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Kiser Bidding Adieu to the 'Star'

Columnist Jim Kiser, who has been at the Arizona Daily Star for a combined total of nearly 20 years, will leave the newspaper on June 2.

Kiser inquired in February about cutting back from three columns per week to two, because the amount of reporting and research required to produce pieces was, as he put it, "a very heavy burden" that was "dominating my life to an extent that I just didn't want it to."

However, management wasn't willing to let him ease up, he said, even though he offered to take a proportionate cut in pay.

"So I chose to leave," said Kiser, 62. "The technicality is that I'm retiring, but that's only a technicality. I'm going to find something else to do and do it."

Kiser admitted he was "deeply disappointed" by management's decision, but he still had praise for the Star.

"Nobody ever told me not to write something, and nobody told me to write something--I was given complete freedom," he said. "All of that, I really value and respect."

Kiser said the column gave him a forum to highlight issues he felt were important, citing the predatory practices of payday loan centers as an example.

"I loved writing the column, and I didn't realize when I started it how much I would enjoy and value it," he said. "I've gotten what seems to me to be remarkable feedback from readers."

Teri Hayt, managing editor at the Star, praised Kiser's "grace and tenacity."

"He has been a very important voice to the Star, and, of course, we will miss that voice," she said. "But we wish him well in whatever endeavor he pursues."

Hayt said there were no immediate plans to find someone to replace that voice.

Kiser worked at the Star for six years in the '70s, and then returned in 1993 as editorial page editor. His column started running in September 2004.

Kiser was mum on the subject of his final piece, which is scheduled to appear May 28. --S.B.


KJLL SILENT OVER STATUS OF TWO EMPLOYEES

The mystery continues over what happened to the jobs of two high-ups at KJLL-AM 1330, The Jolt.

On May 9, the Arizona Daily Star stated that Jerry Misner, general manager, and Stan Wald, general sales manager, were no longer employed at the radio station. But it wasn't clear if they had been fired or had resigned, the Star reported.

Misner told the Weekly that he arrived at work to find the contents of his office packed in boxes and placed in storage, his locks changed and his e-mail disconnected.

"But they refused to fire me," he said. "Isn't that bizarre?"

Both Misner and Wald said they were unable to give further details, pending a meeting they had scheduled with attorney Don Awerkamp.

"I can tell you that as near as I can tell at this particular point and time, I'm not fired," Misner said. "On the other hand, I won't resign."

A call placed to the general manager's office at The Jolt was transferred to Kimberley Lopez, the station's business manager. She said the owner was not available and that she had been instructed not to comment on the situation.

Still, Lopez denied that the locks to Misner's office had been changed. She also said that neither Misner nor Wald had been fired or had resigned, contradicting the Star story in which she reportedly said Wald had quit.

Wald, who has been with The Jolt since December 2005, said he sent out an e-mail on accident that was essentially a "farewell letter" to his clients, in anticipation of a personnel shake-up. But he never formally turned in a letter of resignation to anyone, he said.

Still, Wald was clear that his job at The Jolt is no more.

"Do I expect to be going back there?" he repeated, after being asked. "When hell freezes over. You can print that." --S.B.


KNST NAMES PARISI AS MORNING SHOW HOST

Clear Channel stalwart KNST-AM 790 stayed in house and moved Joe Parisi into the lead chair during its morning drive talk block. Parisi worked alongside former host Dave Skyler for a number of years.

"I was working with Dave and kind of sneaking in opinions, and some listeners had gotten to know me a little bit," Parisi said. "When this job opened up, I got a lot of mail. Sometimes, you're not sure if they notice the subtlety of what you're trying to do. It was real encouraging to know they noticed the subtlety, and I was really excited."

A native of the East Coast, Parisi is making the move from the more familiar digs of straight news--he's served in a news director capacity at nine stations--to an aspect of radio that focuses more on the desire to entertain within an editorial format.

"I've had a long career doing straight news and usually deal with news management, and I could never give an opinion on anything," Parisi said. "To be able to just relax and recognize that I've spent enough years in the industry and with life experience, that takes away the insecurity. People kind of talked me into going for it."

But because of his news background, Parisi views the job with a level of responsibility perhaps not appreciated by on-air talent making the transition from other media realms.

"I have fun and have some laughs, but I realize I'm giving information, and there's some guy out there who might actually be listening," Parisi said. "I can't just have fun with it like a disc jockey might. I have to realize that someone sees me as having a position of some influence in this city. What these people say on the show matters, and I take it seriously. It's gotten to be a pretty hefty job."

KNST has long been a conservative talk station, and it's long been rated No. 1 in the AM market. It runs talk powers Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity back-to-back. As the lead-in, Parisi certainly has conservative tendencies, but considers himself an open-minded host who usually, but doesn't always, walk the familiar right-wing line.

"I don't have a preconceived belief on anything," Parisi said. "I can be convinced by a logical argument on virtually any position. If the logic points me in a certain way, I'm going that way. It doesn't matter if I'm supposed to be one way or the other because that's the history of the station or that's what Rush Limbaugh does. (KNST management) gave me permission to be myself and not worry whether I'm being Republican or Democrat, or whether I'm supposed to lean this way. Yeah, there are going to be people who wished I was more extreme one way or the other, but there seems to be many, many more that are more moderate that are jumping in."

One of those issues involves his stance on a particular part of the heated immigration debate.

"One issue that came up when I was working with Dave was whether an illegal immigrant crosses the border and has a baby, that baby is immediately a citizen," said Parisi. "It was the going mood that shouldn't be the case, and if we exported some illegals back to Mexico, the children should go back, too. I got some heat, because I said I'd like to make a judgment call on each family and whether someone is integrated in our country. If it's virtually foreign for the children to be going to Mexico, I'm not sure we should be forcing them to go back. The traditional callers in the previous regime would have varied strongly from my belief on that."

Skyler's departure was not a quiet one, and on his final day, he made some less-than-flattering comments about KNST and Program Director Alan Cook.

This is a somewhat rambling excerpt from Skyler's final show, which aired Jan. 13.

Skyler: "I resigned to the program director yesterday, and he said, 'Oh.' It's always nice to call the program director, say I'm going to quit, and he says, 'Oh.' He said I'll have to call the operations manager. He waited four hours ... maybe he was sleeping or something, napping ... anyway, so he calls me back four hours later and says, 'Business as usual tomorrow. So do you want the two weeks?' Nicest guy in the whole world. Is he the worst program director? I'm sorry, nicest guy in the whole world."

This was followed by typical morning show laughter, of which Parisi was a part. Now, in the realm of radio personality outbursts against station management, the Skyler farewell hardly makes a blip on the radar, but it's still an issue Parisi had to clear up before replacing his longtime friend, who moved back to Los Angeles.

"Dave Skyler still is a friend, but he's L.A., talent, and he looked at life a little bit differently," Parisi said. "He had a lot of pride, and he didn't like some things that were happening, and he speaks his mind. At least I can't say he's one of those guys who did something underhanded. I think his feelings were a little hurt by things that didn't happen the way he wanted them to. Sometimes, you say things, and you wish you could pull them back. I've been there. I'll tell you that. I've said some things I'd like to pull back. Dave, at that point, knew he was going back home, but there were some frustrations in the differences in market size. Whether that's a good trait or bad trait is in the eye of the beholder. This guy's big time, and he does it big time. I got along with him real well, and we did a hell of a show for a couple of years." --J.S.

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