Media Watch

Your Weekly Woeful Economic Update

Budget-slicing at radio conglomerate Citadel Broadcasting Corporation continues. The Las Vegas-based company, which operates five stations in Tucson, trimmed the payroll of salaried, full-time employees by 3 percent.

Additionally, Citadel bid aloha to KHYT FM 107.5 program director Darrin Arriens. Arriens moved from Grand Rapids, Mich., to accept the PD position at what was then Rock 107.5 in December 2006.

Meanwhile, Journal Broadcasting, which operates four Tucson radio stations, reported a national radio-revenue decline of 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same time frame the year before. Journal pulled in $19.7 million, down from $21.4 million.

In sad newspaper news: The Vail Sun shut down after a run of less than two years on the eastside. The sagging economy was blamed for the community newspaper's inability to maintain stability. It was operated by Wick Communications, which also publishes the Tucson Weekly.

"It is heartfelt and unfortunate that we have to suspend a paper that is welcomed and loved by the community," said publisher Susan Perry in the paper's Feb. 3 edition. "The Vail Sun was a great source of information, and we worked hard to deliver a great product every week. ... I would also like to thank the community, advertisers and local businesses for all the support that we have received. I am hopeful that the economy will turn around and give us the chance to bring back the Vail Sun."


The Arizona Daily Star has revamped its business section. Former business editor Tim Steller will become the newspaper's senior business reporter, while former Sunday editor Norma Coile takes the reins as business editor. Additionally, former senior investigative reporter Ric Volante is moving to the business desk to cover Raytheon. Gabriela Rico, who moved to the Star's business section from the Tucson Citizen, will handle breaking news in the Metro section beginning in March.


In one of the lower ratings displays in recent memory, adult-contemporary KMXZ FM 94.9 returned to the top spot, according to Arbitron's 12-plus (listeners 12 and older) fall 2008 numbers.

Journal-owned MIXfm won the race with a ratings share of 8.3. That would have placed it third in previous ratings books, and it's the station's lowest ratings number in almost a year--yet it was still six-tenths of a percentage point better than its closest competitor, Citadel-owned country station KIIM FM 99.5, which registered a 7.7, its worst 12-plus number in years. Clear Channel-owned Top 40 station KRQQ FM 93.7 also had a 7.7. That's consistent with its summer ratings book, but off from the 8s it was tallying in other recent books.

Despite the lag for the top three, alternative station KFMA FM 92.9 logged what might be its most impressive book, an overall rating of 5.2, good for fourth in the market. Lotus cohort KCMT FM 102.1 had a 5.0 tally, down a bit for La Caliente, the market's top regional-Mexican music-format station.

Clear Channel-owned KOHT FM 98.3 (rhythmic; 4.5), Lotus-owned KLPX FM 96.1 (classic rock; 4.3), Clear Channel-owned KNST AM 790 (news/talk; 3.9), Journal-owned KQTH FM 102.1 (The Truth; news/talk; 3.6) and Clear Channel-owned KWMT FM 92.9 (The Mountain; triple-A; 3.0) round out the top 10.

While many of the top guns took hits, a number of the market's also-rans delivered improved efforts. Citadel adult-standards format KTUC AM 1400 jumped from a 1.4 to 2.2; Clear Channel's Tejano format KXEW AM 1600 bounced from a .5 to 1.4; while news/talker KJLL AM 1330 improved from a .8 to 1.3, the best book in the station's history.

Big losers included KHYT FM 107.5, which slipped from a 3.9 in the last book to a 2.2, and KNST, which fell from 4.7 to 3.9, leaving it just .3 ahead of FM talk rival KQTH, potentially setting up the first actual talk ratings battle in Tucson in recent memory. Spanish-oldies format KTZR 97.1 FM fell from a 2.6 to 2.0.


The FBI has taken over the investigation into the Comcast Super Bowl porn interruption.

"Comcast has conducted an extensive, methodical investigation of the Super Bowl programming interruption in Tucson, and we have verified that this was an intentional, malicious act. Our investigation has proven that our technical systems were working properly," said Comcast corporate affairs manager Kelle Maslyn in a statement that did not elaborate on the technical insight necessary to pull off such an act. "We have determined that the next step is to turn the investigation over to the FBI. We have shared all of our information on this situation with the FBI and will continue to provide our full cooperation to them throughout their investigation."

Comcast analog viewers were greeted by two Super Bowl interruptions, meaning they got to briefly watch pay-per-view porn instead.


The local NBC and CBS television affiliates received some nods in the regional 2009 Associated Press Television and Radio Association Mark Twain Awards. In the Class One television category, KOLD Channel 13's Chuck George took home Best Weathercast honors, while KOLD's Damien Alameda was honored in the Best Sports Reporting category for his "Where's Tiger?" Tiger Woods feature. KOLD's Richard Beissel was nominated for Best Feature Editing for an "Overtime" segment.

In the Class Two television category, KVOA Channel 4's Sandy Rathbun and Paul Hanke landed Best Newswriting accolades for their "Where's Mother Goose" piece; Hanke and Josh Benson garnered a Best Coverage of an Ongoing Story nomination for "The Big Switch"; and the KVOA news staff received a nomination for their coverage of the shooting death of Tucson Police Department officer Erik Hite in the same category. The KVOA staff also earned a Best Feature editing nod.