Media Watch

Hannah Levin rocks your ride home, KXCI style

Among Tucson's national accolades of late—the New York Times singling out a certain style of architecture; recognition for its improving foodie scene—was a note in the Chicago Tribune that referred to community radio station KXCI FM 91.3 as a benchmark for the model, and for presenting quality music on the terrestrial band in general.

A lot of the programming credit goes to Cathy Rivers, who was promoted to GM following the successful tenure of Randy Peterson. But in addition to knowing music, and knowing what combination of songs makes for a good, unique sound, she also knows talent. And knows talent that knows music.

Enter Hannah Levin, the new voice of the Home Stretch, KXCI's afternoon drive-time program. She took the reins after Rivers' GM promotion, and has put the proverbial pedal to the metal since opening the mic.

If you haven't noticed, KXCI rocks in afternoon drive, but it does it in a way that still balances the station's musical mission.

"It's The Home Stretch. It's drive time, high energy," said Levin, who started in May. "What we aim for with that show is a variety mix that appeals to a broad audience. That means all genres, all eras, local and national. Probably 50 percent of it is new releases, the rest is older and classic stuff, a whole mix of things. Between 5-6, that's when you crank up the rock and get people as they're riding home. That's what I'm here to do."

Levin is uniquely qualified to deliver the goods.

"I've been in the music industry since the late '90s. When I first got into it in Seattle, it was obviously a pretty exciting time there," said Levin. "I was a band manager, publicist, concert promoter for a while, and eventually I remembered I liked writing and fell into music journalism, which I started in 2000. For the better part of 15 years, I was a columnist and freelancer for Rolling Stone, Spin, Time Out London and had columns in The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger in Seattle. A lot of stuff got syndicated in places like The Village Voice. I still dabble, but it's not a heavy part of my career now."

The involvement in other facets of music opened the door to radio, a personal passion that appealed to Levin at a young age.

"I've wanted to be a DJ since I was 10," said Levin. "Because I've been in the music industry for awhile, John Richards (the assistant program director at Seattle community radio station KEXP FM 90.3) asked if I wanted to give it a shot. I started hosting the local show, and shortly thereafter I stomped my feet and said we need a metal show. I eventually got my way, and I founded Seek and Destroy, the metal show that still continues on KEXP."

If you haven't checked out Levin's Home Stretch, and the term "metal" doesn't set well with you, don't get the wrong idea. It's not a metal show. Yeah, there's more edge. Yeah, it's more up-tempo, but even though she sports a tattoo of Judas Priest's Rocka Rolla on her forearm, Levin isn't inundating listeners with the high-pitched wailing of Rob Halford and the dual-guitar virtuosity of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing.

You might get Queens of the Stone Age and P.J. Harvey, and of course, KXCI's desire to push new music and local talent. In fact, the burgeoning local music scene played a major role in Levin's desire to give Tucson a go.

"I wanted to take the time to check out the scene," Levin said.

And she feels a symmetry with Rivers as they continue to work to build KXCI's successful local radio footprint.

"Cathy is someone who I walked into the room, shook her hand and thought you're my kind of people. She has great vision and so many great ideas for the station. It's really hard to do all the amazing stuff she wants to do while being tethered to a microphone. She'll still fill in when she can, but has lots of work to do, and I was very happy to free up some of her time. There's a ton of work to do, but it's primarily incredibly exciting and exhilarating. We work together beautifully. There's nowhere to go but up."

The Star's click bait fail

Nice to see the Arizona Daily Star at it again via, which should get a nomination for the industry's most user-unfriendly website.

Tucson's daily thought it a fine idea to reach out to the community to get their feedback on the 50 Things That Are Distinctively Tucson.

It's a reasonable enough list story that features its share of social media involvement. Reach out to readers, get some feedback on what makes Tucson Tucson and put it in a story when things are slow in the summer.

That's all well and good. And probably even readable in the print edition.

But online, it gave the Star an opportunity to again put pretense ahead of convenience by using the story as nothing more than a chance to inflate its hit count tally.

Instead of making "Distinctively Tucson" a one-click read, or even breaking it up into a list of maybe 10 items per link, the folks at the Star thought it an excellent idea to make anyone who wanted to find out what the newspaper—or more accurately, what the public who reads the newspaper—thinks is distinctive click 54 times to read the list from beginning to end.

Why 54? Well, you had to give advertisers like Tucson Medical Center their own link before you got to the content. Duh. If anyone actually took the time to navigate the site's slow load and constant text shifting 54 times to read the story beginning to end, they should receive some badge of honor for completing such an arduous task.

The list model for websites as an effort to inflate hit counts is a common crap approach designed to try to show advertisers a specific site gets a lot of traffic. By now, advertisers and ad agencies should be well aware of the game, and leery of the tactic.