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.
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.