After 10 years of employment and roughly three interim general-manager stints at KXCI FM 91.3, Randy Peterson has finally been named the full-fledged general manager at the community radio station.
An estimated 80 volunteer DJs assist with KXCI's programming on a 24/7 basis. As a result of its structure, KXCI is the most locally driven station in Tucson, by far. There's no voice-track technology, no automation—just actual human beings providing actual live programming.
"Always, the challenge with KXCI is to keep passionate volunteers on the air and provide music and public-affairs programming that is not heard anywhere else on the radio dial," says Peterson. "I think we've done a pretty good job of that, and we want to continue to do that.
"I don't see my job as general manager as having a great deal of impact with what happens in the programming realm. That's largely left to my programming staff and the volunteers themselves. My job is to make sure enough money comes in to cover the bills, and (make sure) we aren't wasting money out the backside. We're taking care of all our paperwork and grants."
In terms of money, indications are that KXCI has weathered the financial downturn fairly well. As for administrative issues, there was a recent visit to KXCI by the Federal Communications Commission. Peterson says it was a routine visit, although the feds did find some problems.
"If you're in radio long enough, you'll get your turn. It's no different than a restaurant health inspection," Peterson said. "They came in Sept. 10 and looked at two aspects of the operation. (First was) our Emergency Alert System, where they checked for the system's effectiveness and readiness, and then our record-keeping in terms of being part of the Emergency Alert System.
"And then they checked what's called our public file, a set of documents which are available for public inspection that (concern) everything from documents of your contour maps to political advertising, which KXCI doesn't do. Within that area, there's something called the Quarterly Issues Programming Report. Every three months, the broadcast entity reports on the public-affairs programming they've done. We were a little behind on issuing some of those reports. I would strive to point out that for many radio and television stations, that's a very easy report to fill out. At KXCI, if I took a couple of sentences from every public-affairs show over the course of three months, I'd produce a 20-page document every three months."
The FCC sent a letter last week that outlined the issues it had encountered and asked for the station to provide documentation on how it plans to fix the problem spots.
KXCI has also changed its underwriting (or sales) approach. In the past, the station opted for a traditional radio-sales model, hiring a sales person to help bring in some variation of revenue. KXCI has gotten rid of the sales position and has signed on with Media Zocalo, operated by Dave Olsen, who has had a long history with the community radio station.
"We wanted to get some new energy into our sales department, and we're looking for cost savings," Peterson says. "We're looking at a commissions-only structure on actual sales instead of that plus a salary and benefits and everything else. We had the opportunity to do it with a local company, and we went with it."
In terms of future plans, Peterson wants to take a more active role in helping KXCI get the word out.
"If I've had one frustration over the last five years, it's that we don't do enough to market ourselves and make even more people aware of what we do in our community," Peterson says. "I definitely will be out there at every different level trying to market and promote the radio station. It's essential for our long-term survival, and when you have something this good, you want to share it with as many people as possible."
Bob Simone started his duties this week overseeing Belo's Tucson TV products.
"I am excited about my new position and the future for KMSB (Channel 11) and KTTU (Channel 18)," says Simone via e-mail. "The staff there is fantastic, and the station has great programming and a developing news product."
Simone most recently worked in a consulting capacity with Liberty Media. He also has vice president/general manager experience with Fox affiliates in Portland, Denver and Philadelphia.
Belo operates Fox affiliate KMSB and MyNetworkTV affiliate KTTU. Simone replaces Tod Smith, who accepted a GM position at a Belo-owned station in Norfolk, Va.
Naomi Pescovitz made her Tucson television debut last week as a general-assignment reporter for NBC affiliate KVOA Channel 4. Her addition may be the first in a series of new hires, as KVOA transitions to its "one-man band" news-coverage approach using multimedia journalists.
Recent departures include reporter/weekend anchor David Marino, who concluded his duties a couple of weeks ago. Reporters Anthony Cabrera and Ed Tribble are leaving the station within the next couple of weeks, while weekend sports anchor Dan Joseph will move on at the end of November.
Arizona Public Media, which operates PBS affiliate KUAT Channel 6, had hoped to raise at least $275,000 during its August and September fundraising push.
However, the efforts came up 13 percent short, resulting in a two-month tally of $239,577.
APM will focus its fundraising efforts on the radio side from Oct. 19 to Oct. 26. Priority seating opportunities for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion Tucson performance will be among the incentives offered to donors.