It's been nearly 10 years since The Mojo and Betsy Show disbanded on KRQQ FM 93.7, but after a decade of strong performances in other markets, KOHT FM 98.3 has brought Mojo back to town—in a manner of speaking.
The Clear Channel-owned hip-hop station is syndicating Mojo from his home base in Detroit and has tapped him for the morning drive.
"I think this is a situation he's wanted for a long time, and it's great that we have the capacity to be his first syndicated opportunity," said Clear Channel Tucson operations manager Tim Richards.
Mojo in the Morning becomes the local cluster's second syndicated show with Tucson ties. KRQQ does the same thing with JohnJay and Rich, who succeeded Mojo on the popular Top 40 station but eventually got picked up by KZZP FM 104.7, Clear Channel's Top 40 station in Phoenix. JohnJay and Rich have relocated to Phoenix and now air on Clear Channel stations in seven markets.
"(On Mojo in the Morning), there definitely is going to be chatter in both markets about both markets," Richards said. "Personally, I think it's better not to pretend you're something you aren't, so it's good that people in Detroit know he broadcasts in Tucson, and people in Tucson know the show plays in Detroit. As long as the content's great, that's what people care about most."
The Tucson Clear Channel cluster is in the unique position of being able to take advantage of personalities with local ties who have since moved to larger markets. On the radio front, Tucson is notoriously unkind to nationally syndicated morning fare, but JohnJay and Rich's ratings have been consistently strong since the move, probably because they were never away from local airwaves. There's still a connection, even though the base camp has relocated to Phoenix.
Whether similar success is in store for Mojo remains to be seen. He's been away from the market for 10 years and now airs on a different station that skews toward a younger demographic.
Journal Broadcast Group has had success with a 60-minute daily advertiser-driven television program in Milwaukee and Fort Myers, Fla., and now it's banking on the formula delivering good results in Tucson.
The company is in the process of hiring for the program, which they hope to launch in a daytime window sometime this spring on KGUN Channel 9.
"It's more about what's happening in Tucson. It's highly local and an opportunity for businesses and community groups and other organizations to have a great discussion about what they're doing in and around Tucson," said Jim Thomas, Journal's vice president of programming, marketing and interactive media. "It (features) products, services, businesses (and) organizations, and really tries to capture the pulse of what is going on in and around Tucson."
Structurally, hosts will interview guests in segments that could run up to six minutes. Topics will be wide-ranging, but the goal is to use the program to generate advertising revenue. Much of the show will be dedicated to advertisers who will use the format as an opportunity to sell their product in what amounts to local, capsule-sized infomercials.
"Businesses can talk about what's unique about their product and services," Thomas said. "It's another aspect for the business community to build into their marketing plans. We'll also have a companion Web site where if the business chooses to stay on the site, (their segment) can be there for a month or two, which extends their appearance on the show. When you have five or six segments a day posted from the show, everybody is contributing to the value of that Web site, and that can help for someone who maybe didn't see the segment that day, but can still find out about the products."
Such advertising-driven programming is not new to the market. Many of the local morning-news programs have paid segments, and KVOA Channel 4 carries the formula through to occasional segments on its 4 p.m. newscast. While the KGUN incarnation will also focus on community events, entertainment activities and service groups, the drive is advertiser-motivated and separated from the traditional news structure.
"We have 52-week advertisers, people who try it for a month, for a quarter," Thomas said. "As the shows have developed, businesses have discovered this really fits into their plans."
The entertainment value of local television news shines when the sun isn't out.
When KVOA, KGUN and KOLD Channel 13 go into Weather Disaster Mode, it is truly a sight to behold. TV viewers got to experience the goodness in all its glory during last week's winter storm, the so-called worst storm in Arizona in 17 years.
Well, that may have been the case in the northern part of the state, where the storm dumped loads of snow. But in Tucson and most of the southern part of the state, which regularly deals with intense monsoon storms? Not so much.
KVOA scrolled a weather alert that included, in ALL CAPS, an impending BLIZZARD WARNING, which included metro Tucson. It implored viewers not to leave the house unless it was absolutely necessary. The closest I came to a blizzard was dessert at Dairy Queen.
Law-enforcement agencies reportedly had to ask KOLD to tone it down on the whole "tornado watch" thing, as residents of a mobile home park took it upon themselves to evacuate.
And, for some reason, KGUN has dedicated a rotating reporting staff to the obligatory there's snow on Mount Lemmon; let's talk about the travails we endured in our journey to the mountain story. By my count, Joel Waldman, Dan Spindle and April Madison have all filed these types of reports within the last month to tell us that, yes, there is snow on Mount Lemmon.
This must be perplexing to out-of-towners who have to endure actual bad weather. For them, I hope the comedy is well-received.