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ARIZONA PUBLIC MEDIA PULLS TUCSON 12 FUNDING PROPOSAL

Arizona Public Media, the UA's broadcasting arm, earlier this year pitched the city of Tucson on the possibility of financially assisting the city's Tucson 12, the future of which is in jeopardy due to the city's budget crisis.

That proposal is no longer on the table. AZPM pulled the plug on its proposal last week.

"AZPM clearly articulated that we were only in a position to consider incorporating Tucson 12 into AZPM if it could be done in a budget-neutral way for both entities," Arizona Public Media noted in a statement. "At this point, we are confident that this cannot be accomplished in a budget-neutral manner for (fiscal year 2011). Therefore, on behalf of AZPM and the University of Arizona, we were obligated to withdraw our proposal from consideration at the end of October. We welcome the opportunity to work with the city in the future should the situation or needs change."

In other news, AZPM has named Kimberly Craft the interim replacement for Bill Buckmaster on Arizona Illustrated. Craft will anchor the locally produced weeknight news program while a search continues for a permanent replacement. Buckmaster, who hosted Arizona Illustrated for 23 years, will stay on for the Friday Roundtable, a political-guest-driven half-hour forum, for now.


UA CONTRACTOR FIRES DAVID KELLY

There was a time when salespeople sold, and broadcasters broadcast, but somewhere in the morass of industry-driven personnel cutbacks, management recognized the possibility of occasionally combining the two positions—apparently thinking that on-air performance and behind-the-scenes sales didn't actually require different talent components or personality makeups.

Welcome to the world of IMG, the organization that oversees the UA's athletic broadcast/multimedia properties.

Last week, IMG released radio pregame and postgame anchor David Kelly. Kelly, a broadcaster by trade, did the broadcast part of his duties quite nicely. But his job required an emphasis on sales, and that didn't go very well.

"You've got to hit your numbers, and I didn't hit my numbers," said Kelly, who was in his third season with the Wildcats.

Kelly says IMG decided to make the move now to give the company time to find a sales replacement for the new year. "They want to come out guns blazing in January."

From a broadcast standpoint, IMG's timing is about as bad as it can get. From this Saturday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 5, IMG will oversee play-by-play coverage of three UA football games and eight men's basketball games.

Ben Lorenzen, IMG's Arizona sports marketing general manager, was tight-lipped on the decision, saying only: "We have good options to call upon to fill Mr. Kelly's broadcasting position(s)."

Those options include Derrick Palmer, who won't be available for most men's basketball broadcasts due to his conflict as play-by-play announcer for women's basketball; on-site engineer Eric Thomae, who has extensive on-air experience (including a stint with me, John Schuster, on the short-lived Eric and John Show on KNST AM 790 in the late '90s, which probably scarred him for life); and sideline reporter and longtime Tucson broadcaster Dana Cooper.

When Kelly accepted the role, it was in a different capacity than that of his predecessor, Ryan Radtke, who handled only broadcast responsibilities and was paid a flat per-game fee. Kelly excelled on the air, but struggled in the hybrid capacity.

"I've been in trouble on the sales side for a while," Kelly said. "Pretty much since midsummer, I knew I was at that point where I had to make something happen pretty quickly. It didn't happen. I had a lot of good proposals with good companies, but at the end of the day, none of the people said yes."

Kelly has his eyes on possible baseball play-by-play opportunities.


JOHNJAY AND RICH LOSE TWO MAJOR MARKETS

The Johnjay and Rich morning radio program, once broadcast in seven markets, has been pared to five.

The Clear Channel morning show—based out of Phoenix, but with roots in Tucson and carried on KRQQ FM 93.7—was pulled from an affiliate in San Diego last month, and Denver last week. The morning show lasted barely a year in both markets.


ACTUAL NEWS COVERAGE ON LOCAL RADIO: WHAT A CONCEPT!

The phrases "local-news reporting" and "Tucson radio" don't generally go hand in hand. You can count the number of locally based radio reporters in this market—folks who actually talk to someone to get information on a story—on one hand, and have plenty of digits to spare.

However, there are a number of local opinion-driven talk-show hosts, and that resource was used by four radio stations to provide midterm election coverage from 7 to 10 p.m. on Election Night.

The expertise of John C. Scott at KJLL AM 1330 and Jim Parisi at KVOI AM 1030 shined through, while newcomer Garret Lewis at KNST AM 790 and the boisterous Jon Justice at KQTH FM 104.1 tended to come off as down in the dumps—even with major Republican gains nationally—as the numbers moved toward Democrats Gabrielle Giffords and Raúl Grijalva in local congressional races.

It's great how the Florida snafu in 2000 is used as the fallback reference for every reasonably close race that isn't trending in the preferred way.

But even in light of the minor differences in approach, it was nice to have four stations showing the commitment to cover the returns, and they all did a fine job of lining up experts and key players to keep things flowing—which is not always easy to do while waiting for the results to come in.

More by John Schuster

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