Cincinnati Television

Provided / Jim LaBarbara

That vacant red brick building at Ninth & Elm Streets downtown bought by Kroger recently was once the studios for WLW-AM’s Jim LaBarbara, Rich King and James Francis Patrick O’Neill, and WLWT-TV’s Peter Grant, Gene Randall, Phil Samp and meteorologist Tony Sands.

For about 20 years, the COMEX building housed WLW’s radio operations and TV news across the street from WLW headquarters at Crosley Square, now the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy-Armleder campus.

From the mid 1950s until 1976, people could sometimes watch WLW TV newscasts or radio shows through the huge plate glass windows and hear via outdoor speakers. Channel 5 viewers also saw announcer Bill Myers and DJ Jim “The Music Professor” LaBarbara do weather from the building’s roof.

Provided by WCPO-TV

Make it four for four. When WCPO-TV News Director Alex Bongiorno announced Tuesday she was leaving Channel 9 in early March, she'll be the fourth of the four TV newsroom bosses here to step down in eight months.

With changes at Channels 5, 12 and 19 since July, Bongiorno is the longest-tenured current local TV news director, at 2-1/2 years. She was hired in July 2013, three months after Scripps executive Jeff Brogan was named WCPO-TV general manager.

Provided by Eben Franckewitz

With “American Idol” ending this year, I looked up a few former local singers who got huge career boosts from Fox’s music competition reality show.

Almost every year we could count on meeting a young talented performer from this area on the show.  They became instant celebrities here… and known to the nation.

Here are some updates, and list of a dozen other locals who found a few minutes of fame on “American Idol.”

Provided by WLWT-TV

WLWT-TV premieres the city’s third 10 p.m. newscast on Jan. 11 by pre-empting “Hogan’s Heroes” on sister Me TV Channel 5.2.

Promos aired during the Bengals-Broncos game Monday night on Channel 5 featured news anchor Sheree Paolello, meteorologist Kevin Robinson and sports director George Vogel. That’s three-fourths of the 11 p.m. team who will do half-hour newscasts at 10 p.m., says Richard Dyer, Channel 5 president and general manager. All are Cincinnati natives.

Why not main co-anchor Mike Dardis, who came to Channel 5 from Seattle in 2012?

Tribune Broadcasting

Before we welcome 2016, let’s look back at this year in TV, movies, radio and media from A to Z.

Connie Wernet

Bonnie Lou, the last remaining star from Ruth Lyons’ TV show and Cincinnati’s Golden Age of Live TV, died Tuesday at age 91.

The country, rockabilly and pop music singer performed for 30 years on WLW’s iconic “Midwestern Hayride,” “Boone County Jamboree,” Lyons’ “50-50 Club” and the “Paul Dixon Show,” the crazy weekday morning host who inspired young David Letterman. 

After leaving TV when Dixon died in 1974, she continued to entertain for another 30 years at fairs, festivals, pageants and concerts. Her last major public performance here was at the 2006 Tall Stacks riverboat festival.

Mike Berk

Anchors Scott Schneider, Jack Atherton and Mike Berk have left the TV airwaves, changes since November sweeps ended last week.

And WLWT-TV is looking for a newsroom boss to replace news director Mike Neelly, who heads home to Mississippi to become general manager at sister Hearst station WAPT-TV in Jackson.

Kings Island

“The Brady Bunch” kids raced around Kings Island looking for lost architectural plans on ABC Television on this date in TV Kiese history, Nov. 23, 1973.

Here’s the story of a show called “Brady”… Stars Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland, Christopher Knight, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis and Robert Reed were shown looking all over Kings Island for Mike Brady’s (Reed) architectural drawings for the park’s expansion.

Tribune Broadcasting

The Antenna TV channel will return to Cincinnati airwaves on one of WSTR-TV’s (Channel 64) digital multicast channels before Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" reruns begin Jan. 1.

When low-power WOTH-TV (Channel 20) dropped Antenna TV earlier this month, I wrote that Antenna’s owners were seeking a stronger signal before the Carson show comeback. And that’s what happened.

Tribune Broadcasting today announced with Sinclair Broadcast Group and four other station owners to add 26 new outlets for Antenna TV. 

Wikipedia

Low power WOTH-TV has added the BUZZR game show network on over-the-air Channel 20.3 and dropped Antenna TV, which I’m hearing could move to a stronger Cincinnati signal before Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” reruns premiere in January.

BUZZR airs reruns of Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make A Deal,” “Family Feud,” “Match Game,” “Super Password,” “To Tell The Truth,” “What’s My Line,” “I’ve Got A Secret," "Press Your Luck” and “Tattletales.”

Antenna TV, owned by Tribune Media Co., adds  much anticipated Carson "Tonight Show" reruns on Jan. 1, as I reported on in August

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly…”

Those words were first spoken on TV 37 years ago today after “WKRP in Cincinnati” dropped live turkeys, which hit the “ground like sacks of wet cement,” at a shopping mall parking lot in a Thanksgiving promotion gone horribly, hilariously wrong on this date in TV Kiese history, Oct. 30, 1978.

“They’re crashing to the earth right in front of our eyes!” says WKRP newsman Les Nessman  in this clip below from the most memorable episode of “WKRP” (1978-82).

Mark Heyne / WVXU News

TV stations which loved the web traffic for the naked Bengals locker room video would hate losing unrestricted access to players immediately after games.

WCPO-TV’s John Popovich, WLWT-TV’s George Vogel, WXIX-TV’s Joe Danneman and Bengals announcer Dan Hoard do appreciate the concerns of Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth, who doesn’t like having media in the locker room while players shower and dress. He said the NFL’s policy “is dated, it’s old, and it needs to change.”

But local sports broadcasters are wary of any limitations or changes after the NFL’s own network crew positioned a camera to show naked men in the background while interviewing Bengals for the NFL Network Sunday.

John Kiesewetter

On this day in TV Kiese history… Over-the-Rhine resident James Hoskins, armed with five guns and 600 rounds of ammunition, held nine WCPO-TV employees hostage inside the station at 500 Central Avenue downtown on Oct. 15, 1980.

Hoskins, 41, gained entry after approaching reporter Elaine Green and photographer John Ehrhart with a semi-automatic rifle in the parking lot about 2 a.m., as they returned from working on a story.

Once inside, he wanted to make a statement on live television. Green instead offered to videotape him. Her 14-minute interview at gunpoint (see a clip below) won a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.

Hoskins shocked them during the interview when he confessed to murdering Melanie Finlay, 30, in their 12th Street apartment earlier that night. “I blew my girlfriend away tonight. It’s over for me… I killed her,” Hoskins said while waving the rifle.

Wikipedia

The new Comet sci-fi channel premieres here Oct. 31 on a new WSTR-TV digital signal, Channel 64.3.

Reruns of “Stargate SG-1” and “Outer Limits” will air on Comet, jointly owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Sinclair Television Group, which operates WSTR-TV and WKRC-TV.

The 24-hour network will feature “a mix of science fiction, fantasy and adventure fan-favorite titles from MGM” including the “Poltergeist” and “Dead Like Me” TV series, according to the Comet announcement.

Provided by Zac Pitts

Reporter Zac Pitts is leaving WCPO-TV to return to Dayton’s WDTN-TV, the hometown station where he started his career as a teleprompter operator.

Pitts has been a Channel 9 daytime general assignment reporter for 18 months.

Starting Oct. 21, he will appear on Channel 2's “Living Dayton” noon-1 p.m. weekday lifestyle show with co-hosts Katie Kenney and Sallie Taylor, according to TVNewsCheck.

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