BOOK DOCUMENTS HISTORY OF TUCSON RADIO
As a young lad growing up in Tucson, Russ Jackson, along with the other members of his Blenman Elementary School fifth-grade class, visited the KTUC radio studios near Broadway and Tyndall to participate in a Thanksgiving special.
That was in 1945.
"I fell in love with the business at that time and have been around it ever since," said Jackson, who at 79 is celebrating the release of his book, Tucson Radio.
Jackson's book, from Arcadia Publishing, hits retailers and online outlets this week. It's co-authored by fellow Tucson broadcasting historian C. J. Brown, and covers the onset of the industry here and the numerous personalities who made themselves part of the community's fabric.
Among those featured are Jim Slone, who turned his Tucson radio properties into an empire before selling it to Citadel Broadcasting for more than $60 million, and Jim Arnold, currently the GM for the television operation at Tucson's Journal Broadcast Group, a radio Hall of Famer who has spent most of his career in this market and was among the memorable radio talents of the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
"He's one of the greatest people I've ever met," Jackson said.
Also highlighted are Lew Jones and Lou Waters, who teamed up for the aptly named Lew-Lou Morning Show on KTKT; Phyllis Ehlinger, who was connected to radio properties in the Old Pueblo up until a few years ago; and Brian Jeffries, who is nearing his 30th year as the play-by-play voice of UA athletics.
Tucson Radio covers the personalities who fueled the rise of some of the market's most noteworthy signals, such as Frank Kalil at KTKT and Bill Mortimer, who worked at numerous local stations. The book also takes you right up to the present with a look at 94.9 KMXZ personality Bobby Rich. And Jeff Davis provided insight about the rise of top-40 station KRQQ 93.7 FM.
KTKT which longtime radio listeners remember as a dominant force in the market for years, "was probably the most formidable radio station that ever existed in the state of Arizona, let alone Tucson," Jackson said.
The book also branches into other areas of the Tucson radio scene. For instance, there's a brief section on the impact of Spanish-language radio in the market, not to mention the medium's impact on nearby Native American reservations.
"The most interesting story was low-power station KTYT, owned by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe," Jackson said.
Jackson, a Tucson High and UA grad, worked in broadcasting here in a number of capacities before moving to California in 1965 to teach broadcasting.
"I have a superstar list of Southern California broadcasters who came out of that program," Jackson said. "I was able to stay with (the business) after I left the air."
Jackson currently resides in Dallas.
Arcadia Publishing, which also puts out the Images of America series, has published more than 50 titles devoted to regional broadcasting. They are reminders of a time before clusters like Clear Channel and Cumulus bought sizable brick-and-mortar structures that once housed studios alive with activity and turned them into virtual ghost towns.
Among the sad local radio ironies is that Clear Channel continues to sell a studio sponsorship for KRQ when there hasn't been a live daily broadcast from that studio facility in years.
"It ain't what it used to be, but what is," Jackson reflected. "That's another reason this book is important. It freezes in writing what was. That's what we set out to do. I've enjoyed doing this project. It put me in touch with a lot of people I've known and others I would have liked to know in those days, right up through now."
Tucson Radio is available at arcadiapublishing.com and numerous book-related online outlets. The list price is $21.99.
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR NEWSIN'
In case we needed to be reminded that you can find pretty much anything on the Internet, the KGUN Channel 9 Morning Blend co-anchors were recently featured in a blog that focuses on boot-wearing newswomen.
To the blogger's credit, appreciationofbootednewswomen.blogspot.com lives up to its website moniker, and is an impressively exhaustive collection of newsroom bootitude.
The site, which labels itself (and dare I say probably accurately) as "The nation's No. 1 resource for coverage of local television stations' fashionable newswomen and the boots they wear," featured the Morning Blend's Amanda Guralski and Sally Shamrell in February.
The site, which says it has had more than 9 million views since its inception in 2010, announced a summer hiatus earlier this week. Makes sense. Boots get hot in the summer, so it seems like a good time to, um, reboot for the fall.