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'STAR' MAKES CHANGES TO KEY BEATS

Arizona Daily Star reporters Rob O'Dell, Carol Ann Alaimo, Becky Pallack and Rhonda Bodfield were reassigned by the newspaper last week.

According to a Star intranet memo, O'Dell's transition led to a domino effect in the newsroom. O'Dell was shifted from his city beat to a position the Star refers to as computer-assisted reporting (CAR).

"Rob will work on his own investigations, but also will team with reporters throughout the newsroom on stories and projects involving databases," the Star's intranet memo announced.

It's a position the newspaper has had before. Enric Volante and Jack Gillum occupied CAR slots in the past.

Bodfield will replace O'Dell on the city beat. Pallack is the paper's new county-issues reporter, and Alaimo transitions to Pallack's former beat, which focused on covering the UA. Alaimo was the Star's military reporter, and handled a number of other reporting duties as well.


MEGA GETS ITS GROOVE ON—TO THE DISMAY OF THREE EX-EMPLOYEES

Journal Broadcast Group radio station KGMG FM 106.3 pulled the plug on its struggling rhythmic-oldies format last week—and in the process bounced on-air talent Ken Carr, "Dino" Dan Nespoli and Rosemary Watson.

"As many know, the company has invested in intensive technical upgrades and market research to more clearly define a strategic operating direction for KGMG-FM. As a result of this directive, the KGMG-FM operating staff is being released effective today," said Journal in an internal memo—which suggested that it was more important to pay for market research than find a way to keep three of its employees.

It doesn't take much in the way of expensive market research to determine that Mega was struggling. The format never gained a foothold and consistently lagged in the ratings.

In addition to a format that never caught on, the station's signal strength has been detrimental. "Intensive technical upgrades" didn't help turn the tide.

Journal has had success with format flips on some of its weaker FM signals in this market. It jettisoned KZPT FM 104.1, then a wishy-washy '80s-style format station, in favor of FM talk. That move was very successful, and now KQTH, known as "The Truth," has surpassed longtime news/talk leader KNST AM 790 as the market's news/talk ratings king.

The new format for Mega? Something called "The Groove." Journal purchased the domain 1063thegroove.com in late August, an indication that the format switch has been in the works for a while. That name suggests something more modern in the music library; perhaps the station will become a competitor to Clear Channel hip-hop station KOHT FM 98.3?


'THECOOLTV' GETS BOOTED FOR 'LIVE WELL'

Two weeks ago in this space, I discussed what it's like to watch TV the old-fashioned way, and what stations, including alternate HD options, are viewable in Tucson via antenna.

Based on the feedback I received, it's clear that I'm not the only person in town dealing with budget restraints and/or recognizing that cable or satellite TV costs a crapload of coin—a crapload we either can't afford or would rather not pay.

And for those of us in the Antenna TV Collective, we've been screwed for the second time regarding a music-video channel.

For no apparent reason, KGUN Channel 9 has pulled music-video station TheCoolTV, which was broadcasting on Channel 9.3, and replaced it with something called LWN, the Live Well Network. Apparently, this change was a huge secret, because representatives of the Journal Broadcast Group haven't bothered to explain the switch, and my onscreen TV guide is still telling me that I'm supposed to get my music-video TV.

Perhaps they're too busy crafting touchy-feely termination memos or still analyzing the data from "market research to more clearly define a strategic operating direction."

In the infancy of the HD-piggyback signals, KOLD provided viewers with a music-video station called The Tube. Due to issues beyond KOLD's control, the Tube shut down in October 2007.


SMOOTH JAZZ RETURNS TO TUCSON

Last week, I mentioned Tucson's lack of smooth jazz on the radio, after Clear Channel's high-definition alternate signal that piggybacks off of KWMT FM 92.9 "The Mountain" went away. In that article, I noted that Phoenix smooth jazz station KYOT FM 95.5 has occasionally shown up in Tucson Arbitron ratings books.

That part is true—but a reader set me straight on the situation in the Valley: Apparently, KYOT didn't show up well enough in Phoenix ratings books. The Clear Channel station's primary signal was flipped from its long-time smooth-jazz format to rhythmic adult-contemporary music in June.

Meanwhile, the smooth-jazz station that piggybacked off The Mountain's signal, which was dormant for the last month or so, returned to the airwaves on Friday, Oct. 7. Clear Channel managed to correct technical issues and got the HD signal up and running again.


SHEPHERD OVERSEES LOCAL SALES AT CLEAR CHANNEL

Speaking of Clear Channel: Rodney Shepherd has been named local sales manager for the company's seven-station Tucson radio cluster.

Shepherd brings local radio experience back to the Old Pueblo. He enjoyed a decade-long stint in wireless sales with AT&T and Cricket prior to joining Citadel Tucson in a sales capacity in 2004. Four years later, he moved to Harrisburg, Penn., to head up Citadel's cluster there, before landing the Clear Channel gig here.

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