Deanna Morgan, one of the few remaining components from the initial days of KMSB Channel 11's 9 p.m. newscast, has decided to part ways with the station as of the end of the year.
The reporter/weekend anchor has been an integral part of the nightly news broadcast since she joined the Belo-owned organization nearly six years ago.
"I'm going back home to California to be with my family and hope to eventually get a job in Los Angeles doing the same thing," Morgan said. "I love Fox 11. They've done great things, but I think I reached a point where there wasn't more room for growth. I want to become a stronger journalist, and I didn't see that there was any more opportunity for me at the station.
"I'm going on a wing and a prayer. We'll see how it turns out. It's probably silly given the economy we're in, but I've never really lived by worrying about the economy or things like that. I just do what I think is right and follow my heart to the best of my abilities."
While the news-reporting business is a nomadic job as one tries to climb the market ladder, there can be a certain geographic component involved in the upward mobility. For instance, it's not uncommon for markets like Yuma and El Paso to act as feeders for Tucson. Tucson, meanwhile, is probably more likely to be a stepping stone for Phoenix than L.A. There's a similar pattern in California that Morgan sidestepped when she accepted the Old Pueblo position.
"I have friends in the California market. That's where I started, and everyone I started with ended up in L.A.," Morgan said. "(I) kind of bounced from city to city, from Santa Barbara to San Diego to here. Everyone usually goes Santa Barbara to San Diego to Los Angeles."
Morgan at least has both reporting and anchoring skill sets on her résumé thanks to her stint in Tucson.
"I really never set out when I began in this career to be an anchor. My goal was just to report. Now that I do anchor, I don't like one over the other. I like them both, and I like having the best of both worlds," Morgan said. "As a reporter, you really get to know the community, and I still love storytelling. As an anchor, I get to connect with what I feel is one-on-one with the viewer. ... I leave with a ton of new skills and new experiences."
Belo Tucson general manager Bob Simone says he hopes to have an announcement on Morgan's replacement within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, over at KVOA Channel 4, former anchor John Overall is rejoining the station, and will team with Emily Guggenmos on the weekend anchor desk.
Overall left KVOA two years ago due to family responsibilities, but he said he is relishing his encore opportunity in Tucson.
"I'm excited to be returning to KVOA," said Overall via e-mail. "I look forward to working with a great group of people who produce first-class journalism every day. I have a lot of good friends at KVOA, and I am thrilled to be working with (station manager) Kathleen Choal again. Kathleen and I have worked together twice before, and I have a ton of respect for her. It's like coming home again, and I am grateful for the opportunity."
Overall, who co-anchored KVOA's weekday 4 p.m. newscast with Martha Vazquez prior to his departure, will also handle reporting duties.
Guggenmos started with KVOA as a part-time multimedia journalist nearly a year ago.
"As a company, we try to reward employees for hard work and dedication whenever possible. Emily personifies hard work and dedication," said Choal via e-mail. "We're thrilled to promote her to a weekend co-anchor position."
Prior to the move to Tucson, Guggenmos was a morning anchor/reporter at KDLT in Sioux Falls, S.D.
In other news, KVOA has parted ways with Tyler Wing. Wing had the distinction of being among the first multimedia journalists at the station when it transformed from a traditional reporter/camera-operator field style to the one-person model.
"Tyler certainly set the standard for multimedia journalists in Tucson," Choal said. "We know he will have great success in his future endeavors."
KMXZ FM 94.9's "Thanksgiving on the Mayflower" event was a fundraising boon for the Tucson Community Food Bank. The one-day collection campaign, which took place Nov. 18, garnered $131,000 and more than 7,000 pounds of food.
"I am proud of the community work we do as a cluster, highlighted by record-setting food drives for two years running with MIXfm's 'Thanksgiving on the Mayflower,'" said outgoing Journal Broadcast Group Tucson operations manager Darla Thomas, who will begin her new duties as program director of Clear Channel-owned adult-contemporary station WLYT in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 13.
"This opportunity is in a bigger market (No. 24) and brings me back to my roots, which is radio programming and on-air work, in a format that I love," said Thomas via e-mail. "I will truly miss my radio programming team—they are a great group of people (who have) managed to remain on top of the ratings in a tough economic environment. ... I leave the radio stations in great hands. I will always be proud of our successful launch of an FM talk station in April 2007 on (KQTH) 104.1. We have become the leader in town in that format against great odds."
Her 3 1/2-year stint as operations manager of Journal Broadcast Group's Tucson operations included a promotion to similar responsibilities for the cluster's television stations, KGUN Channel 9 and KWBA Channel 58.
Thomas is the second Journal Tucson employee snatched by a Clear Channel affiliate in a different market within the last few months. Former 104.1 FM program director Andrew Lee recently accepted a PD position at a Clear Channel station in Minneapolis.