Sunday, March 14, 2004

Hispanic anchor debuts on Channel 12

Mixed media

Jim Knippenberg

Time to say hello to Cincinnati's newest anchor. She's Sasha Rionda, anchor of Channel 12's Nuestro Rincon, the new Spanish language news broadcast airing at 5:30-6 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

She made her debut this week, just two weeks after moving from Atlanta and several jobs with CNN.

Rionda could actually do the news in any number of languages: She speaks English, Spanish, French and German, thanks to a Mexican father and Swiss mother.

"I had been wanting to do a Spanish newscast for a long time," she said at a cocktail party last week. "I tried to push it in Atlanta, but it went nowhere. Then my agent called with this, and I jumped on it in a minute."

Rionda and Nuestro Rincon producer Francisco Cacerea, a recent transplant from Channel 9, are planning to concentrate on a hard news approach on Saturdays and more of a magazine format on Sundays. Like today, where the centerpiece was a lengthy feature on the band Puerto Rican Power.

When she's not on the air, Rionda is busy learning about the city. "I'm so new here. I have some exploring to do."

News at 9

These are bittersweet times in the Channel 9 newsroom. Bitter because of the criminal charges surrounding reporter Stephen Hill, who was fired from the station Thursday afternoon amid allegations that he sexually abused four teenage boys. Sweet because of a spectacular ratings performance.

Nobody's saying much about the Hill case, at least not for the record. General manager Bill Fee kept it terse: "Stephen Hill is no longer employed by WCPO-TV as of March 11, 2004. Consistent with station policy, WCPO-TV will refrain from further comment on Mr. Hill's employment, or the ending of his employment."

Both Fee and the station have been praised for their handling of the story. Fee again: "It's extra difficult when one of your employees is the subject of a news story. Nevertheless, we made the decision early on to pursue the story as aggressively as we would any story involving a high-profile media person."

Off the record, a co-worker says, "Many people here are devastated by this but still very much supportive of Stephen. The Stephen we know could never do any of these things."

The good news is the most recent ratings book. Channel 9 won the 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. news slots for the third time in a row.

According to the February book, TV 9 leads at 5 p.m. with an 8.4 rating (one ratings point equals slightly more than 8,500 homes); Channel 12 is No. 2 with a 6.7; TV 5 is No. 3 with a 4.7. WCPO got an 8.8 at 5:30 and a 9.2 at 6.

"And you know what?" Fee asks. "We're going to make it four in a row with the next book."

Channel 12 remains the leader at 11 p.m. with a 13.4 rating; Channel 9 has an 8.7 and Channel 5 stands at 7.7. Channel 19's 10 p.m. news checked in with 7.9 and TV 64 came in with a 1.0.

Local makes good

Look who's on General Hospital: It's Norwood native Amanda Tepe. She was on the show last Thursday and Friday playing Enid, and will turn up again March 23.

You'll also be seeing her soon on the big screen in Iowa with Rosanna Arquette and Matt Farnsworth.

Tepe also has a number of other film credits, including Framed, Heroine Helen and High Crimes.

Gone but not forgotten

Reader Evelyn Coleman wants to know what happened to Channel 19 weekend anchor and frequent sports reporter Andy Treinen. He worked at the station 1994-2003.

Channel 19 spokesman Tony Phillips says he moved to Milwaukee in June of 2003 to take over as co-anchor of WTMJ's Daybreak (morning news), mid-day anchor and reporter.

"It was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. But since he is Cincinnati native, don't be surprised if you see him on local airwaves again in the future," Phillips said.

Hmmm. Is that some kind of hint?


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