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Radio Tanque Verde?

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing competing applications from two FM radio station owners, each of whom would like to be the first to build a station to serve the Tanque Verde community.

And one of them has proposed to the FCC that it would like to locate its transmitter tower on the slopes of Gibbon Mountain in the Santa Catalinas. That could be a little tricky, seeing as that's part of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area.

This is rather similar to the "Is Davis-Monthan Air Force Base a community for FCC licensure purposes?" conundrum we've been watching a while. ("Radio DMAFB Drama, Act II," July 7.) There's one key difference, however. The U.S. Census Bureau considers Tanque Verde a "Census Designated Place," which goes a good distance toward meeting the FCC's definition of a community. D-M lost that distinction with the 1990 Census.

Let's meet the competitors. The owners of Sierra Vista's KZMK-FM--CCR-Sierra Vista IV, LLP (a limited liability partnership owned by two limited liability corporations), want to close the station and transfer the frequency to Tanque Verde. Ted Tucker, the reclusive ex-Tucsonan who owns Cochise Broadcasting and Desert West Air Ranchers, wants the FCC to let him juggle previously approved frequencies, which would allow him to build stations in the Tanque Verde area and two villages in New Mexico, Animas and Virden.

When the KZMK proposal initially went to the FCC's desk, the agency was interested, but said KZMK hadn't done enough to show that Tanque Verde met the agency's definition of a community. In the initial filing, KZMK's owners said only that Tanque Verde was a Census Designated Place outside Tucson's city limits. The station's 66-page follow-up report, filed Sept. 19, offered more detail to meet the FCC's test.

The fact that the KZMK proposal calls for placing the transmitter on Gibbon Mountain sounded an alarm in Tucker's counterproposal. Tucker's proposal also contends that KZMK application understates "gray" and "white" areas (areas with little or no radio service) near Sierra Vista that would result from the move, and that the original application should have detailed the community arguments the first time around.

So far, on the "dueling copiers" scale, Tucker's counterproposal weighs in at 152 pages against KZMK's 66 pages. (And we're sure the office clerks are thrilled at breathing in all that toner residue.) There's more small-scale deforestation to come: The deadline for both sides to respond to each other was Tuesday, Oct. 4.

By the way, the aforementioned battle between Lakeshore Media (read: Clear Channel) and Journal Broadcasting over the Davis-Monthan application has been quiet since July 28. No word yet on when the feds will rule.


OMINOUS PROMOTION

We came home to our apartment one day last week to find an interesting tag hanging on the door knob. It was a fundraising solicitation from the management for "Big Hearts for Little Hands," a charity effort backed by the Arizona Multihousing Association, the trade association that represents apartment owners. Funds raised through the campaign will benefit New Beginnings for Women and Children, a shelter for homeless families.

The ominous part was on the back. The question, "How can I help children in Tucson?" appeared in large black type. The answer, in red: "Subscribe to The Arizona Republic and benefit New Beginnings."

According to the doorhanger, the state's largest newspaper will donate $5 if you take advantage of their offer to get three months for the price of two, or $10 for customers who sign up to use the Republic's EasyPay automatic payment plan.

Wowsers. The Tucson Citizen is the city's third-oldest continuously operating business. Could this be Dylan's "long black cloud" starting to come down on the paper's stalwarts?


SPJ, TAKE TWO

Dave Ricker, the media relations guy for Pima County Superior Court and a pretty fair radio journalist in another day, says that the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists lasted a little longer than I noted last week. Ricker, a former local chapter president, said the group stayed together at least into the late-1980s.

It did a lot of stout work over the years, sponsoring numerous televised political debates and roasting such luminaries as Barry Goldwater, Mo Udall, Bruce Babbitt and judge Tom Meehan to raise funds for scholarships.

My apologies to all for the oversight.


NIFTY WORK

Give Ryan J. Stanton and the Explorer a hand for the two-part series that wrapped up last week on a federal racketeering suit filed against DexMedia. Stanton did a nice job of connecting the dots between some of Dex's allegedly shady practices and some of the deals former Marana Mayor Bobby Sutton Jr. made as a Dex salesman.

A federal grand jury in April indicted Sutton on one count each of conspiracy and attempted extortion in connection with an alleged scheme to extort money and a job for Richard Arthur Westfall, a trucking contractor. The grand jury indicted Westfall on one count each of conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements.


HELP WANTED

Consider this a call for a successor. I'm returning to central California and mainstream journalism in a couple of weeks as an assistant metro editor at The Fresno Bee.

The Media Watch columnist's job description is simple: The successful applicant needs a good background in local newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, Internet and other publishing media. And the successful applicant should check all conflict of interest baggage at the door.

Interested parties should contact Jimmy Boegle via mailbag@tucsonweekly.com.

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