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KMSB Pleased With On-the-Fly Election-Night Newscast

Election coverage was anything but business as usual for KMSB Channel 11. Generally, media outlets have a plan in place long before the actual event, but KMSB was saddled with some 11th-hour roadblocks.

The Fox affiliate showcases its 9 p.m. newscast with a limited local on-air contingent. Four people make up the news team, and two of those handle sports responsibilities. To fill the void, Fox teams with KVOA Channel 4 as part of a working trade agreement. KVOA reporters will do stories with a KMSB tagline at the end, and KMSB reporters in turn do the same thing for KVOA. Meanwhile, the anchor desk and actual production aspect of everything other than the sports reports is handled out of the KTVK studios in Phoenix. Phoenix personality Heather Moore is the weeknight anchor.

But on election night, KTVK was unavailable, because it made a late decision to increase its local election coverage.

"We had been planning all along to work with KTVK the same as we always do, with Heather in the newsroom and (KMSB reporters Ryan O'Donnell and Deanna Morgan) in the field, and it would all be handled by the Phoenix newsroom," said KMSB creative services director Brian Baltosiewich, who was on the news production side of things during the Tuesday, Nov. 7, endeavor--which ended up being what's believed to be the first completely self-contained newscast broadcast from the KMSB studios in two decades.

"Late Monday morning, KTVK told us, 'We're going wall to wall from 8:30 until 10 or 11. We're not going to have enough time to do your newscast. We would like it if you could carry our newscast,' and Deanna and Ryan would be part of what they were doing. The general feeling is that wouldn't serve Tucson viewers, because it would be a very Phoenix-centric coverage. Late Monday morning, it was decided we would do it here on our own. What other stations spend weeks putting together, we had 36 hours."

The first order of business was finding someone to handle anchor duties. The station opted for sports anchor Vinnie Vinzetta.

"Generally, the election can be a tough night, but Vinnie did an exemplary job of making sure we were on track," said General Manager Tod A. Smith. "I really liked that he gave some background on the propositions, of which there were a multitude. He spent time trying to explain what each proposition was, and I think that was helpful. I got some comments from people saying they really appreciated that."

While it might have looked odd for viewers to see Vinzetta in a scaled-down studio--compared to the often opulent sets on display at other news outlets--station management was pleased with the results, all in all.

"The things that went wrong for us are things that could have gone wrong in any newscast. They didn't go wrong because it was election night," Baltosiewich said. "What we did and what we pulled off in 36 hours was pretty good."

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