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Minkus lands gig with ESPN

Matt Minkus, a Tucson native who has been a part of the local sports scene via podcasts, online forums and most recently sports updates and producer for Scripps owned KQTH 104.1 FM, has accepted a production assistant position with ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut.

"Working at ESPN is a unique opportunity," said Minkus via email. "It's a talented group I will be joining, and I hope to add something to the mix as well as continue to learn and gain new skills."

Minkus showed a determination to break into Tucson's traditional sports radio scene by taking advantage of online technology and launching a podcast alongside cohort Victor Rodriguez while the two were still students at the UA. The program garnered notoriety because of the pair's ability to land top-level guests, not always an easy accomplishment, even for traditional radio outlets in a market Tucson's size.

However, it was difficult to parlay that niche into Tucson's limited terrestrial radio on-air talk options, so he accepted a position with Scripps Tucson that included behind the scenes duties and sports updates on Tucson Morning News, news-talker KQTH's news wheel hosted by Mike Rapp.

"I will miss working with Mike Rapp and the rest of the KQTH staff as it was a great experience, but it's time to step out of my comfort zone and try something more challenging," said Minkus.

Even though Minkus rarely if ever appeared on Scripps' sports talker KFFN AM 1490/FM 104.9, he'll now be on hand for much of the programming provided to the station through its affiliation with ESPN.

Meanwhile, KFFN went outside the building to fill the vacancy left by Zach Clark's brief hiatus earlier this month. Clark, the station's only local host, was out on maternity leave during the NCAA Tournament, and KFFN filled his absence with a combination of Chris Beckett and KGUN TV 9 sports anchors.

Beckett went by the name Chris "The Ego" during his days as Program Director at new rock music station KFMA 102.1 FM. Lots of folks in radio circles in town say Beckett is good people, and the fill-in stints were perfectly acceptable, yet it still seems curious management opted to go outside for a radio personality with music chops when at least two dedicated employees in the building have long wanted opportunities for sports air time.

With Clark returning, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Beckett remain in the building. He could very well transition to a morning position with Scripps' old-school music station KTGV FM 106.3.

Bernie reaches far right to expand his audience

It's a shame Arizona's presidential campaign season concluded March 22, because amidst all the loony tune components of this election cycle, a bit of added entertainment occurred every time a Bernie Sanders ad played on a conservative talk radio station.

Likely, most of the ads were part of larger cluster-driven buys, meaning candidates purchased time with an ownership group like iheartmedia and Scripps and then the stations divvied ads across a multitude of stations. But as election day neared, that meant KNST AM 790 morning host Garrett Lewis concluded a segment that likely involved his on-air lovefest for Donald Trump, only to go to break as audience members were adorned with 30 or 60 seconds of Sanders lamenting the vitriol of the right.

And it happened throughout the day. Rush Limbaugh segment; Sanders ad. Sean Hannity segment; here's Raul Grijalva on his support for Sanders. Across town at KQTH, same dynamic, only with local hosts Jon Justice and James T. Harris acting as commercial break lead-ins for the Sanders "Bern."

While it was certainly a fascinating dynamic that likely didn't sway a single vote in Sanders' column, at least folks got to hear Grijalva on a local conservative talk station, and that probably hasn't happened in Tucson since his first term in congress.

Downtown Radio schedules fundraiser

KTDT-LP, better known as Downtown Radio at 99.1 FM, is teaming with The Screening Room for a benefit concert Saturday, April 9.

"This is going to be a really cool event that's intended to be a showcase of the local neo-psych scene," said Downtown Radio Head Honcho Jason LeValley in an email to the station's volunteer contributors. "The bands playing it are Crystal Radio, Mute Swan, Cobra Family Picnic, Wet Marble, and Trees Speak."

The event will also help get the word out on Downtown Radio, which in mid-March reached its sixth month on air. The low power FM broadcasts with a signal that, not surprisingly given its moniker, serves most of downtown, but expands easily beyond the UA campus and has solid reach throughout the community.

More info on the benefit at downtownradio.org.

For purposes of disclosure and shameless self-promotion, the Media Watch Columnist hosts a prog rock show entitled The Schuniverse on Downtown Radio Friday nights from 9-11.

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