A YEAR AFTER SITTON'S DEATH, BUEHLER-GARCIA MAINTAINS PART OF RADIO LEGACY
When Dave Sitton died last August at the age of 58, his sudden passing sent shockwaves through the place he called home, the place he dedicated countless hours through community service endeavors.
Sitton was known to most for his broadcasting acumen—he was the long-time television voice for UA men's basketball games and held that position up until the launch of the Pac-12 Networks—but his desire to make Tucson a better place was apparent through tireless charitable pursuits.
Among his interests, Sitton, the man who basically created the successful UA rugby program, saw through that experience the importance of mentoring college-age youth, believing the life transitions that occur between high school and the responsibilities of early adulthood go a long way toward guiding the course for the rest of one's life. As a result, Sitton was focused on helping youth make good decisions that gave them a better opportunity to succeed.
He also held military service in high regard, and felt it important to recognize the contributions of those who participated in the armed services. In addition to behind-the-scenes involvement, Sitton brought those two elements to the fore through a pair of brokered shows which aired on KQTH 104.1 FM: The American Warrior and Daily Male, broadcast on Sunday afternoons.
Once Sitton died, the future of those programs was naturally in limbo, but Ben Buehler-Garcia, who had co-hosted on a number of occasions alongside Sitton, was able to take the reins and resume Sitton's radio legacy in December.
"One of the things I feel strongly about is not letting the messages of those who have come through our lives just disappear when that person is gone. Preserving those ideas and thoughts and lessons learned is important for now and for future generations. What can we do to preserve his memory and the impact he had on this community," Buehler-Garcia said. "I felt we needed to continue his programs because of the messages they conveyed and their value. To me that seemed like the next logical step. Not being a radio guy, I didn't much think about the logistics of how to do that. We're just going to forge ahead and get it done. From that standpoint I'm very proud of the programming we've been able to present. We've had great local guests and top-notch national guests."
In addition to well-known military figures from the national theater, the likes of actors Gary Sinise and Joe Montegna have made guest appearances as well.
It's been an on-the-fly learning experience for Buehler-Garcia, who realizes he has some big shoes to fill, not just in terms of broadcast chops, but community involvement.
"He was a true professional, but his passion is what struck me," Buehler-Garcia said. "Whether it was for the men and women of our military or doing a better job mentoring our youth, he was full throttle, and I always admired that. We'd get to talking on occasion about his time as an honorary commander on the base and he'd just be like an eight-year-old. He got so giddy and loved being involved in that level."
While this weekend's shows could spend a great deal of time reflecting on the anniversary of Sitton's death, Buehler-Garcia hopes they also focus on other aspects.
"I don't want to have just another let's sit around and mourn Dave show," Buehler-Garcia said. "What I'm trying to put together is a feature on Daily Male on one of the programs he helped establish, and that's the relationship he put together between the rugby team and the 55th rescue squadron at Davis-Monthan. That was a thing where on an annual basis the players would go out and they'd be put through a boot camp of sorts, and it helped to cement an important relationship between the two. I'm hoping to do a feature on that. This is something Dave Sitton established, and it's a good thing for the community."
American Warrior airs noon to 1 Sundays on KQTH followed immediately by an hour of Daily Male.
"Dave has gone onto better things," Buehler-Garcia said. "I know that for the regular guests and some of the folks that interacted with him, it seems like yesterday yet it seems forever ago."
SCRIPPS PURCHASES JOURNAL
Tucson television stations KGUN 9 and KWBA 58 and four radio stations are about to have new owners. Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps purchased the properties of the Journal Broadcast Group, based out of Milwaukee.
Through the deal, Journal sheds its broadcast entities to focus its media business on newspapers. Scripps, meanwhile, becomes the nation's fifth-largest independent holder of television stations, with 34 signals nationwide, and re-enters the radio fray by virtue of Journal's 35 radio outlets.
In this market, KMXZ 94.9 MixFm is the plum, routinely landing in the top-three in quarterly ratings and revenue generated. Scripps also acquires KTGV 106.3 FM, KQTH 104.1 FM and KFFN 1490 AM/104.9 FM.
While the boards of both companies approved the deal, it isn't expected to officially close until 2015.
ALL COMMERCIALS, ALL THE TIME
Sunday evening, sports station KCUB 1290 AM seemed to be in the midst of a fascinating format philosophy. Just play all commercials, all the time. The station broadcast three consecutive hours of commercials as a way to fill airtime following a glitch in programming.
This was supposed to be the sports format's debut of its Westwood One football package, kicked off with the Hall of Fame Game between Buffalo and the New York Giants. The launch didn't exactly go as planned, but when Westwood One programming was unavailable, it also blocked out access to the CBS Sports Network, of which 1290 is an affiliate.
So there was nothing to play, except commercials sprinkled with occasional dead air. For those who happened to tune in to sample the unique format experiment, at least they're now painfully aware that you can call Thomas Wilson if you need a lifeline.