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Bruce Out, Black In at KIIM

Radio morning drive stalwart Betsy Bruce was removed from the KIIM-FM morning show last week, and that decision has set into motion a ripple effect that will lead to changes at three stations within the Citadel organization.

Part one: Bruce has been replaced by Shannon Black, who has joined Max (Herb Crowe) and Porkchop (Brett Miller) on the highly rated morning show. Bruce remains employed at Citadel and will likely accept a news/personality position alongside The Shootout crew weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at 1290 AM The Source.

Part two: Promoting Black left a vacancy in the 9 a.m. to noon airtime slot, but that is now occupied by Dusty Chandler. Chandler was the program director of 97.5 FM Bob, but he was reassigned when Bob, a format dedicated to hits from the '70s, '80s and '90s, became completely automated with no DJ presence.

Part three: Kricket, Bob's other DJ, will be reassigned as well. Her exact duties remain unclear, although sources within the building indicate Kricket could become a traffic reporter. This would be the first step toward creating an in-house traffic reporting presence, similar to what rival Clear Channel does. This might jeopardize Citadel's relationship with Metro Networks.

For Bruce, it brings a temporary end to a three-station 15-year presence on Tucson morning radio. Her well-regarded reputation was honed during her stint with KRQQ as part of the Mojo and Betsy tandem. She spent a brief time in the Journal organization at what was then 104.1 The Point (KZPT) and joined the KIIM morning show three years ago.

"What I was told by (Citadel station manager) Ken Kowalcek after I got off the air Monday (Feb. 27) was there was no chemistry between me and Max (who doubles as operations manager at Citadel), and therefore I was going to be reassigned," Bruce said. "They would like very much to use my talents on sister station 1290 AM The Source. They weren't very specific as to where I would fit in. It was like I would sit down with program director Chuck Meyer and figure out where I would fit in. They were very adamant about wanting me to stay on and work at the sister station, but the bottom line was they said there was no chemistry between Max and I. We were No. 1. You can imagine I've been having lots of questions in my mind, but I'm walking with my head held high."

If Bruce takes the news position with 1290 AM, she would likely be more involved in the flow of the show, but that would feature a fourth voice on The Shootout, which teams KOLD-TV personalities Laurence Scott, Arran Andersen and Scott Kilbury.

"I'm a little bit worried about that because at this point they want me to do the news and then somehow eventually incorporate myself, but my instinct, my talent is to mingle and interject and make conversation fun and witty and entertaining," Bruce said. "I hope there's room for me."


BLACK WELCOMES UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITY

Meanwhile, the new opening is a dream come true for Black, a 13-year veteran of Tucson radio.

"Actually, when they called me in I thought I was going to get fired. I can't believe it," Black said. "When they asked me I about fell out of my chair. It's the best thing ever. I can't even imagine. You grow up listening to KIIM-FM, but you don't think you're ever going to be asked to be on the morning show. Maybe get the coffee for the morning show, but not being in the room and get paid to talk."

Her role as part of the Max, Shannon and the Porkchop morning team will be to bring a new, lighter delivery to the equation.

"Like entertainment gossipy fun stuff. I love to go out. I love the concerts, love the music and I just love to talk," Black said. "I think they think I bring a sort of crazy excitement to the morning show. I've been listening to country music from when I've grown up since that's what my mom listens to. Now that I work at KIIM-FM she's actually listening to me for the first time since 1992 when I started radio in town."

It's natural to expect some bumps in the road when a new piece is added to the on-air puzzle, but Black says her interaction with Max and Porkchop was smooth.

"It felt absolutely normal, like we've been doing it all the time," Black said. "It didn't seem weird, where we had to have that growing pains period. 'I don't want to step on you. Can I talk here; can you talk there?' It just kind of flowed with the three of us, which is hard."


KMSB ENHANCES SPORTS COMMITMENT

KMSB Fox 11 is making a concerted effort to become recognizable in the community from a sports standpoint.

On-air talents Vinny Vinzetta and Brandon Nash now anchor the sports segment from Tucson. Up until three weeks ago that responsibility rested upon an anchor desk in Phoenix. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. KMSB was the only television station that sent a live body to the UA men's basketball team road series in the Bay Area. Whether station management considers this a viable financial option for football and basketball next season remains to be seen.

The KMSB crew also intends to expand its Sunday-night program, the Fox Sports Force, to the top of the hour during the UA's anticipated stay in the NCAA Tournament. Currently, the Fox Sports Force follows an abbreviated Sunday-night newscast at 9 p.m. and concludes at 9:45 p.m. The plan is to add 15 minutes during March Madness.

More by John Schuster

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