The economy has taken its toll on PBS affiliate KUAT Channel 6, which missed its donation target by more than 20 percent during its spring fundraising drive.
KUAT raised $264,165, a drop from $309,375 last year. The number of pledges (1,848 in 2010, 2,389 in 2009) slipped by 23 percent, although there was a slight increase in the average amount each donor offered ($129 in 2009, $143 in 2010).
KUAT plans to add a fiscal-year-end fundraiser to close the gap.
It didn't take Raycom long to name Jim Arnold's replacement.
KOLD Channel 13's parent company announced that Debbie Bush, the vice president/general manager of Raycom-owned WFIE in Evansville, Ind., will occupy the same position in Tucson. Bush's broadcast experience also includes three news-director stints.
Before the Internet came along, if someone didn't possess a Federal Communications Commission license, but did have the equipment to create a radio station, the only option was pirate radio.
Ah, the good ol' days. It was an era when the feds spent a boatload of coin tracking down largely harmless infiltrators of the airwaves like Radio Limbo.
Today, improved access to the Internet has opened the floodgates for alternatives to terrestrial-radio fare. Case in point: Azjazz.net, an online radio station that hopes to capitalize on the lack of jazz programming across the traditional Tucson radio spectrum.
For terrestrial radio users, the jazz options are evenings and nights on KUAZ FM 89.1 (which features public-radio programming during the day), and a secondary signal that piggybacks on KWMT FM 92.9's digital feed. (One needs an HD-capable receiver to access the latter.)
"We want to develop this as an alternative for Tucsonans who either try to pick up (KYOT FM 95.5) in Phoenix or have limited access with the community jazz station or the HD station," said Azjazz.net program director Michael Bradford. "The whole purpose is to give Tucson something that's local, not something like a jazz station on Sirius XM.
"As interest develops, we'll start having more local content. When I'm on the air, I talk about all things jazz in Tucson, (like) artists coming to Tucson and Phoenix and the area. We also talk about nonprofit fundraising events. We just developed a partnership with the Reid Park Zoo, where we'll be doing live broadcasts. We're coming up with creative fundraisers and things like that to benefit the Zoological Society. We've done some live webcasts for artists coming to town, and we hope to work with some of the jazz societies in town. We're attempting to get ourselves into the community."
If local doesn't matter, the listener has a plethora of entertainment options, from personal music devices to satellite radio. But to many radio listeners, local does matter, and Azjazz.net wants to cater directly to the loyal jazz listener in Southern Arizona.
Of course, there's a significant issue that plagues the new technology: How, exactly, do you make money off the venture? The Azjazz.net approach appears to be something akin to a hybrid between a brief-commercial-announcement style and a sponsorship-block option.
"We'll have advertisers and sponsors and things like that, but we don't want to get bogged down and become a commercial station that plays three songs an hour, and the rest is dedicated to commercials," said Bradford. "The flavor is nonstop continuous music, so we'll do things a little different. You'll hear commercials between songs, or multiple songs, maybe 15 to 30 seconds at most, and then another song will come on. ... Our whole thing is we really have a passion for selling the music and not selling the advertising, although it's going to take advertising to help make it work."
Bradford says Azjazz.net listenership has grown steadily since the station's launch in December.
"It's more the contemporary smooth jazz. It's in that realm," Bradford said about the format. "But here's the difference: 70 percent of our play list is in the smooth-jazz genre, but we also play blues; we also play soft-rock jazz; and we're going to get into and highlight local musicians who may not be national recording artists. ... We'll have features on fusion-jazz artists and female artists. We like to say 'all things jazz.' The station has the feeling of smooth jazz, but I don't program the station to play just the newer stuff. We play stuff from the '60s, '70s and '80s on through."
Of course, the Internet can be a platform for terrestrial stations as well. Pretty much every traditional radio outlet streams its product online, so Bradford hopes to compete and attract listenership through an expanded playlist.
"We don't have a limited, 300-song library like most terrestrial stations do. Our library is about 3,000 songs. I constantly rotate it. We play deep album cuts. We don't play just what's been researched. I've always said jazz purists love the music. The difference between a jazz artist and a Top 40 artist putting out an album is that with a Top 40 artist, you might like one or two songs on an album with 12. The jazz artist, you might like 10 of the 12 songs. ... There are so many artists with so much great material."
In addition to programming the station, Bradford also broadcasts live weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. The 17-year radio veteran also operates MB Voice Innovations, a company that specializes in voiceover work. Long-time radio and television engineer Bernie Celek launched the site with significant equipment investment.
"The computer age is the next wave," said Bradford. "There's a great deal of money that's been spent on the station to make it sound good. It doesn't sound like your typical Internet radio station. This is no joke: It's the real deal."