That's Entertainment?

Media Watch 

That's Entertainment?

Consider the following scenario: The company that owns your radio station has been in deep yogurt recently with Federal Communications Commission. The chairman of the FCC said in June 2004 that the parent company, Clear Channel, has been the target of more than two-thirds of the indecency fines proposed between 2000 and mid-2004. The feds are unhappy because of a stupid stunt you engineered during a presidential visit to Tucson. And your own station's license will expire in about three months--Nov. 1, to be exact.

One crazy question lingers in the wake of last week's KRQQ-sponsored rafting adventure on the Santa Cruz River: Do JohnJay and Rich have some sort of regulatory death wish, or what?

The stupidity of their intern's Aug. 23 rafting trip in the Santa Cruz River was surpassed only by Rich Berra's inane justification for the stunt, as reported in the Arizona Daily Star: "If we just did responsible things on the radio, we would not be entertaining."

Kinda makes you wonder if the morning crew is addicted to the line that "any press is good press as long as they spell the name right."

Because nothing went wrong, some folks see KRQQ's morning duo as pushing the entertainment envelope. Wacky behavior attracts listeners who wonder what those crazy guys will do next--until someone gets hurt.

If Mayor Bob Walkup, Fire Chief Dan Newburn or Police Chief Richard Miranda have half an ounce of common sense combined, they'll ask the Federal Communications Commission to find out what folks at KRQQ were thinking--assuming, of course, that anyone was thinking at all.

The FCC probably can't do a lot about the situation beyond wagging a "naughty, naughty" finger at the boys. It wasn't obscene or profane or indecent, merely stupid. (And if stupidity were against the law, most of us would be doing 20-to-life on consecutive counts.)

But then again, if a bunch of folks write the FCC and write the station, things could get a little interesting when Clear Channel applies for license renewal.


A LEGEND MOVES UP

There's been a lot of movement lately at the Arizona Daily Star, but the change that has the most immediate impact for readers will be waiting to see who replaces Joe Burchell on the City Hall beat.

Burchell, a fixture in the Star's downtown bureau for nearly 20 years, is being promoted to bureau chief and will oversee the paper's government, courts and political coverage. The shift is one of several occasioned by the departures of former metro editor Tim Konski and reporting team leader B.J. Bartlett in May. Burchell's nickname around the Star is "Chief," a tribute to both his longevity and the work he's done over the years while unofficially mentoring younger reporters in the navigation of downtown's towers of power.

He's one of the more effective and knowledgeable souls about backroom dealing around town, and he has a seasoned hunter's instinct for knowing not only what to ask, but when and where to ask it--the best way to get a real answer, instead of a "no comment," a slammed office door in the face or a sudden click on the other end of the phone.

For Tucson's sake, it is to be hoped that he'll have the chance to pass along those skills to a lot more reporters.

Admittedly, I'm a little biased about Joe. He was an easy colleague to work with at the Star. We worked together on a Sunday project that prompted the Board of Supervisors to put more muscle into litigating tax appeals, and I inherited the political beat from him for the 1987 City Council elections. (We also spent a couple of years in the cast of the now-defunct Tucson Press Club's annual Gridiron Show, hurling ourselves across the stage as members of the traditional men's ballet troupe. Not that you can take the true measure of a man by how confidently he wears a tutu.)

Part of what may make the search for a new City Hall reporter interesting is in the vaudeville adage that you never want to be the act that follows a legend. And Burchell's set the bar for city coverage rather high.

The rest of the Star middle management lineup to date: As announced a couple of weeks ago, Hipolito Corella is the new metro editor. Tiffany Kjos, formerly the business editor, returns to the northwest bureau to replace Corella as regional editor. Burchell takes over the downtown bureau from Norma Coile, who will oversee the Sunday edition. This is a pretty big deal, in that the Star is mirroring a national circulation worry--Sunday readership is slipping.


CLARIFICATION

A reader points out that Carole King wrote the song "He's So Fine," and thus was the victim of George Harrison's plagiarism, mentioned in a column a couple of weeks back on neocon columnist Ann Coulter's seeming inability to keep her eyes on her own work.


FAILED PROBATION

In the immortal words of Marine Pfc. Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

Arizona Daily Star publisher/editor David Stoeffler launched a big one in Sunday with his "form follows function" decision to rescind some of the opinion section's six-month-old design changes.

The big change amounts to playing good art smaller to make room for more words. The modular approach to the section was one of the issues that we've heard was a problem for folks in-house. As we mentioned at the time, newspaper design has always required a Procrustean state of mind--too short and we pad or stretch the story; too long, and something's cut off.

Best of all, Ann Coulter is gone in favor of Tony Snow. Snow's resume lists a journalism degree from Davidson College and more than 20 years as a real journalist who's worked for real newspapers. Apparently he's also a musician, and anyone who's jammed with Skunk Baxter or Ian Anderson's gotta be cool.

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