These People Met Through CityBeat

Bringing people — and bands — together for 25 years

Nov 27, 2019 at 2:54 pm

click to enlarge Mike Breen and baby Nico! - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Mike Breen and baby Nico!

Baby Beat

Are there many humans who would not exist if there were never a CityBeat? I know of at least one. 

Many of the best things in my life have come as a result of me working at CityBeat, including the very best thing — my daughter, Nico. About a year after the paper started, CityBeat hired a recent Miami University grad name Amy Firis, who became the paper’s lit section and calendar editor. During a journalism conference near Chicago, sparks flew, a relationship blossomed and a few years later, long after Amy had departed CityBeat for the more lucrative world of public education, we welcomed Nico Breen into our worlds.

She is — go figure — a really good writer.

As if to hammer the connection home even more — Nico was born exactly one day after CityBeat’s founding editor John Fox’s son Jack was born… in the same hospital. She's also at the CityBeat offices for a couple of hours after school every week, waiting for dad to take her home.  If CityBeat needed a mascot, I'd nominate Nico (and then she'd murder me in my sleep).

— Mike Breen, CityBeat Managing and Music Editor

click to enlarge The CityBeat intern issue (sorry, Hannah) - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
The CityBeat intern issue (sorry, Hannah)

Meet Cute

I met my wife at CityBeat. Not through an event or a concert or even at the famed MidPoint Music Festival (back when it was good). We both worked at CityBeat.

Actually, years before we really met, we were both interning for the paper, though we worked on alternating days, so our paths didn't cross until the cover shoot for the Aug. 19, 2009 intern issue (our photos are adjacent to each other on the cover, but she won't let me take that copy out of a box in the attic anymore, something about the ’80s yearbook theme and her hair...) and even then we probably didn't say two words to each other that day.

Her first memory of me was three years later as the guy who wore a seersucker suit to a job interview at the local altweekly (in my defense, I was coming from a reporting job in Alabama). My first memory of her was the cute editor who shared a cubicle wall with me. There was a tiny window between the cubicles and I used its illogical placement to crack a joke to break the ice. That tiny window made it into my wedding vows.

We were just friends for years. We kept up as I got a reporting job in Washington, D.C., and then got laid off from that job in D.C. It felt like we talked every day. She was my best friend and confidant. I took a job back in Cincinnati working for the Business Courier, and I got her a job working there with me. When we moved to a new office, I asked our boss on the sly to put our desks next to each other.

And then, as life happens, often not as sweeping or dramatic as the movies, one day she asked me to kiss her. And that was pretty much it. Two years later we were married. She's still my best friend and confidant, and we still talk every day (to be honest, it'd be a bit weird if we didn't). 

— Andy Brownfield, Cincinnati Business Courier 

TeaDance founder Richard Cooke (left) and husband Marty Wagner - Photo: Patty Salas
Photo: Patty Salas
TeaDance founder Richard Cooke (left) and husband Marty Wagner


Almost 23 years ago we went on our first date. This was before the internet was widely available and there were certainly no social media dating apps.

I was exiting a relationship and decided to try my luck on one of the dating phone lines published at the back of CityBeat. I nervously recorded my message — it was a voicemail system. Anyone that was interested could respond to my recorded message and leave me a voicemail with contact information.

When I heard Marty’s message, I was so intrigued. I felt I had to speak to him and plucked up the courage to call him on his home phone. (Cell phones were not widely available either in those days.) We talked several times at length on the phone and decided to meet on Jan. 9, 1997. I remember it was very cold and it had snowed a lot. We decided to meet inside Tri-County Mall outside Ruby Tuesday’s. When our eyes met, it was love at first sight. It was hard to get the words out as my heart was fluttering and I could hardly breathe. We had agreed to have lunch but just chatted intensely for the whole time and didn’t eat a thing. Our stomachs were in knots with excitement and in anticipation of our next meeting.

Two weeks later we moved in together as a result of me fully exiting the relationship I was in. We’ve been together ever since and often tell our story to anyone who is inquisitive about how CityBeat brought us together. Last year we finally married and we look forward to many more fun, happy and healthy years ahead with our families and friends. 

— Richard Cooke and Martin Wagner, co-founders of Tea Dance Cincinnati

click to enlarge Black Veil Brides - Photo: Paul Harries
Photo: Paul Harries
Black Veil Brides

Meet the Band

In the past decade, the rise of social media — Facebook, in particular — and dating sites/apps killed off personal and classified ads, which had the added effect of killing a vital revenue stream for newspapers. 

The loss of such ads in CityBeat also provided a hit to local musicians in a way that probably wasn’t obvious to most. The “Musicians Exchange” section of the paper and website was quite active in our earlier years, giving local players an outlet to find gear, gigs and, most importantly, each other. 

It’s probably a lot easier these days to find a band to play with — just join a Facebook group or send a quick direct message to a friend of a friend who knows someone looking for someone. But once upon a time, such connections involved a little more legwork, be it hanging up one of those flyers in the local record store (the ones with the fringe of tear-away tabs with contact info) or contacting CityBeat’s ad sales department. 

In the ’90s and ’00s, there was a common thread in CityBeat’s stories about local bands. It seemed like every other group we profiled had formed by way of our “musician’s wanted” classifieds. Among the fruitful connections made was the Black Veil Brides. In 2006, an ambitious West Side kid named Andy Biersack used one of the ads to find musicians to fill out what became BVB. Biersack then moved the project to L.A., where they turned into international Hard Rock sensations. 

— Mike Breen, CityBeat Managing  and Music Editor