Two Greater Cincinnati public radio veterans – reporter Jay Hanselman and producer/announcer Lee Hay – will be leaving WVXU-FM at the end of October.
Hanselman, who has doggedly covered City Hall and the Hamilton County commissioners, joined the station with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik from WNKU in 2005, when Xavier University sold WVXU to Cincinnati Public Radio. He started in public radio part-time at WNKU in 1990, and became a full-time staffer in 1995.
Hay joined WVXU in 1984 to host and produce various music shows, after working for WGUC-FM and WMUB-FM in the 1970s. She‘s been a fervent supporter for Cincinnati arts and music through her weekly Around Cincinnati show (canceled in August after 15 years), Saturday night blues show, King Records retrospectives and other specials.
Hay told her Facebook friends Tuesday: "Well, kids, I officially retired from WVXU today effective 10/31. My public radio career started in 1975, & I've been at 'VXU since 1984. A long time with lots of memories, and I've made a lot of good friends along the journey. A new chapter is around the corner."
Hanselman, a Brown County resident, tells me that he wanted to do "something totally different than broadcasting and journalism, so I'm taking a manufacturing job."
He starts his new career Monday, Nov. 2, which means he won’t be part of WVXU’s Election Day coverage. "The timing before the election was coincidence. I had a job offer and two week's notice placed my final day on Oct. 30," he says.
Zeleznik, who has worked with Hanselman since he was a student at NKU, said he immediately demonstrated a passion for covering government and politics, and an ability to explain complex issues in simple terms.
"Soon I was learning as much from him as he was learning from me," Zeleznik says.
"His coverage of local governments is unlike any other in the local news media," Zeleznik wrote in her announcement to the staff this week. "He is one of the most experienced reporters in the city on these beats, and is the only reporter who regularly, thoroughly covers these governmental bodies. He knows more about how they operate than some of the elected officials do. I know our listeners will miss his regular coverage."
WVXU listeners also will miss him co-hosting fund drives with Zeleznik. They put the "fun" into fundraising.
"Jay and I have worked together for so long we finish each other's sentences," Zeleznik says. "I can look at him and just know what to talk about next, and when to pause because he has something to add. It's as easy as breathing. I love working with others on the air too, but it won't be the same. It's hard to replicate a 30-year relationship."
WVXU listeners might not have heard the last of Hanselman. He may do some fill-in work on a limited basis in the future, as his schedule allows, Zeleznik says.
Hay, WVXU’s music director at Xavier, worked at WGUC-FM in the mid-1970s, and at WMUB-FM in the late '70s. She provided an important voice to local theaters, authors, musicians, actors and other performers on Around Cincinnati, especially after the Enquirer's arts and entertainment staff was mostly disbanded in 2014, and Northern Kentucky University sold off folk-rock WNKU-FM in 2017.
Larry Nager, a musican and former music critic for the Cincinnati Post and Cincinnati Enquirer, says he has "never known a harder-working, more dedicated, more enthusiastic radio host in my life, and to maintain that level of commitment and work ethic for decade after decade is nothing short of miraculous … Everyone in Greater Cincinnati (and beyond) who cares about music and has access to a radio owes you a huge debt we can never begin to repay," Nager wrote on Facebook.
The Fairview Heights resident also produced a myriad of specials for WVXU, including retrospectives on The Who concert tragedy, Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, The Beatles local concerts and Crosley Field, and an annual Christmas special featuring local musicians and personalities.
Last week Hay hosted two specials – on the 140th anniversary of Rookwood Pottery and 50th anniversary of the old Reflections night club near the UC campus. She also was the Cincinnati correspondent for Downbeat magazine.
Editor's note: John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. WVXU has only edited it for style and grammar.