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Evans Opts for Corporate Security of the 'Citizen'

Mark Evans' decade-long tenure at the Explorer came to an end earlier this year. The longtime editor of the northwest-side weekly publication accepted a position as assistant city editor with the Tucson Citizen.

"The primary reason was I turned 40 last year, and you do that typical thing where you look at what you've done so far and what you have to do over the next 25 years to fulfill the American-retire-at-65 paradigm," Evans said. "I couldn't get promoted at the Explorer, so the only way I could keep moving up in terms of salary and income is for the paper to grow, and while the paper was growing, it just wasn't growing at a rate I needed to get the salary I needed and retirement benefits I needed to make me accomplish what I needed over the next 25 years.

"There are opportunities to advance here at the Citizen as well, and a few years down the road, when my daughter is out of high school and college, there are other places within the Gannett corporate chain."

The Explorer's growth--a weekly circulation of 48,000--reflects the population boom experienced on the northwest side. Evans was instrumental in keeping the publication up to speed. Now it's a different world.

"I went from the top of a small totem pole to the bottom of the middle of another one," Evans said. "But sources are sources and facts are facts and good writing is good writing. That's not different. I only have one reporter who reports directly to me, and that's something I miss deeply. One of the things I enjoyed the most about that part of my career was working with reporters and helping them develop stories and sources on their beats. The thrill you get of chasing news and reporting news and being the first to tell people things they didn't know that they needed to know is what I really enjoy about my professional life. I do a little less of that now, but I'm not going to let that stop me."

In terms of security, one might view the Citizen as a curious choice. In the time Evans acted as editor at the Explorer, the circulation for Tucson's afternoon daily has plummeted by nearly 50 percent. It's now in the mid-20,000s. Yet Evans is confident about the future.

"When I graduated from the UA in 1994, I was cautioned about taking a job at the Citizen, because, 'It's an afternoon paper, and afternoon papers are dying, and the Citizen probably won't be around in 10 years.' Here it is, 13 years later, and it has intentions of being here awhile," Evans said. "It's one of the things that was brought up in the initial interviewing process, and they don't have any intention of going anywhere. What's happening is the paradigm of the afternoon daily is going away, but it's not that the newspaper needs to die along with that paradigm change. It needs to adapt."

And the focal point of that adaptation rests with the strength of its Internet presence.

"The Citizen, in order to maintain its relevance, has to be innovative. It has to adapt and change with the way the industry is changing," Evans said. "That is exactly what (Citizen Editor/Publisher) Mike Chihak and Gannett is trying to accomplish here. They're converting the paper from just a provider of print news to a provider of digital news, and they're putting tremendous resources into the technology of the newsroom and with its presentation on the Web site. It doesn't matter that we can't get on the press until after the Star has gone to press, which means we have to be the afternoon paper. ... I can publish a story right now if there's a story that people need to know right now. I can publish the story at 8 o'clock at night. I can publish the story at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning.

"You have this cadre of people who read the news in print, and they will read the news in print right up until the day they die, but they're not being replaced by a cadre of people reading print in paper. They're reading print on screens. They're getting their news digitally. All newspapers have to recognize that. As a result, the (Arizona Daily Star and Citizen joint operating agreement) doesn't really matter. ... That doesn't matter, because now, you're a digital news provider, and you can publish any time. That is the intent of everybody here, and that's what I see as my future, and it's why I wanted to work at the Citizen."


KILBURY NABS MORNING SPORTS GIG ON KNST

KOLD Channel 13 sports anchor Scott Kilbury has replaced former KVOA Channel 4 personality Dan Ryan as the new sports reporter during the KNST-AM 790 morning show.

Like Ryan, Kilbury will prerecord two 90-second sports segments. Unlike Ryan, Kilbury can simply e-mail the files from KOLD. It was just as convenient for Ryan to drive to the Clear Channel studios at Fort Lowell and Oracle roads from the KVOA television studio location near Sixth Avenue and Elm Street. Those logistics aren't available for Kilbury; the KOLD studios are near Cortaro Road and Interstate 10.

It's not the first logistical issue Kilbury has faced in terms of radio partnerships. Last spring, he co-hosted The Shootout, a weekday afternoon sports show on KCUB AM 1290 The Source (where I work doing UA pregame and postgame shows), located near Roger and Oracle.

"I really liked the Source and going in there, but trying to be up there until 5 and then getting ready for the 6 o'clock news, it was a heart attack waiting to happen," Kilbury said.


JEFFRIES HONORED FOR 20 YEARS OF SERVICE

UA play-by-play radio announcer Brian Jeffries was recognized for two decades of service during a halftime ceremony at the Arizona men's basketball team's game against the University of Southern California on Thursday, Feb. 15. He was presented with a No. 20 Wildcat basketball jersey and a championship ring from Lute Olson.

Jeffries began his career with KNST when it handled the Wildcat sports package and made the move to 1290 after The Source landed the deal three years ago.

"I don't think there's a better announcer around than Brian. I think he's the best I've been around," Olson said.

More by John Schuster

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