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KOLD's Acosta Moves to Business Side

Suleika Acosta has concluded her two-year run as a news reporter at CBS affiliate KOLD Channel 13, but she remains at the station in a sales capacity.

"My fiancé and I decided we really liked Tucson, and staying with the company was a good fit," Acosta said. "That position was available, and it just happened to work out.

"I'm ready to take on new challenges and learn a new area. I'm used to getting out in the field and working really hard, and I figured I'd take that to the sales department and see what I could do there."

In the end, the move was a matter of her no longer being motivated by TV-news reporting.

"I liked reporting, but I never fell in love with this," Acosta said. "There are people who sleep and breathe reporting, but it wasn't me. I enjoyed it, and it was a job, but it's not something I would do forever. It's fun to chase stories, but I'm going to try to make my new career an adventure as well. I'm going to absorb everything I can and do my best. It's scary starting a new job, a new career, but hopefully, I'll fall in love with this."

Acosta pondered a cross-country move, but changed her mind when the sales opportunity presented itself. Her new task of giving sales a go won't be easy, thanks to the economic downturn.

"It's tough right now," Acosta said. "A lot of businesses don't have the budget to advertise, but other businesses are trying to figure out what they can do differently than they've done in the past: 'Hey, we should look at advertising,' and maybe they can spend some money in that area to see if it will help the business grow a little bit. That will be my main job: helping businesses grow. Our ratings were really good, so that should make my job a little less challenging. I'm so excited to learn everything I can."

Acosta admits that her final TV-news report was more emotional than she anticipated.

"I put together a story about people doing fun stuff on New Year's Eve (and) what they want to see in 2009. I thought it was a cute story," Acosta said. "My last live shot at 6 o'clock, I was in this fun, happy mood, but ... I started crying tears and choking up as I'm saying the tagline. I did not expect that.

"(Reporting) is what I studied in school. It's what I thought I wanted to do forever, and it turns out not to be. This could be and probably is my last live shot, and all those emotions came to me, and I let it out on live television. It's one of those moments I'll remember forever--but I won't dare watch it."

Acosta's news departure was calculated into KOLD's budget, so due to the station's recent downsizing, it's likely that others will have to absorb her responsibilities in the news department.


KVOA SPREADS OUT OVERALL'S OLD DUTIES

NBC affiliate KVOA Channel 4 is in the midst of a little job-absorption itself. Since John Overall's holiday departure, Martha Vazquez has been anchoring the station's 4 p.m. news hour by herself.

"We are taking a look at new things we can do in the 4 p.m. (newscast), and that will help us decide whether to ultimately put another anchor back on the newscast," said KVOA news director Kathleen Choal.

Overall was also responsible for the weekly "Restaurant Report Card" feature, which has been picked up by morning news anchor Josh Benson.


ARIZONA PUBLIC MEDIA REACHES ANNUAL DONATION GOAL

It wasn't easy; in fact, it took a last-minute nudge, but Arizona Public Media managed to top its 2008 donation goal, thanks largely to a New Year's-week pledge drive.

The pledge-drive cycle provides the lifeblood of public media, but this year, it took a little more work to reach the finish line.

"We had two in December, one from Dec. 1 through the 14th, and another right around New Year's," said Wendy Erica Werden, Arizona Public Media's director of marketing and brand management. "... We didn't hit our goal (the first time), so we went back on during New Year's and made our goal. Our annual pledge goal was $300,000 through Jan. 4, and we did come in and successfully exceed that figure; that's for radio and television."

Arizona Public Media seemed happy with the success of its first electronic-only pledge drive for NPR affiliate KUAZ FM 89.1.

"Our Best of National Public Radio pledge drive made a little over $3,000," Werden said. "It had a little over 50 pledges. It was the first time we've done an electronic-only pledge drive. We were very pleased with the results of that. There were no phone numbers, just a request to go online to donate to National Public Radio."


MAJOR NETWORK AFFILIATES DO WELL IN NEWS RATINGS

Given the impending uncertainty of the scheduled digital-only transition, the November 2008 ratings numbers carried a little extra importance for local TV stations--but the numbers didn't indicate any real station separation, or for that matter, any major disappointments: In terms of news viewership, it was a balanced effort across the board.

In the valued 25- to 54-year-old demographic for local morning news programs, KOLD Channel 13 and KVOA Channel 4 split the top hour shares (KOLD won the 5 a.m., KVOA the 6 a.m. hour); KGUN Channel 9 finished a strong second in the 6 a.m. hour.

KGUN and KOLD were neck-and-neck with their 6 p.m. newscasts, while KOLD landed the top spot at 10 p.m. KMSB Channel 11's 9 p.m. newscast was pretty level when compared to the May 2008 book, while KVOA's 4 p.m. newscast doubled its numbers from May to November.

More by John Schuster

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