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Patty Signs Off

Local geography puts an interesting twist on the expected departure this week of Patty Weiss from the anchor desk at KVOA Channel 4, after 30 years of telling Tucson what it did that day.

She's departing the television news scene about three blocks from where it all started in 1971. Fresh out of college, Weiss joined the newsroom payroll at KOLD Channel 13, which at the time was on East Drachman Street, next to the Tucson Inn. That's where she got the break in mid-1972 that made her a pioneer among women in Arizona broadcast news. "I was anchoring a morning show, at 10 or 11, and producing the 5 p.m. news. John C. Scott was the anchor. He walked in one day a couple of minutes before the show and said, 'Well, I've just announced that I'm running for the Legislature," Weiss said Saturday.

"You couldn't put someone on the air who's running for public office, so Paul Plunkett, the general manager, said, 'Patty, you'll have to anchor the show tonight.'

"If John had given more than a few minutes' notice, I don't think I would have gotten the job," she added.

(Scott, running as John Scott Ulm, announced his state Senate candidacy before the Democrats of Greater Tucson May 31, 1972. He won and served one term.)

Weiss left KOLD in 1973 for the ABC affiliate in San Diego, and accepted KVOA's offer to return to Tucson in 1975.

"I tried to count the number of co-anchors I've had, and I think it's somewhere in the 20s," she said, adding that the first at Channel 4 was another Tucson TV news pioneer, Hank Hubbard.

It's been roughly seven months since the station took Weiss, 54, out of the 10 p.m. anchor slot in favor of Kristi Tedesco, 34, who, like Weiss, is a product of local schools. Weiss said it's taken a long time for the hurt to go away, but says that she's at peace with the decision to leave Channel 4.

She added that she's not thinking about another broadcasting job at the moment. Instead, she's planning on doing a lot of traveling with husband Alan Gelenburg--especially during the ratings "sweeps." "This is really like starting a new chapter," Weiss said. "I will have to do something that's psychologically important--clean out the drawers and cupboards in my mind."

She said that she plans to wait on a new job until she finds the right fit, adding that she looks forward to a solid future.

"My dad (artist Duane Bryers) is 94, and he still paints and sells his paintings. If he can do that, I think I can retire with another 30 years of doing something equally fulfilling."


TRAVEL IS SO BROADENING

It was a little surprising to hear that Jane Amari, editor and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star since November 1999, will leave the job later this summer to become a freelance newspaper consultant.

(We don't know if her resignation is conditional, based on the fact that Lee Enterprises' takeover of Pulitzer Inc., isn't yet a done deal. We're pretty sure Pulitzer's shareholders will approve the sale June 3, seeing as the family trust's shares alone equal about 60 percent of the voting power. But there is the matter of that pesky shareholder litigation challenging the sale as putting the family's interests ahead of the outside shareholders. The suits were consolidated April 27. Pulitzer's folks say the suit is without merit, but you never know how a judge would look at some of the issues, like the size of "probably to be terminated" Pulitzer CEO Robert Woodworth's golden parachute--at least $8 million worth of happy landings.)

Barstool philosophers in the news business--you'll know them by the "I'm not cynical, just experienced" buttons on their lapels--are fond of saying that "consultant" is a euphemism for "unemployed newspaper exec looking for steady work."

We're not sure that's true in this case. As she told the Arizona Daily Star, which used the story as its lead squib in the May 20 Industry News and Notes column, she likes it here, and a couple of family members have also settled here.

And she told Associated Press writer Art Rotstein, "With the sale, financially I have an opportunity to try something, and I just feel like I want to do this." (Our guess is that "financially" is a veiled reference to her piece of the executive transition and retention bonuses Pulitzer Inc. announced last year. See "What Price Brains?" from Jan. 6, 2005).

The thing about consulting in the news biz is that it may be lucrative, and the travel takes you to all sorts of interesting places, but it's often a thankless task.

Truth is, most folks--especially reporters--in a newsroom have the same feelings about a consultant that most of us save for life's truly special moments, like finding out that you've been scheduled for a colonoscopy on your birthday. Stopping a charging rhino with a foam rubber football often seems easier than getting newspaper folks to try on some new ideas, and that's why consultants approach their clients with one of two basic mindsets: Either you go in offering a plan, knowing full well that after you leave, the natives will gradually dismantle it and revert to their old way, or you treat it as a corporate turnaround job and stick around to work out the bugs and get everyone moving in the new direction.

Amari's called a tough new task down on herself, and having seen the rough lot consultants endure, we wish her the best of luck.


MEANWHILE

Arizona Daily Star metro editor Tim Konski is also packing up. He's moving on to the city editor's job at the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise.

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