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MEMO TO METH HEADS: STOP MESSING WITH PROGRESSIVE TALK

So I'm flipping through the AM band on my car radio, trying to figure out what the deal is at KWFM AM 1330—partly because some readers of this column were curious, and partly because one never knows what might happen next at that station.

Things sounded fairly normal, by 1330 standards. Through the static of a struggling AM signal, I managed to make out the sounds of a liberal talk-show host complaining about something the evil right had done—sounds which are welcome, since most of the rest of the talk portion of the AM band is filled with conservative talk-show hosts complaining about something the evil left has done.

So it was almost like ... balance. Balance with a healthy dose of static. And then the talk-show host, needing a breather from the fervor he achieved by lamenting the evils of the right, went to a break. That's when it got kind of weird—which is what one might refer to as "normal" at KWFM.

It wasn't odd that operations manager Alan Michaels voiced a spot. But the subject matter was rather interesting: Instead of pimping some product, this was more of a public-service announcement, kind of like McGruff the Crime Dog extending a plea for help. According to Michaels' message, somebody, or a series of somebodies, decided it was a good idea to steal copper from the 1330 transmitter. The message also noted that any information leading to the capture of the culprits would garner handsome financial compensation.

I, for one, think it would be really cool if some high-profile local Tea Party member was behind this heinous act—that would make for some quirky news-of-the-weird headline stuff, which would be right in 1330's often-wacky wheelhouse. But I figure the Tea Partiers were busy supporting Chick-fil-A, so it was probably just some dude needing a fix.

But does this druggie understand the implications of those actions? There are devoted listeners in this community who also need a fix, and they'll brave poor signal strength to get their fill of Michael Smerconish. How dare you take that away?


COWBOYS COMING TO KNST

It's been nearly 10 years since KNST AM 790 (now simulcast at 97.1 FM) lost the rights to UA sports broadcasts. It's not as if sports was a real focal point when the Clear Channel station had the deal, but KNST's sports presence dwindled to nearly nothing once the package was picked up by KCUB AM 1290.

But KNST—the market's big ratings-getter in terms of a talk lineup devoted to lamenting the evils of the left—is now participating in the evils of the NFL by broadcasting games of one of the standard-bearers for evil franchises.

"The Dallas Cowboys have a strong following in Tucson, and KNST is happy to provide coverage to listeners in our region," KNST program director and morning host Garret Lewis said in a press release included here only because it made a really nice transition from the preceding paragraph. "When you drive around Tucson, it's easy to notice the Cowboys stickers on the cars, and we're excited to have all the Cowboys fans in Tucson become regular KNST listeners."

That would involve Cowboys fans turning off country-station KIIM FM 99.5. Good luck with that.

KNST will broadcast all regular-season Cowboys games and other Sunday matchups as part of its NFL game-of-the-week package. It's now the Tucson affiliate for the most overhyped, underachieving team in the NFL.


CHAPIN ACCEPTS GIG IN GILBERT

Jessica Chapin concluded her stint as a reporter for KGUN Channel 9 on Friday, Aug. 10. Chapin has accepted a position as a digital journalist for the city of Gilbert.

In addition to her regular beat, Chapin filled in as necessary in a variety of on-air capacities for the local ABC affiliate.


RAYCOM SEARCHES FOR TRUNZO REPLACEMENT

KMSB Channel 11 is in the market for a new morning host for its Daybreak program.

Gina Trunzo made it official that she will not return from a medical leave that began in May. Trunzo was a prime "get" for the station when Belo, which owns KMSB, relinquished control of its local-news products to Raycom, which operates KOLD Channel 13.

"All of us send get-well wishes her way as she continues to recover," said GM Debbie Bush in a memo to staff.

The search for a co-anchor replacement is under way. Daybreak was added to the KMSB lineup after Belo's shared-services agreement with Raycom went into effect in February.


TUCSONSENTINEL.COM LANDS BORDER GRANT

Tucsonsentinel.com was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation. The grant will allow the nonprofit news website to continue investigative reporting on border issues, focusing on enforcement efforts, environmental issues and the impact of immigration.

The foundation doled out $1.84 million in grants to 23 journalism organizations worldwide.


AT LEAST THE CUTS WEREN'T AT THE 'STAR' THIS TIME

Arizona Daily Star owner Lee Enterprises, ever the friend of hard-working journalists, made another batch of cutbacks at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month.

A total of 23 employees—13 from the newsroom and 10 from advertising and production—got the ax in the company's latest downsizing effort.

At about the same time, Lee decided to increase CEO Mary Junck's compensation package again, because it deemed she wasn't paid at the level of her peers. Junck received 500,000 shares of Lee stock valued at about $655,000. Never mind that the company lost $1.4 million in the quarter that ended in June, and that Junck received hefty bonuses after the company wrapped up its bankruptcy proceedings.

Given the rate at which Lee is cutting back, Junck might be the company's last employee. Imagine the sweet bonus package she'll get then.

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