Sunday, July 01, 2001

Former broadcaster thrives as florist

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        She used to worry about radio and TV ratings.

        Now Robin Wood's biggest concern is keeping leaves and flower fragments out of her sugar bowl and butter dish.

        “There's a lily stamen in my butter, and a stem in my sugar bowl. No family should be expected to live like this,” says Ms. Wood, who chucked a 28-year radio-TV career last September to become a floral designer.

Robin Wood
Robin Wood
        She operates Robin Wood Flowers in the kitchen of her Hyde Park home. Next month she will open a shop next to Spaces, Jerry Ewers' design company at 1909 Dana Ave., Evanston.

        When she's out buying flowers from wholesalers, or making a delivery, everyone asks the same question: Do you miss radio or television?

        “No,” she tells them. “I loved it, and I had plenty of it. I just had enough.”

        Rockin' Robin, daughter of WEBN-FM (102.7) founder Frank Wood Sr. and sister of former General Manager Frank Wood Jr., started at the family radio station in 1972, making her on-air debut in 1974. For 20 years, she was the sultry Dawn Patrol morning host (1975-95).

        She moved in 1995 to the sister classic rock station, now WOFX-FM (92.5), before becoming a reporter for WKRC-TV, another sister station. She left Channel 12 in September after being told her six-year contract, dating back to WEBN-FM, would not be renewed.

        So she turned to flowers, her other passion, for a second career. She often found solace in her Hyde Park garden during difficult times, like trying to launch classic rock WPPT-FM (“The Point”) in 1995, the precursor to FOX92.5.

        Business has been blooming, despite a lack of promotion, marketing and retail space.

        Word of mouth among friends, and friends of friends, has kept her kitchen crowded. Husband Lee and two teen-age daughters, Sadie, 15 1/2, and Libby, 14, constantly have to dodge dozens of black plastic buckets filled with cut flowers.

        “My kitchen is a combination of the smell of roses, bacon cooking and a wet dog,” she says on a recent weekday morning while awaiting her “delivery guy” to pick up completed arrangements.

        “There's always something on my stick of butter. That happens when you're cutting flowers on the counter, near the sugar and butter and breakfast dishes.”

        She has enjoyed working from home, especially summers with her daughters. Sadie, who just got her temporary driver's license, has logged lots of miles with Mom picking up flowers from wholesalers.

        “If I could make a living by working out of the house, I would,” she says. “But I need more space.”

        Soon after her Evanston shop opens, her husband will be making a career change. Lee Ferguson, a Procter & Gamble commercial director for 20 years, plans to open his own business when P&G eliminates his position in October, she says.

        Perhaps they could offer a package deal — he would direct the spots and she would do the voice-over. Ms. Wood has continued her radio voice work for Just Saab, an account that predates her move to Channel 12 in 1997. She also does voice-overs for the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and James Free Jewelers.

        That's as close as she wants to be to broadcasting. Her total focus is on growing Robin Wood Flowers.

        “I'm really having a lot of fun,” she says. “I look forward to doing this every day, and that's a great feeling.”


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