Media Watch

FIRST EDITION: The Tucson dailies used to employ TV and radio columnists, but that's just one more beat they let fall by the wayside in the 1990s. So once again, the Tucson Weekly leaps into the breach--this time with a column called Media Watch.

TW editor Jimmy Boegle asked me to launch this column either because I work cheap, or because I have connections to all kinds of media around town. You'll find a disclosure of my history in local radio and newspapers at the end of the column. (Today's lesson in journalism jargon: That kind of tagline is often called, evocatively, a "shirttail.") As for the present, as a free-lancer, I write and edit for a number of local and national papers, magazines, book publishers and Web sites. Whether that means I have lots of sources who trust me--or lots of conflicts of interest--will be up to you to decide.

Media Watch will not be a snarkfest like The Skinny. Snarkiness has its place, and the lively folks who write The Skinny will happily continue to revel in the foibles and faux pas of Tucson's print and broadcast media. This new column will consist of more straightforward reporting: news and notes about local print, broadcast and Web personnel; programming, ratings and circulation; interviews with local media figures; and analysis of Tucson media trends and controversies.

Even Wick Communications, the owner of the Tucson Weekly, will be subject to my steady gaze, but let me state up front that I am not The Weekly's ombudsman or reader advocate. I'm here to write about the big-picture stuff; if you have a gripe about an individual story, you should continue to harangue editor Jimmy Boegle.

SIBLING RIVALRY: As his fans surely know, syndicated radio talk-show host Don Imus has a brother and sometime sidekick named Fred. Now a resident of Tucson, Fred Imus is launching his own local talk show this week on KJLL-AM 1330, The Jolt.

Station manager Pat Johnston is hoping to syndicate Fred's show down the line, so the program carries the wide-open title, "Out West With Fred Imus and Nicole Cox"; as of Jan. 7, it's been airing 1-3 p.m. weekdays. Co-host Cox is The Jolt's news and entertainment director, and until recently was responsible for the local inserts in "Imus in the Morning," 6-10 a.m. weekdays.

"Fred's got a real country-Western flair about him, and he's also very witty," Johnston enthuses. It's not a music show, though; subjects will range from politics to sports to current events, and the initial guest lineup includes county supe Ray Carroll, councilman Fred Ronstadt and local sports figures.

Johnston says he intends "Out West" to help fill the local talk-radio gap that'll be created later this month, when KTKT shuffles John C. Scott and Emil Franzi off to what may turn out to be a weekend ghetto.

The burning question: Will sibling rivalry lead Don Imus, known as "the I-man," start denigrating Fred as "the F-word"?

-30-: You've probably never heard of Edward B. Havens, and chances are you won't in the future, now that he's shut down his Tucson--Arizona Newsbriefs and its companion daybook service, Tucson News Calendar. But for 13 years, until he retired on New Year's Eve, Havens was largely responsible for shaping the local morning news you got on several Tucson radio and TV stations.

Havens is well-known to the assignment editors and newscasters at KGUN, KOLD, KVOA, KNST and KUAZ/KUAT-FM. Every morning, Havens would e-mail the radio stations ready-to-read news for use in morning drive-time, saving the news anchors from having to arrive at some ungodly hour to pull their stories together from scratch. And he'd send to all his clients a detailed list of events that day that they might consider covering: press conferences, meetings of school boards and city and county government entities, major court cases on the docket and all sorts of public meetings.

Havens, 62, is something of a character, as any good old-style newsman should be. He lists the turning points in his career as being fired from two civilian jobs after he got out of the Army in 1967 (where he'd written war news for Armed Forces Radio and TV in Saigon): first, from his position as a "miserable, low-performing salesman" at the Sierra Vista Herald, and then from a stint as a newscaster at KTKT.

"Phil Richardson fired me because he never got over my driving his news truck into the mud behind his station," Havens claims.

Havens had marginally more successful stints at KTAR in Phoenix (a full six weeks as morning editor) and at KOLD. He eventually went to work for United Press International and served as that wire service's Tucson bureau chief in the 1980s. When UPI pulled out of Tucson in 1990, Havens went free-lance.

For the past 13 years, his workday started at 5 p.m., when he'd spend four hours monitoring TV newscasts and putting together the next morning's daybook. "News acrobatics," he calls it. After a bit of Jay Leno, he'd sleep until 3:30 a.m., then assemble the news copy he'd transmit to radio stations at 5:30. He'd continue working until about 8:30, polishing off the day's calendar of events.

He kept his phone number unlisted. When his number had appeared in the Yellow Pages under "News Agencies," people would assume he was connected with the Star and Citizen and would interrupt his naps demanding why their papers hadn't been delivered.

Now that he's retired, Havens swears the only deadlines he's going to care about are his grandchildren's birthdays and April 15. Let's hope that this week he's finally getting a good night's sleep.

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