If you want to see the Western & Southern/WEBN-FM Fireworks this year, you’ll have to be near the Ohio River downtown on Sept. 6.
For the first time since 1984, WEBN-FM doesn’t have a TV deal for the hugely popular "last blast of summer."
Managers for all Cincinnati TV stations say they’re not broadcasting the fireworks this year.
WXIX-TV (Channel 19) first telecast WEBN-FM’s fireworks 31 years ago. They have aired Channel 5, 9, 12 or 19 since then. The fireworks last year was the highest-rated locally produced TV program. It drew more viewers than the Reds’ 2015 Opening Day combined TV audience for WKRC-TV (Channel 12) and Fox Sports Ohio.
Earlier this year, Channel 19 didn’t renew its TV partnership with iHeartMedia to broadcast the WEBN-FM fireworks and provide weather to WLW-AM, WKRC-AM and its other radio stations.
Neither Chuck Fredrick, WEBN-FM general manager and Cincinnati iHeartMedia market manager, nor Justin Tabas, Riverfest fireworks executive producer and Cincinnati iHeartMedia integrated marketing director, have responded to my emails and text messages about the lack of a TV outlet.
Since my July 10 blog saying Channel 19 did not renew its fireworks-weather deal, I’m told Fredrick turned down a proposal for taping the fireworks and telecasting them the next day, Labor Day.
Channel 19 let the contract lapse after five years because “it didn’t make financial sense for us,” Debbie Bush, Channel 19 vice president and general manager said in July.
Since then, iHeartMedia stations refer to forecasts from the “700 WLW Weather Center.”
The 39th annual Western & Southern/WEBN-FM Fireworks presented by Cincinnati Bell are set for 9:05 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6. Again Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks will be synchronized to a soundtrack on WEBN-FM (102.7).
The fireworks tradition started in August 1977 to celebrate WEBN-FM’s 10th anniversary.