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RICK HUNTER WINS GOLDEN MIC AWARD

In the radio world, there are folks whose names you know, and others whose voices you know. The latter belong to the voiceover people, and one of those familiar voiceover talents nabbed this year's AAF Tucson Golden Mic Award, presently annually by the Tucson chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

Rick Hunter has been the longtime voice of commercials for Tucson's Clear Channel radio operation, in addition to a number of other local assignments that have come his way. The major radio clusters—Clear Channel, Cumulus, Journal, etc.—have production personnel in-house who are responsible for handling the commercial load. When someone local has a commercial they need produced, that's where it goes.

There are perhaps four or five voices in the market who have become familiar to radio listeners, but since they aren't personalities, a listener might have a hard time putting a name to a voice. Hunter has been with the cluster of stations Clear Channel operates since long before the Clear Channel days.

Others who have won Golden Mic awards include Bobby Rich, Guy Atchley, Brian Jeffries, Chuck George, Ed Alexander, Bill Buckmaster, Allen Kath and John C. Scott. This year's award ceremony was held Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Westward Look Resort.

GOOD NEWS (?) BAD NEWS (?) FOR LEE

It's not always easy to get a read on a company's earnings report, and Lee Enterprises, which released its quarterly financials earlier this month, is no exception.

The short version: Lee, the Davenport, Iowa-based company that owns the Arizona Daily Star, lost money. But its stock price, which had dipped significantly prior to the news, climbed above the $4 mark again.

Lee had revenues of $177.4 million in the 13-week period that ended Dec. 29. That's down 3.9 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Combined print and digital advertising and marketing services revenue was down 5 percent, to $122.4 million. But Lee argues that the trends seen in 2013 are improving, and it is clearly hopeful that digital revenues will make up the difference for the money it keeps losing through its print products.

From the print advertising standpoint, retail advertising revenue was down 3.7 percent, classified advertising tumbled 9.2 percent and national sales slipped 3.6 percent. Combined print and digital classified employment revenue decreased 6.2 percent, automotive 12.8 percent and real estate 5 percent.

On the positive side, Lee's digital advertising and marketing services stand-alone revenue increased 9.8 percent, to $18.6 million. The digital stream accounts for 15.2 percent of total advertising and marketing services revenue.

"Lee is off to a solid start in 2014," said Lee chairman and CEO Mary Junck, who receives hefty bonuses for signing off on quarterly statements like this. "We grew digital revenue and audiences at a double-digit clip, continued to reduce operating expenses, again posted strong cash flow and carved off another chunk of debt. We expect overall revenue trends to improve for January and February. In the months ahead, we plan more digital and audience initiatives and we expect continued expense benefit from business transformation initiatives under way."

She skipped the details of why she thinks overall revenue trends will improve in January and February. It likely was a hopeful reference to additional online subscription revenue services the company hopes to implement by April.

"We plan to launch new subscription models in several markets, providing audiences with the printed newspaper along with full access to all of our digital platforms, including Web, app and digital replica across desktop, mobile and tablet," Junck said in the company's financial outlook. "We anticipate good reception to this full-access approach and expect to add additional markets as the year progresses."

Paywall at the Star, anyone? We're three years removed from the first rumblings of its initial launch, and at this stage we'll believe it when we see it.

Meanwhile, Lee refinanced a second-lien loan to the tune of $200 million. This is a restructuring of the initial $175 million second lien it agreed to as part of its bankruptcy exit proceedings. That loan was due in 2017 and Lee was paying an interest rate of 15 percent. The $200 million refinancing stretches the loan to 2022 with a 12 percent interest rate.

BARCHFIELD LATEST REPORTING ADDITION AT AZPM

Tucson native and world traveler Vanessa Barchfield has returned home, accepting a reporter position with Arizona Public Media's radio division. Barchfield graduated from Columbia University and parlayed that into a journalism school stint in Mumbai, India, a reporter gig with Business News Americas in Sao Paolo and an editing slot with the Economist Group and the United Nations during a six-year stay in Vienna.

NOW YOU CAN GETTV

For cord cutters who enjoy the classic TV options, another station has been added to the list—getTV, which features a healthy does of Hollywood movies from the 1930s to 1960s. It is available locally at Channel 46.3. That's one of the piggyback feeds for Univision affiliate KUVE-TV, which is licensed in Green Valley. KUVE provides more Spanish-language programming options with a station at 46.2.

GetTV is associated with the Sony Pictures Television Network and joins an ever-increasing inventory of alternative viewing possibilities with HD signals. COZI TV, a classic movies/TV combo network, already broadcasts on KVOA Channel 4's 4.2 signal. Antenna TV (featuring mostly television series from the 1950s to the 1980s) is showcased as part of KGUN Channel 9's package on 9.2. MOVIES is available on 11.2, a piggyback station for KMSB Channel 11, and MeTV, which also features a combination of classic films and TV series, is located at 13.2 as part of KOLD Channel 13's group of TV stations.

And that barely scratches the surface. A cursory search of Phoenix antenna options, for instance, at least doubles the potential for viewing stations that are attempting to find a niche in the classic TV fare marketplace.

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