RAPPAPORT LATEST CASUALTY AT AZPM
For regular listeners of Tucson's NPR affiliate KUAZ AM 1550/FM 89.1, and its classical-music counterpart, KUAT FM 90.5, Robert Rappaport has been a familiar voice. For 22 years, Rappaport brought the region's sizable public-radio listenership the news as the morning news anchor before he was forced to the afternoon drive shift and weekend-news responsibilities.
His tenure came to an end last week when Arizona Public Media told Rappaport his contract wouldn't be renewed.
"I walked into my boss' office, and the business manager was there, and any time you see the business manager, you know it's bad," Rappaport said. "They gave me the letter that said, 'We're not renewing your contract. It has nothing to do with your work. You do a great job. We're going in a new direction, and you're not a part of it.'"
What that new direction entails is something of a mystery, but Rappaport is the latest in a string of long-term employees who have left since the arrival of Jack Gibson as general manager nearly six years ago. Numerous former employees have complained about Gibson's more-corporate approach to the AZPM brand, which, among other things, has focused on cross-format efforts that combine the resources of its TV and radio stations and its website. According to Rappaport, much of the changes have followed a corporate radio model that maintains an inordinately high percentage of management positions while overworking the production talent responsible for providing the content.
"There are a total of 14 senior managers there," Rappaport said. "The radio-news department, when I was there, was six, and has now been cut down to five. It became a corporate structure that was hard to work in."
It's also a structure in which personal contact has all but disappeared.
"My direct supervisor, (Peter Michaels, news director and executive producer), apparently knew about this and was on vacation," Rappaport said. "Prior to that, most of our (work-related) conversations were via email."
Rappaport says that aside from signing his termination letter, Gibson had no direct contact with him. That responsibility fell to Jacqueline Kain, the recently hired chief content officer, who Rappaport says handled the situation in a professional and courteous fashion.
Gibson responded to the Tucson Weekly's request for comment via email. It was one of those management ditties that hides behind the veil of employee confidentiality.
"We appreciate the contributions Robert has made to AZPM. Our policy is not to comment on personnel issues," the email said.
Despite that appreciation, Rappaport is now unemployed.
"I loved the job; I loved the people; and loved the work I did," Rappaport said. "Many of my colleagues sent me heartfelt emails and texts of appreciation and feelings of shock and sadness. The news team was a fabulous group. I will miss seeing them every day."
Rappaport hopes to stay in the industry, a difficult task given all of the cutbacks in the modern media landscape.
"I would like to continue doing news work, whether it's on the radio or in another form: print writing, freelance work, maybe some Web stuff, possibly marketing or public relations," said Rappaport, 48, who started working at KUAT while still a student. (He left for a couple of years before rejoining the organization in April 1990.) "At this point, I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, because I've been doing the same thing for so long," he said.
CLEAR CHANNEL NAMES CLUNE LOCAL DIRECTOR OF SALES
In the world of relocating employees that is Clear Channel, Ryan Clune has been named the new director of sales for what now goes by the long-winded name of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Tucson.
Clune comes from Denver, where he was the local sales manager for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Denver. He also has sales experience with Denver radio stations KEZW and KALC.
"I am thrilled to be promoted to director of sales and join the strong team and great group of stations at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Tucson," Clune said in a press release almost certainly written by someone else, because nobody would say "Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Tucson" in actual conversation.
Clune's move is the latest in what has been something of a Colorado exodus for the company. Glynn Alan, Clear Channel Tucson's regional marketing manager, transferred here from Colorado Springs. His new duties include oversight of Clear Channel's seven radio stations in Tucson, as well as stations in Las Vegas and El Paso. Chris Pickett, a former operations manager who stayed just more than a year in the Old Pueblo, also came from Colorado Springs. He's now a program director for multiple stations in Las Vegas. His replacement, Chris Kelly, worked as an operations manager for Clear Channel in Fort Collins, Colo.
Clune's Tucson job starts July 15.
GUTHRIE GETS 'TODAY' PROMOTION
The forced departure of Ann Curry from NBC's Today show opened a door for Savannah Guthrie, a graduate of Tucson's Amphi High School and the UA who cut her reporting teeth at KVOA Channel 4.
Guthrie starts her Today co-anchor duties July 9 alongside Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Natalie Morales. Guthrie, who was the speaker at the UA's May 2011 commencement, joined Today last June as co-host of the program's third hour. Prior to that, she had been the White House correspondent for NBC News since 2008.
Guthrie has moved into a high-profile, high-pressure—and high-paying—position as NBC attempts to regain its ratings dominance.
Today has been the top-rated network morning show for years, but ABC competitor Good Morning America has cut into that market-share stranglehold of late. That's not good news for a network that routinely gets hammered in primetime and has been embarrassed on the news front by incidents such as the edited 911 tape involving George Zimmerman, who awaits trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.