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'TIS THE SEASON FOR CHARITY DRIVES

The deterioration of local talent among cluster-run radio stations has been a recurring theme in this column, so we can get back to beating that drum down the road.

Fortunately, during the holiday season there are enough folks still employed locally to assist in putting together charity activities for the needy.

Lotus, which operates radio stations KFMA 92.1 FM and KLPX 96.1 FM, among others, has a number of fundraisers on tap. KFMA is conducting a coat drive at the 30 Seconds to Mars concert on Friday, Nov. 29, at the Rialto Theatre as part of the Salvation Army Coat Drive.

The new-rock format also has a concert tie-in for the Everlast, Big B show at The Rock on Friday, Dec. 13. Big Balls benefits testicular cancer research for the American Cancer Society.

Classic rocker KLPX is sponsoring its Rockin' Santa monthlong toy drive. The highlight, the AVIVA Family Services Holiday Toy Parade, is slated for Saturday, Dec. 7. Other Rockin' Santa appearances will occur throughout December, including Wednesday, Dec. 18, for the children at TMM Family Services.

Clear Channel is in the midst of a number of charity efforts. KNST 790 AM has just wrapped up its holiday care package collection drive for troops stationed overseas, and the Christmas for Kids Toy Drive has gotten underway. A cross-station promotion focuses on making donors aware of toy collection locations at Tucson-area Wendy's. The Christmas For Kids Toy Drive concludes Thursday, Dec. 12.

KIMY 92.9 FM is conducting a Boys and Girls Club Radiothon from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5, at Casino del Sol. The Boys and Girls Clubs assist more than 8,000 at-risk youths.

The Christmas Wish event at KRQQ 93.7 FM continues through the end of November. Christmas Wish is tied to the JohnJay and Rich radio program, and this year focuses on the needs of children within the foster care system.

KMXZ 94.9 FM is at the forefront of holiday charity activities for the Journal cluster. The annual MIXFm radio play is on tap for Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Ticket proceeds and donations for Merry Twistmas Tucson benefit the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona.

The MIX Miracles Radiothon is slated for Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12 and 13. Funds raised benefit Tucson Medical Center and the Children's Miracle Network.

Cumulus-owned KIIM 99.5 FM is embarking on its Penny Pinch fundraiser for the Arizona Children's Association. The charity drive has raised more than $300,000 for the organization over the years. The goal is to collect 1 million pennies or whatever spare change folks donate. The $10,000 goal has been surpassed every year. Last year, the event raised more than $16,000.

In addition to Penny Pinch, which takes place from Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 18 to 20, at Foothills Mall, a benefit concert featuring Clay Walker is on tap at The Slaughterhouse on Sunday, Dec. 8.

KHYT 107.5 FM is sponsoring the Stuff the Hummers Toy Drive at Sullivan's Steakhouse on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Good News Radio has expanded its Hope for the Holidays campaign. The drive, which allows advertisers to donate to a specific featured charity, has been enhanced to allow advertisers to donate to the charity of their choice. Good News Radio is also continuing its senior citizen volunteer campaign.

And keep in mind that community radio station KXCI 91.3 FM is in the midst of its 30th anniversary celebration and fundraiser.

Check out kxci.org for an extensive list of holiday activities and performances.

PRAGER GETS DAYTIME SLOT AT KVOI

Citing "overwhelming and ongoing response from listeners," KVOI 1030 AM general manager Doug Martin has made a change to his syndicated conservative talk lineup. Dennis Prager has returned to daytime, trading positions with Mike Huckabee.

Prager loses an hour locally, but gets the far more preferable time slot. He can be heard from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays. Huckabee's show airs from 1 to 4 a.m.

RIVERA ADDS TO UA BASKETBALL CHRONICLE

Master of freelance Steve Rivera has expanded upon his UA basketball historical opus, Tales From the Hardwood, with an update that documents the transitional period between the coaching reigns of Lute Olson and Sean Miller.

"This is an additional chapter from the time right before losing in the Elite Eight in Chicago (in 2005) to a little after Lute and his retirement, to the early part of Sean (Miller's) arrival," Rivera said.

While it will likely be lost to history, given Olson's success and Miller's ability to return Arizona to a position of national prominence, the transition that kept the UA afloat, and relevant, during that time frame played a significant role in weathering what could have been a real down time for the university's marquee sports program.

The period featured a number of surreal moments, including a surly Olson press conference announcing his return, six months before health issues forced him to step aside.

"Lute talked openly about how he handled that press conference and about how he wished it had never happened. He was candid about that," Rivera said. "He was very cranky with the media. It was on TV, and it didn't look good. Over time he realized he should have handled it better."

That set the stage for a surprising cast of characters who kept the ship afloat.

"It was a great experience for Russ (Pennell, who has gone on to successful, but brief tenures guiding Grand Canyon's foray into Division I basketball and leading the Phoenix Mercury to the WNBA semifinals) and (former Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike) Dunlap in that they took over a program some thought was in trouble," Rivera said. "These two guys led the team to the Sweet 16. Russ and Mike had a lot to do with that. They did a fabulous job turning the team around."

Rivera's updated version, complete with new cover, is available at local bookstores, but it might be easiest just to contact him directly for info on how to go about picking up a copy. You can reach him at steve.rivera95@gmail.com.

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