The history of WEBN’s fireworks

People who staked their spot on the Serpentine Wall early for the fireworks show in 1991 enjoyed the warm weather and last days of summer.

Note: This story was originally published Sept. 2, 2016.

It all began as a birthday party.

What is now called the Western & Southern/WEBN Fireworks at Riverfest started when radio station WEBN-FM celebrated 10 years on the air back in 1977. People had such a blast that on Sunday they will be doing it again for the 40th time.

The fireworks show was the brainchild of Frank “Bo” Wood Jr., WEBN’s general manager and president at the time.

“I thought it would be fun to have a birthday party for the whole city and do something they’ve never seen before,” Wood told the Enquirer in 1978. “Since we’re a radio station we decided to broadcast music to go with the display, multimedia fireworks. It worked beyond anyone’s expectations.”

That’s putting it mildly.

The station promoted the party on the air and in print ads in newspapers. And that was it.

The first fireworks show was held on Aug. 30, 1977 – a Tuesday night. There was no police traffic control, no parking at Riverfront Stadium. Crowds flooded both sides of the Ohio River.

“We had no idea that thousands would show up,” recalled former WEBN DJ Tom Sandman. “It was the height of FM radio. People responded to a free fireworks show and music by the river.”

DJ Glenn Gaskins produced a mix of song cues on reels loosely synchronized to the spectacular pyrotechnic show by Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks.

The whole city then got involved in a repeat the following year when the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra held an all-day event along the river – and Riverfest was born.

The main attraction, of course, was the WEBN fireworks.

Fireworks light up the sky over the City of Cincinnati with a vantage point from the Queens Tower in East Price Hill celebrating Labor Day with a Riverfest celebration in 2010.

By the third year, Riverfest had become a Cincinnati tradition and the unofficial signal for the end of the summer.

“We didn’t have any of the sophisticated computer equipment fireworks companies now have,” said Sandman, who produced the soundtrack for the shows from 1980 to 1982.

By Sandman’s time, the music was cut into pieces and put onto numbered tape cartridges – called carts in the radio biz – that are similar to 8-track cartridges.

Source link

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button