OTR by 5chw4r7z

Bill Cunningham Praises Progress in OTR

On May 29, Cincinnati radio talk show host Bill Cunningham praised Over-the-Rhine for over three minutes on his show. Cunningham joins a growing list of local mainstream media outlets that have caught on to Over-the-Rhine’s renaissance. The person who manages the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation’s twitter account heard the comments on the air and then found them on a podcast of his show from Cunningham’s station, 700 WLW.

After talking about the Taste of Cincinnati, Cunningham recounts the events of his Saturday night. It began by meeting Sean Donovan* and his wife M.J. at the Donovans’ downtown residence.

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/47996655" iframe="true" /]

The following is a transcription of the audio link above:

One thing I did -and if you haven’t done it you should try it- on Saturday night, I called up Sean Donovan, the next sheriff of Hamilton County, Sean Donovan and his young wife M.J. and said, “Are you available?” “Yeah, come on down.” So I go on down to his place. He lives at 9th and Vine, maybe it’s 8th and Vine, and we walked up Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine.

Now, a few years ago, the odds of Bill Cunningham and Penny Cunningham, the people’s judge, walking through Over-the-Rhine on Vine Street was zero, zilch, wouldn’t have happened, Kevlar, the most dangerous zip code in America, crime – terrible, drugs, prostitution, et cetera. We walked four or five blocks from Central Parkway north on Vine Street and I felt as warm as if in my mother’s arms. Then walked over to Washington Park. I couldn’t believe that – which is right in the front door of Music Hall. Couldn’t believe what I’m seeing. There were thousands of good people there, black and white, with so many people there had to be a valet service for all the parking. We went to three restaurants and they were packed with a two hour wait. This was like at 6:30 at night and I thought to myself “I must be living here in some alternative universe.” And this was during the so-called Taste of Cincinnati and we were north of Central Parkway well away from the Taste and the restaurants were packed. I’m thinking to myself “Something right is going on. Maybe I should spend less of my time crapping all over the city of Cincinnati and more time experiencing it” is what I thought of myself. Penny had a great time. Sean Donovan, M.J., his wife – lawyer, had a good time. I had a good time. Spent two or three hours there. None of us are drinkers but if you wanted to do that it was certainly available. So, despite what you may think to the contrary, if you live or are listening now in Butler county, or Campbell, Boone, Kenton county. If you live in Wilmington, if you live in Metamora. Think about coming to downtown Cincinnati north of downtown on Over-the-Rhine which is north of Central Parkway and walk up and down Vine Street and tell me in the days, weeks, and months ahead that you are not shocked. And if that could happen on Vine Street, it’s certainly going to happen in Pendleton which is around the casino when that opens in about 9 or 10 months. It’s really unbelievable. I am not sure right now in America – it’s the most livable place to live. It’s the greatest part of the greatest nation on earth which is the Tristate. You and I know that. Keep it quiet, don’t tell anybody. But the world is gonna figure out that Cincinnati into the 21st century will be the most dominate, the most livable, the most forward looking city in this country because of things like the Banks, South Bank, because of Over-the-Rhine, because of the casino, because of my ballpark the Great American, PBS [Paul Brown Stadium]. This is unbelievable what’s happening in Over-the-Rhine. So I’d encourage you to do it and you will be shocked by what you see. 53 minutes after the hour, Billie Cunningham, 700 WLW.

* – Sean Donovan is Chief Deputy of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Republican candidate for Hamilton County Sheriff. He lives and works downtown, supports the Cincinnati Streetcar like current Sheriff Simon Leis, held a campaign fundraiser at Venue 222 in OTR last week, and enjoys considerable support from many who believe in OTR. Last month after a close, contentious and controversial vote, the Fraternal Order of Police — Western Hamilton County Local Lodge 84 endorsed Donovan’s Democratic opponent Jim Neil.

OTR at 12th and Vine, photo by flickr user 5chw4r7z

17 comments

  1. What an amazing turnaround of opinion! It just keeps getting better and better in OTR. I am in OTR every day, have been for more than 25 years. It is so exciting to see first hand the revitalization finally taking place. Another observation: There are no national chain stores/resaurants or fast food chains in OTR. How cool is that?!

  2. Bill Cunningham singing the praises of Downtown Cincinnati… “I must be living in some sort of alternative universe!”

    Pretty unbelievable, but exciting. You know when Willie finally admits it, there’s something special going on.

  3. Notice how when he lists things about why Cincinnati will be “the most livable, the most forward looking city in this country,” he manages to mention the two stadiums and not the streetcar.

  4. I randomly caught this on the radio and couldn’t believe my ears! It was really cool to hear, although the “in my mother’s arms” comment was a funny bit of hyperbole. I mean, really? Nonetheless, it’s great to get this kind of positivity from him.

  5. I’m glad we heard this and were able to share. The work you guys are doing is an inspiration to us and is helping to pave the way for changes along our business district. A strong core is making places like Walnut Hills a more viable option for residents and businesses. Thanks for your hard work!

  6. I wouldn’t make too much of this comment. Yes, it’s great that all of our local media outlets are finally singing the praises of Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. WCPO ran a story, WKRC followed up with another one, and now even WLW is realizing they can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes and badmouth the city anymore.

    But keep in mind that Bill Cunningham’s on-air persona is not the same as the real world Bill Cunningham. All of the hate he has spewed in the past about the city was simply to get ratings. And his new position on OTR is also just to get ratings.

    My point is that we should not assume that the local media is now “on our side.” They are going to continue to run negative stories anytime there is a crime, a business closes, or the city invests taxpayer dollars into the urban core or enacts a pro-urban policy. But they will run positive stories as new businesses open, downtown population increases, and we continue to see a trend of less crime each year. Eventually the good stories will crowd out the negative ones, and the general public’s perception will continue to shift more positive each year.

  7. Just remember all he is interested in is listener count. If this show generates a landslide of haters calling in all the better for him. Don’t mistake his comments for anything more than they are.

  8. Regardless of his motivations and future statements, these three minutes gives those of us who are way ahead of the local media curve some ammunition when informing those who are stubbornly ignorant on matters related to OTR (these same people tend to be Bill Cunningham listeners).

    I look forward to the day when he admits how wrong he was about the streetcar system.

  9. Good to some positive comments from Bill Cunningham. Emanuel Community Center, across the street from Music Hall, is also part of the Renaissance.

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