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KUAT Airs Third War Installment

Tucson's PBS affiliate is premiering the third part of its locally produced World War II program, Tucson Remembers: War in the Pacific, at 8 p.m., Monday, March 10.

As with the first two parts of KUAT Channel 6's Tucson Remembers, a specific segment of World War II is covered, featuring interviews with Tucson veterans involved in the conflict. As the title of the third installment would suggest, the feature that airs Monday recounts the Pacific Theater and the U.S. struggle with the Japanese.

"The primary desire was to document the stories of Tucson veterans," said senior producer Tom Kleespie. "Obviously, there are national programs--Ken Burns does a fine job with the war--but we wanted to document the Tucson veterans, and actually, we started a year or two before Ken Burns' program aired.

"We knew it was important to do it. The veterans of World War II are dying at an alarming rate. Whenever you look in the obituaries, there are probably two or three who served in World War II who recently died. We felt time was of the essence, and we wanted to do it for Tucson."

Among those veterans featured are well-known community figures Hank Oyama and former Tucson Mayor George Miller.

"To have basically grown up down the streets from these guys, they were heroes," said Kleespie, a Tucson native. "They risked their lives, came home, and nobody really talked about it until they came forward through the program."

In the infancy of the concept, Kleespie said, the process of tracking down World War II veterans with poignant stories in Tucson was difficult, but once the ball started rolling, outlets opened up.

"I called a lot of (Veterans of Foreign Wars posts). It took quite a while to get my first one, but after the first one, word of mouth helped," Kleespie said. "We got a lot of help from the VA Hospital. After the first one, people called me, telling me they had an uncle, a dad, and it got to be a lot easier to make contact."

War in the Pacific begins with what Tucson was like prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and travels chronologically through the 3 1/2-year engagement against the Japanese.

"Some of the things that stick out for me in part three is, No. 1, what the conditions were like in the Pacific," Kleespie said. "Steamy jungles and a lot of near hand-to-hand fighting. The geography and topography played a big role in what the fighting was like in the Pacific. The other thing is that when you have 15, 16, 17 million (military personnel), there are bound to be screw-ups, and there are a lot of people who talk about how they weren't treated very well (by the American military), and I guess when you have that many people, there are some bad apples. There was a sergeant who refused to promote a group. They got five battle stars, but they'd be sent back in to fight. There was a whole group who resigned officers' commissions and made other sacrifices to be pilots, and after they resigned their commissions, the Air Force said, 'Oh, we don't need you guys. Now you're infantry men.' That kind of thing happens when you have a fighting force of that many people."


KGUN ZAPPED BY 'THE BIG SWITCH'

Television stations are going to be spending a lot of time informing viewers about the industry's digital-transfer deadline in February 2009. At that time, older televisions without digital capabilities or some sort of digital converter will be unable to receive over-the-air programming.

Well, it seems that on its Feb. 24 10 p.m. newscast, Journal Broadcast Group-owned KGUN Channel 9 ran a news story informing viewers of what's necessary to make "The Big Switch," and even tagged the story with that graphic.

That's all well and good, except for the part where Raycom, which owns KOLD Channel 13, has trademarked the phrase. As a result, the Raycom folks sent a cease-and-desist letter to KGUN.

"Raycom Media is legitimately concerned that your use of its trademark 'THE BIG SWITCH' in association with the proffering of substantially identical use by KGUN may mislead our respective subscribers to believe that your services are associated with, or sponsored by, Raycom Media," said the letter, addressed to KGUN general manager Julie Brinks and obtained by the Tucson Weekly. "We request your cessation of any use of the mark 'THE BIG SWITCH' in association with your broadcast services, or in any manner which might confuse the consumers of our respective services."

So while KGUN will undoubtedly do numerous stories on the changeover, it will just have to come up with a different graphic to make the point.

"The Big Switch campaign, about the coming switch to all digital television, is something Raycom Media developed for our markets to provide as much lead time and information about this very confusing issue," said KOLD general manager Jim Arnold. "We own the trademark for 'The Big Switch' and have been a national leader in spreading the word in our own way. KGUN just didn't realize it was an infringement. The matter was easily and comfortably resolved."

If you have any catchy switchover zingers, submit them to KGUN.


MEMBRILA WRAPS UP KGUN TENURE

Media Watch would just seem empty if there wasn't some mention of a change at KGUN. The latest casualty: general-assignment reporter Myrna Membrila, whose last day is Sunday, March 9.

Membrila was not under contract but was still allowed to work, which was an area of consternation and a point of inconsistency: Former reporter Mark Horner says KGUN told him he could not remain employed unless he had a contract signed.

Horner's replacement, Linda Garrett, is scheduled to start at KGUN next month. Garrett hails from KHSL in Chico, Calif.

Meanwhile, KOLD has plucked Eric Villalobos as its No. 3 sports guy.

"KOLD is thrilled to add someone with Eric's background to our Emmy-winning sports team," said Arnold. "He has an extensive sports background and experience in covering the Pac-10 with the Bay Area schools nearby."

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