WCPO To Air Documentary About Cincinnati Who Concert Tragedy on 40th Anniversary

'The Who: The Night That Changed Rock' — airing Dec. 3 — features interviews with The Who's Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, as well as survivors and family and friends of the 11 fans who died that night in 1979

click to enlarge Pete Townshend in WCPO's 'The Who: The Night That Changed Rock' - Screenshot
Screenshot
Pete Townshend in WCPO's 'The Who: The Night That Changed Rock'
WCPO has announced that its documentary The Who: The Night That Changed Rock — about the 1979 Rock concert at Riverfront Coliseum that left 11 area fans dead — will air on the 40th anniversary of the tragedy.

The film features interviews with The Who's Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, as well as survivors and family and friends of the 11 fans who died that night in the crush to get into the venue before the concert.

The Who: The Night That Changed Rock is scheduled to air on WCPO at 8 p.m on Dec. 3, 40 years to the day after the horrific events.

The Who posted an announcement about the WCPO original special on its website. The post says it is Townshend and Daltrey's "very first long-form television interview about what happened 40 years ago when 11 people died outside Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio."

WCPO's Tanya O'Rourke created and hosts the documentary. She grew up in Finneytown, where three of the 11 people who died at the concert also lived.

"Along the way, (O'Rourke) and the WCPO team discovered the long-term effect the tragedy had on concerts across the country as well as on the individuals who survived the incident and the family members of those who did not," a press release for the special says.

Supporters of a memorial scholarship fund in Finneytown called The P.E.M. Memorial — named after Stephan Preston, Jackie Eckerle and Karen Morrison, the three Finneytown High School students killed that night — posted their appreciation for the documentary on the project's Facebook page today. The group says the seeds for the documentary project were planted "many moons ago," and that the special tells the story "of this pivotal event from a first-hand perspective through many different people including survivors from the plaza, a first to the scene medical responder, the families of P.E.M. and more."

"This was not an easy process in any way, shape or form for anyone involved; but, a HUGE THANK YOU must go out to all the participants for placing their trust in The P.E.M. Memorial and Tanya O'Rourke to do this in the right manner and allow their stories to be heard publicly," the post says.

As of Dec. 3 this year, The P.E.M. Memorial will have provided 30 scholarships for Finneytown High School graduating seniors "majoring or minoring in the fields of music and/or the arts." Find out more about the P.E.M. scholarships at pemmemorial.org.

In a clip from the special, Townshend says, "You know, I’m still traumatized by it. It’s a weird thing to have in your autobiography that, you know, 11 kids died at one of your concerts.

"It’s a strange, disturbing, heavy load to carry.”

“That dreadful night of the third of December became one of the worst dreams I’ve had in my life,” Daltrey says in the special.

Out-of-towners can stream the special at WCPO.com at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3. On Dec. 4, an expanded version of the special will be available to stream on the WCPO app. Get more info about the ways to watch the special here.




Scroll to read more Music Feature articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.