but directing hundreds of basketball and football games, and dozens of WEBN Riverfest firework telecasts, was great training for David Ashbrock when WLWT-TV asked him to direct The Nutcracker at Home airing 8 p.m. tonight.

WVXU File

Dec. 23 update:  Laura Powell Fritz's obit has been posted by Walker Funeral Home in Mount Healthy. She was born 53 years ago in Washington, D.C. No services are mentioned. Friends are invited "to share a memory of Laura or leave a special message for the Fritz family" on the "Tribute Wall" tab.

Original post Monday, Dec. 21: Laura Powell (Fritz), who hosted WKRQ-FM afternoons for more than a decade, died Saturday after "a grueling battle with Crohn's disease," according to a GoFundMe account set up Sunday.

Mikki Schaffner / Playhouse In The Park

Not only did Bruce Cromer do all the voices for WVXU's A Christmas Carol, but the actor also had to trim Charles Dickens' actual reading script to fit the one-hour radio drama.

John Kiesewetter

You know what makes me sick? It's hearing that Gary Burbank is ending his nationally syndicated Earl Pitts redneck commentaries after 35 years.

Melinda Sue Gordon / Netflix

Look who's going to The Prom with Jo Ellen Pellman: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key and late-night talk host James Corden.

Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

For the first time, the Cincinnati Ballet's holiday classic The Nutcracker will be telecast on WLWT so "everyone has a front row seat" this year, says Cincinnati Ballet President and CEO Scott Altman.

Courtesy NBC Sports

Al Michaels, who got his big league start with the Cincinnati Reds 50 years ago, is the 2021 recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award.

Courtesy RC3

It's a catchy title – TriState Strong: Getting To Zero – for the one-hour local coronavirus special on Thursday, Dec. 10, involving three Cincinnati TV stations, three radio stations, the Enquirer, four hospital networks and more than a dozen Cincinnati personalities.

Exactly what are we getting to zero?

Brian Douglas / Hallmark Channel

It happens every year. After I publish my Holiday Program Guide for December, networks move around shows.

Mikki Schaffner / Playhouse In The Park

The show must go on! With the global pandemic keeping area stages dark, and theaters empty, the Playhouse In the Park is bringing its traditional A Christmas Carol production to Cincinnati Public Radio.

Courtesy Fox Broadcasting/Screen shot

The bowls. Huge bowls filled with chili spaghetti. The Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman was obsessed with the inaccurate depiction of Skyline Chili customers eating from bowls, not plates.

I wanted to talk about the delightful depiction of the Queen City in "The Road To Cincinnati" episode Sunday, and Selman kept talking about the pasta-filled bowls.

Courtesy Fox Broadcasting

Has Cincinnati ever looked better on national TV than on The Simpsons Sunday?

The riverfront and iconic Roebling Suspension bridge… A flying pig statue at The Banks… Skyline Chili at Clifton and Ludlow?

NBCUniversal

I’ve been making my list and checking it twice… And here it is: My annual Holiday Program Guide!

Charlie Brown, Frosty, Rudolph, Ralphie, the Grinch, Shrek, the Carpenters, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and your favorites are all in my list.

Courtesy Fox Broadcasting

Road trip! A couple of The Simpsons characters are heading to Cincinnati in an episode premiering Sunday (8 p.m. Nov. 29, Channels 19 and 45).

Courtesy NBC Sports

Fifty years ago today: Alan Richard "Al" Michaels, 26, was hired to be the radio voice of the National League Champion Cincinnati Reds on Nov. 24, 1970, and partner with analyst Joe Nuxhall.

John Kiesewetter

Middletown's old WPFB studios – abandoned since WNKU-FM's purchase almost 10 years ago – finally is being sold by Northern Kentucky University.

NKU is seeking sealed bids by 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, for the one-acre parcel with the old farmhouse where Paul F. Braden started WPFB-AM in 1947. There is no minimum bid.

Courtesy ABC

Since many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving without large family gatherings due to COVID-19, here's my annual list of specials so you can spend time with your old TV friends.

Courtesy PBS

Charlie Brown finally wins one! The backlash forced the Apple blockheads to back down.

Courtesy Netflix

When a popular book is made into a movie, you expect the story to be condensed into the Cliff's Notes version.

Not a comic book.

That's what Ron Howard did to Hillbilly Elegy, the best-selling memoir by J.D. Vance, who grew up in Middletown, Ohio. It's my hometown, too.

Pages