Calling it a welcome return home, David Rupkalvis has accepted the position as editor of Tucson Local Media. In the role, he's responsible for the content of TLM's six area publications.
Rupkalvis replaces Thelma Grimes, who relocated to Denver to be closer to her husband, who accepted a job in Colorado earlier this year.
The son of Army parents—his father played in the Army band, his mother was a nurse—as he was growing up, the family had to make a choice on their next destination.
"You can go to Hawaii or you can go to Arizona," said Rupkalvis. "They probably chose Arizona because they couldn't afford Hawaii. Nevertheless, we ended up at Fort Huachuca. I was either on base or in Sierra Vista through high school, came up to Tucson to go to college and moved back to Sierra Vista to start my career. Was there for 10 years. I'm a Southern Arizona boy. It's the place I've lived the most for one time."
After a decade-long stint as a sports and news reporter at the Sierra Vista Herald, Rupkalvis accepted a position with the New Braunsfels, Texas, Herald-Zeitung to be in closer proximity to his ailing mother.
"On my first day on the job my editor called me in and said I had to fire my sports editor last night and it's the first day of football season," Rupkalvis said. "My sports background came in handy. After about 10 days he called me in and asked if I wanted to be sports editor. I looked him right in the eye and said absolutely not. I'm a reporter, not an editor."
That hardline conviction lasted into the evening, until he ran head first into someone else's practical hardline perspective.
"I told my wife what happened, she said 'How much does it pay?' I told her and she said you're taking that job. The next day I was a sports editor," Rupkalvis said. "That was all my wife. I wasn't going to do it, but she's a lot smarter than me."
That conversation changed Rupkalvis' newspaper path. He's been in management roles ever since, including his most recent position with North Dakota's Minot Daily News, but in each stop he's made it a point to balance the roles to maintain a writing presence.
"I worked with a lot of editors that didn't write anymore," said Rupkalvis. "They became editors and that's all they did. I just love writing too much. As I've moved forward in my career, no matter where it's been, I've insisted I'm going to keep writing, and I'm going to do the same thing here. I love writing too much to walk away from it completely."
Under the TLM umbrella, Rupkalvis anticipates he'll put fingers to keyboard when there's some space that needs to be filled, and when he encounters a story that appeals to him.
"I'll find some feature stories I like," Rupkalvis said. "I love stories about veterans. I seem to never get enough about World War II vets. Unfortunately, not a lot of them are around any more, but every time I come across one I want to tell their story."
From a management perspective, Tucson Local Media presents some unfamiliar structural challenges.
"I've spent my entire career at dailies. I've never worked for a company that had six different publications," said Rupkalvis. "Tucson Weekly kind of takes care of itself because (manging editor) Mari (Herreras) does a good job and they have a good system there. My challenge is understanding and figuring out what's important to five different regions we cover, and we cover them in a different manner. The staff is there. They do a good job. They know what's important. It's going to take me a little while to learn that stuff."
It helps that Rupkalvis comes into the position with an understanding of the region. Still, he faces his share of adjustments to get up to speed with the expectations and requirements of the job.
"The individual communities are things I'm going to have to learn, and I've been doing a lot of research to get an idea what's going on. It will take time to meet people, talk to them and see what's important to them," Rupkalvis said. "Southern Arizona is a big place. When we work on Inside Tucson Business, that's Tucson in general, which is different than working on a story for Marana or the Foothills or Desert Times down south. There's a lot of variety, but there's a lot of commonality as well."
Said Rupkalvis, "The goal is to keep improving and put out a product people are happy to read that hopefully informs them, educates them and teaches them something about their home."
Which is what it's all about.
"I keep saying I got to come home. "
Dan Ryan was Tucson sports institution
Former KVOA sports anchor Dan Ryan was found dead last week in his apartment. Cause of death is an apparent heart attack. For sports fans, and fans of local news, Ryan was a familiar face in Tucson, where he spent close to 20 years as the sports anchor during a point in time when KVOA dominated local news ratings.
His on-air career concluded in late 2006. After a couple stints in media sales, he landed a position as the community relations director for Rosemont Copper. He joined Rosemont in 2010.
Among countless media-related honors, Ryan was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. In addition to his lengthy stay in Tucson, Ryan also worked as a sports reporter for television stations in Albuquerque and Denver.