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Wheel no longer turns at KQTH

News/talk FM KQTH 104.1 has abandoned its morning drive news wheel and returned local talk host Jon Justice to the slot he occupied for a number of years.

In an effort to add more local content, the Scripps owned format created a news update structure from 6 to 8 p.m. weekdays mornings. News wheels have the potential to be good advertising generators since the format breaks up numerous segments, thus adding to more possible sponsorship opportunities.

But ratings wise, the effort never took hold, and KQTH lost ground consistently to chief news/talk rival AM 790 KNST. Furthermore, the FM's hope to add a local counterprogramming alternative to Rush Limbaugh from 9-noon (sometimes 10 a.m. to noon depending on the time change) struggled as well.

This move brings Justice back to a timeslot that allows for direct competition with KNST morning host Garret Lewis. Former Tucson's Morning News host Mike Rapp chimes in for news updates.

Justice's return to mornings created other format tweaks as well. Syndicated talker Laura Ingraham transitions to familiar local territory, occupying the 10-noon avail. The afternoon lineup remains the same. Syndicated financial advisor Dave Ramsey airs from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays while local afternoon host James T. Harris broadcasts from 2 to 6 p.m..

With Ingraham transitioning out of evenings, KQTH has added the Joe Pags Show from 6 to 9 p.m. Pags' syndicated offering used to air on KNST, but the iheartmedia outlet replaced that slot with Meghan McCain.

On an entirely unrelated note, it turns out that typing kqth.com doesn't take one to the local talker's website. Instead, that domain is occupied by what appears to be a website for Asian dental care, which would seem to set the stage for a snarky comment about how trying to make any logical sense out of the GOP Presidential campaign is a lot like pulling teeth.

Kudos to KFMA for focus on local

Lotus owned KFMA 102.1 FM is gearing up for one of its two annual large concert events this weekend, and as such, for the second consecutive year a local band will perform as show opener. The Eternal Pursuit earned that honor after winning a local Battle of the Bands competition at The Rock nightclub. During buildup of that event, KFMA even played songs from some of the competing artists in prime air shifts.

Local music comes with a stigma. There isn't a consultant in the business who will suggest incorporating local bands as part of a station's regular playlist lineup. And ratings have backed up that thought process. There are two prevailing reasons. First, if you're local—and this doesn't matter if you're "local" in Tucson, Phoenix, LA, Boston, Seattle, Nashville or Austin—it means you're not good enough to be a legitimate national act. In actuality, that might be crap, but it's listener perception. Why? Well, that's point two. Playing a local track takes listeners out of their comfort zones, and in the end, the comfort food mentality is what drives corporate owned terrestrial radio. It's why most music formats, regardless of the breadth and depth of the genre, function with 20-song (at most) playlists. This is why it's so refreshing to see KFMA do what it did. At least it's something, and it's a something that any other ad-driven music station in this market wouldn't even address.

There's a significant distinction between commercial-driven radio stations and the community owned model. On the latter front, Tucson community radio juggernaut KXCI FM 91.3 has long been a champion of the local music scene, and it's done so within the flow of its format. Low Power newcomer Downtown Radio 99.1 FM implemented a philosophy since the day it launched in September that local artists would get the same regular rotation air time afforded the rest of its eclectic musical lineup.

Maybe Bearing Down with Sparky isn't the best idea

So I'm driving around on a recent Saturday listening to a UA baseball broadcast on AM 1290 KCUB, and during an inning break there's a commercial for something called the Bear Down Card. Near as I can tell it's one of those mass-produced coupon discount offer type things, and similar variations likely air across IMG platforms for other universities nationwide.

But the problem isn't so much the product. It's the commercial music bed. The background music on the Bear Down Card ad, an item geared specifically to a UA audience, is the ASU fight song.

How did that happen? Well, more than likely this is a familiar tale of a lack of checks and balances. In the production of the ad, a sales person probably passed a requirement list to a person in production with the instructions to use the Arizona fight song. So the production person, who is stuck in a fluorescent light studio in some other city, did a quick online search for an Arizona fight song, came across the ASU song first and used it as the music bed.

Problem is, somebody else is supposed to listen for these types of snafus, and someone didn't catch the issue, because that someone is located in another city, too. So the last line of defense should be IMG's Tucson location, the outlet that handles the broadcast rights for UA athletics and then funnels their requirements to 1290. The radio station simply plays what's been provided, which is part of the IMG edict. But evidently, nobody at IMG local is up to speed on Bear Down Arizona either, which seems rather curious since the fight song plays ad nauseam on its broadcasts, and since IMG's offices are located at McKale Center, well within listening distance of band practice. The same band that regularly plays the UA fight song.

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