KOLD Channel 13 has decided to end its relationship with reporter Jim Becker after 20 years.
"While we are parting ways, station management has expressed an interest in helping me through my transition, and I intend to make good use of whatever they are willing to offer," Becker said in a statement. "I am grateful for the many wonderful years with an exceptionally talented group of people. I will cherish the wealth of learning experiences this job has presented me over the course of two decades. I wish my former colleagues the best of luck, and I hope we'll have opportunities in the very near future to work together in any capacity to make our community a better place."
The "transition" facing Becker is the possible end of his news-reporting career; he's the latest victim of rapid changes in the industry, highlighted by cutbacks and the ever-present bottom line.
While KOLD management would not comment on Becker's departure, and Becker did not get into financial specifics, it's not a stretch to conclude that Becker was pulling down more than many of the younger reporters on staff. Additionally, he worked at a station that has more veteran talent on its roster than any other TV-news outlet in the market. His replacement, when KOLD gets around to hiring one, will probably make a fraction of Becker's salary.
"I've seen the writing on the wall for a while at my job situation, and I haven't been totally unprepared," Becker said via e-mail. "Management has told me repeatedly there's nothing personal about this move, and from what I've observed currently in the television industry, this indeed seems to be the case. This is a transitional time in the business, and that's what appears to be driving things, for myself and many others all over the nation."
Becker has been on hand for countless high-profile stories, including the child-murder trials of Daren Lee Bolton and Christopher Payne. But he seems just as drawn to human-interest pieces. He was pleased to play a role in a feature about Karen Storek, who started the New Parents Network in Tucson, an organization that utilizes Internet technology to gather important information in one location. That piece was picked up nationally.
"Soon, Storek was getting calls from private donors and talk-show hosts. She appeared before the World Health Organization, to discuss how the Internet can help parents and children," Becker said. "It's one of those situations where in spite of all the walls that come up while trying to beat deadlines, some stories are just meant to be told, and I am one vehicle through which they can be."
Becker also said he relished the opportunities he had to meet with veterans.
"I've been amazed at how selfless our veterans can be. I was covering Tucson's Veterans Day parade one year, and as a group of Marines passed by in a truck, one of them called my name and said, 'Thank you,'" said Becker. "I don't deserve his thanks. He and the others in that truck deserve mine, and I can't possibly thank them enough.
"... If you go to the Pima Air and Space Museum, you'll find a B-29 Superfortress, a World War II heavy bomber, with the nickname Sentimental Journey. I am privileged to have interviewed several members of the crew at their last reunion, with many passing on from illness and age. The museum was so appreciative of our coverage, they sent the station a letter of praise on my behalf.
"You can have your Emmys. I have that letter in a frame."
Jenny Anchondo will leave the KOLD morning desk at the end of the month, after inking a deal with Fox affiliate WXIN in Indianapolis.
"It's a monster morning show: three morning reporters, two anchor teams, a load of producers," said Anchondo. "It's a long, big-block show, which I think will be a blast. Job-wise, it was a no brainer, but I love Tucson and love my friends here. I'll do some reporting during the day, but my primary function will be anchoring the first portion, so it will be even earlier. Right now, I start at 5 (a.m.). There, I'll start at 4:30."
Anchondo spent three years in Tucson, but decided to leave in light of the offer on the table from Indy, which, in addition to a presumed financial boost, includes a market jump from Tucson's No. 60 to Indy's No. 25. Still, she said it was not an easy decision.
"It's hard to rip me out of Tucson. I really love it here. I bought a home here. I teach fitness classes here. I have great friends here who I think will be lifelong. We have such loyal viewers. It makes me sad to leave, because we've worked so hard on (the show)," Anchondo said. "I love the city; I love the people; I love the desert landscape (and) the weather, even when it's stupid hot. I grew up in snow, and that's why I wanted to move to Arizona. Now I'm going back to the snow, and I'm unpacking my coats and boots that have been collecting dust for three years."
A native of Idaho, Anchondo will spend some time visiting with family and friends in her home state and California before making the move to the Midwest. Her final day at KOLD is July 30, and she'll kick off her morning duties at WXIN at the end of August.
"The people I visited there are phenomenal," Anchondo said. "They're very talented; they're huge on breaking news. There's a lot of breaking news in Indy. It's a huge city with a lot going on. Plus, there are the Colts, the Pacers, the Indy 500. I'm excited to be in a city with a lot of pro-sports teams."