SHAMRELL RETURNS TO TUCSON TV
Sally Shamrell has been away from Tucson television for a decade, but the new co-host of KGUN's Morning Blend program is anything but a market unknown. Shamrell, who grew up in Bisbee and graduated from the UA, was an anchor/reporter fixture at KVOA for a number of years, but in 2003 left the business to pursue other endeavors.
"When I left KVOA in '03, I moved to Hollywood. I had some success with some commercial acting, a couple episodes of The Young and the Restless, was in an independent film as a TV reporter and the TV show Crash, with Dennis Hopper," Shamrell said. "I put my actual news experience to work for me by auditioning for roles as a TV reporter.
"Where that translated the most was in hosting. There's a lot of hosting opportunity in the corporate world in sales videos. I had a national running infomercial that ran for three years for a product called Lucidal. It basically paid my rent while I was in LA and I could say I was a working actor and didn't have to serve up the bacon and egg combo at the local diner. I had a regional infomercial for a tooth implant doctor. Some of these things were scripts I had to memorize. The implant doctor's script had all these medical terms, and while we're shooting he's changing the script on the fly."
Shamrell wrapped up her LA experience in 2009 when she got married and moved with her husband to Australia. Both have family connections to Tucson, so husband Glenn Murphy sold his business and the pair returned to the Old Pueblo late last year.
While Murphy works on launching two restaurant related projects—the Aussie Cantina near Sixth Street and University Avenue and an Aussie Rolls food truck—Shamrell will utilize her skills in front of the camera in a way more reminiscent of her acting endeavors than what she did in her reporting capacity at KVOA.
"The interesting thing about this gig is I can talk to civic leaders, artists, musicians, and not have to cut them down into 15 second sound bites," said Shamrell of the Morning Blend's live studio interview format. "That's different and exciting, and I'm having a great time."
Shamrell started her co-hosting duties alongside Amanda Guralski last week. The Morning Blend airs 11 a.m. weekdays on KGUN TV 9 and is replayed weekdays at 2 p.m. on KWBA TV 58.
JACK KORPELA CONTINUES TUCSON'S WWE LEGACY
Professional wrestling has a long-standing storied history in former territorial strongholds such as Memphis and Charlotte, with the Gagnes in Minnesota and the Von Erichs in Texas, with Georgia Championship Wrestling during the advent of cable television and of course with the McMahon family, which turned the industry from a localized phenomenon to a national and eventually global traveling institution.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, Tucson seems to get its share of broadcast professionals who have or eventually would ply their trade within the ranks of the WWE. Current KVOA news anchor/reporter Sean Mooney is probably the most noteworthy WWE broadcast alum (he worked at the organization during its "Federation" days, long before the company lost a copyright naming lawsuit to the panda-logoed World Wildlife Federation and had to rebrand itself with the "Entertainment" moniker), but former KOLD sports reporter Todd Grisham spent a number of years with the organization. Even ring announcer Justin Roberts has ties to Tucson.
So does Jack Korpela, who last week replaced George Savaricas on the sports desk at KVOA. Savaricas was recently hired by The Golf Channel.
"I got a job offer and was up there for five years," said Korpela. "It was a great experience that gave me all kinds of opportunities as a broadcaster. I worked as a studio host, announcer, I got to travel, so I was able to do a lot of things that helped me come into my own as a broadcaster, but in the back of my mind I knew I was a broadcaster and sports journalist at heart and never wanted to lose focus on the main goal."
That main goal is to report for television, so Korpela gave up a radio sports talk show gig in his hometown of Pittsburgh to accept the opportunity in Tucson, and consulted with Grisham as to whether he should pursue the opening.
"Todd is one of my best friends," Korpela said. "He's been probably the biggest supporter of me taking this job. He had such a wonderful time here. He told me I had to do it, that I'd love the weather, love the town and love the sports scene. It was time for me to be a sports journalist on TV, and this was by far the best opportunity I had presented to me. There were some jobs in the northeast, but the weather is terrible."
Korpela is aware of Tucson's year-round weather situation. In his travel-intensive position with the WWE, he ventured into the desert southwest on two occasions—once in February, "coming from 10-degree weather to 70-degree weather"; and on another stopover in the middle of July.
Furthermore, it doesn't hurt that KVOA Sports Director Ryan Recker also has deep Pittsburgh ties.
"He's such a cool guy," Korpela said. "First time I came in here he was watching the (NHL's Pittsburgh) Penguins. We both love the black and gold teams, but he's taught me a lot about FC Tucson and the Tucson Padres and of course the UA. He's the kind of guy who can draw comparisons to things back home to give me an idea of what works here."
But when he met with Mooney for the first time, Korpela, a guy who worked around the biggest names in the wrestling business, admitted to being a little in awe.
"As soon as I saw Sean Mooney I went back to my childhood. I'd watch him religiously," Korpela said. "He'd be the one who announced 'The Superstars are coming your way.' And I'd watch every day to see when the Superstars were coming to Pittsburgh. I was a little star struck meeting him, as someone watching him growing up. To work on the same show is a real honor. Sean has reinvented himself as a real news guy, so a lot of people don't talk with him about the wrestling thing, but it will be real hard for me to see him other than the guy at the Events Center telling me Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man are coming my way."