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Germano concludes News Director run with KOLD

Michelle Germano, instrumental in KOLD's rise as a major player in local news, has accepted a position as news director with WTVD TV, the ABC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

After languishing in local news for years, KOLD hired Germano at a point where the station was finding its footing. She oversaw a staff that maintained remarkable stability in key positions for a number of years as the CBS affiliate became a consistent No. 1 in the market behind the likes of Dan Marries, Heather Rowe and meteorologist Chuck George, who during his time on the local airwaves was probably Tucson news' most popular on-air talent.

Add that to the strong addition of Teresa Jun, not to mention veteran reporters and/or anchors Barbara Grijalva, Mindy Blake, Bud Foster, Jim Becker, JD Wallace and others, KOLD sported as sound and consistent a news crew as any in town.

With Germano at the helm, KOLD was also the first station in Tucson to effectively embrace and implement social media aspects to its news-gathering and marketing efforts. KGUN has since significantly improved its understanding of the social media marriage with the traditional television platform, but even with that in mind KOLD emanates a with-the-times vibe that has helped with its consistent ratings performances.

It's even done well after signing a shared news production arrangement with Belo (now Gannett) owned television station KMSB TV 11. KMSB pays KOLD to produce its news content, and KOLD reporters are consistently transitioning across both stations. That's not at all within the wink-wink nod-nod spirit of producing strictly different product for the FOX and CBS affiliate,--it's pretty much the same newscast on both stations, which is one of the key concerns from detractors of these agreements--but since KOLD took over, there's no question KMSB's news presence looks significantly more professional.

Raleigh-Durham is the nation's No. 25 ranked market. Tucson is market size 71.

Fox Sports cutbacks change local sports reporting dynamic

When Fox Sports gutted its regional coverage model earlier this summer, the trickle down directly affected veteran reporters Anthony Gimino and Steve Rivera, who between them have more than 50 years experience covering Wildcat football and men's basketball.

Gimino and Rivera were collateral damage in dramatic cutbacks by the sports network, which basically realized it couldn't keep pace with ESPN, and as a result decided having freelancers with deep knowledge of a specific program wasn't a real value any longer.

It's not just Gimino and Rivera. The Fox Sports cutbacks affected numerous talented long-time journalists, many sacrificed in last decade's nationwide newspaper layoff bloodbath. But from a local perspective, Gimino and Rivera were vital to the Fox Sports brand. In addition to having covered the Wildcats for decades, they have penned numerous books, sometimes in collaboration, sometimes on their own accord, related to the history of the UA's two most noteworthy sports programs.

Yes. They wrote the books on Arizona sports. Bunches and bunches and bunches of books.

Fortunately, even with the Fox Sports decision, both continue to cobble freelance opportunities. Gimino is part of KOLD's sports website presence. Meanwhile, Rivera has transitioned to scout.com, where he provides coverage for Arizona.scout.com. It also keeps a rather impressive streak alive. Rivera has been on press row for UA men's basketball games since 1992.

The Fox Sports move occurred shortly before the summer's ESPN meltdown. The Worldwide Leader in Sports discovered the hard way a lot less of the world is watching its cable product. The reason: a lot less people are watching cable.

Cord cutting is bad news for the entire industry. It's disastrous for ESPN. Disney, which owns ESPN, loved being in a stranglehold position for the only television programming that was so-called DVR proof. In short, you had to watch sports live because with technological advances and social media platforms like twitter, it was a lot more difficult to avoid a game score for later viewing. That was great news for advertisers, who were (and are) struggling with the fast-forward nature of DVR technology.

But when fewer people have DVRs because less people have cable and satellite, it doesn't much matter that folks are forced to watch the ads. That's because ESPN charges, by far, the highest per-channel rate of any station. Tack on its peripheral outlets like ESPN 2 and U, which also charge hefty user fees, and having fewer users dramatically hurts Mickey Mouse's sports bottom line.

When cord cutting numbers were revealed earlier this summer, and those numbers indicated the slippery slope was nearing terminal velocity a lot faster than most industry experts predicted, it created a quandary for a company saddled with expensive live sports fees charged by leagues and organizations that also saw what they viewed as the potential of live sports programming. They were more than happy to watch ESPN pay exorbitant rates for the rights to carry their product.

But that meant something had to give, and ESPN parted ways with some significant and highly recognizable talent as a result. It also jettisoned studio and locational expansion plans.

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