While it's a step down in market size, it's a move up in terms of placement. James will occupy the weather chair during KGUN's prime-time newscasts.
"I've been doing morning shows from Minneapolis to Utah for nine years," James said. "I'm just ready to take in more responsibilities, get our team together and really shine out there. I'm ready to go."
For James, it's a change on numerous fronts. In addition to differences in time slots and climate, James also has to get used to Tucson's often-unique pronunciation guide.
"I have to dig into the geography of the area," James said. "Things like Ajo (ah-ho) I pronounced ah-jo, names of different counties--the things any guy has to get familiar with before he moves to a different city. I made a number of mistakes, let's put it that way."
Names are just the beginning of James' concerns. The station is hoping he'll be a personality that can help move KGUN from its No. 3 place in the market.
"At least they were honest with me in telling me that, so I know what I'm getting myself into," James said. "They still have Guy (Atchley) there, and Jennifer (Waddell) seems to be wonderful. I did a few auditions with them with cross-chat and everything, and things seemed to flow pretty well."
Weather is one of the real dichotomies of local news. In Tucson, things are usually pretty easy to predict, yet every station considers it a priority and often pushes it high into the news block, sometimes to the point of absurdity. If it's overcast, they'll lead with weather.
But the person responsible for the weather is also the newscast's foremost personality, and as such plays a major role in how the station positions itself from a visibility standpoint in the market.
"I looked at some of the competition in town, and it's definitely formidable, especially (Chuck George) at (KOLD) 13," James said. "He has a good track record. He was in Houston for awhile, and I was watching his presentation style. Mine probably won't be that fast, but that personality ingredient would definitely be unique. I saw that guy Jimmy (Stewart) at (KVOA) 4. I'm not going to steal his viewers, I can tell you that. Hopefully, I can liven things up a bit and give that guy at 13 a good run for his money."
James is scheduled to make his Tucson debut sometime in March. He will also participate in cross-promotional endeavors on some of the Journal Broadcasting-owned radio stations during their morning shows.
NO ONE GOT THE POINTSpeaking of Journal, KZPT 104.1 FM, formerly known as The Point, changed its format Feb. 1. The long-stagnating "'80s, '90s and Now" format has been scrapped in favor of "Modern Hit Music" under the moniker of Z 104.1.
SHOOTING FROM THE HIPThe KOLD sports team has made the transition from television to radio as KCUB 1290 AM The Source pegged the three-man crew of Scott Kilbury, Arran Andersen and Laurence Scott as hosts of the 3-6 p.m. weekday timeslot.
The three TV sportscasters are the new hosts of The Shootout.
"When you say Shootout, it's just shooting off," said Kilbury during an interview I conducted on 1290, where I also work, the day of the announcement. "We're not necessarily going to be in favor of everybody's topic, and that's why having three people brings a different perspective. Maybe we have a little controversy. We don't always agree. In the sports office (at KOLD), a lot of people break up a lot of fights, so maybe that's what will happen."
Said Scott, "It's going to be a lot of analysis on the (UA Wildcats). We're not going to shy away from hammering down opinions."
While the foundations of TV sports and radio sports talk have similarities--sports reporters talking about sports--the actual process is very different. Television sportscasters are asked to fill a three-minute block, while in radio, a segment routinely runs more than twice that time, followed by another segment that runs more than twice that time, followed by another, and so on. It's not that one is better than the other; it's more an issue of understanding and time adaptation. It's a matter of television's necessity for brevity vs. the radio format's need for expanding on thoughts.
"There's no question that's a challenge for them, and at first, it looks like a real daunting task, but the fact is, when you're putting together a sports menu, you need three hours if you want to handle all the topics," said Source program director Chuck Meyer. "Instead of being shrunk to 12 seconds of B roll in a TV studio, you might turn it into a good 12-minute interview."
That isn't the only adjustment the TV guys have had to make.
"I had to buy them headsets, because none of them knew what headsets were," Meyer said. "There's a certain transition involved here, but the fact is, these guys are very conscientious. They want to make it work, and they're very passionate about doing the radio thing."
The appeal for the Source: cross-promotion.
"The lure of doing this show with these guys is they have a built-in profile and are connected very well with Tucson sports," Meyer said. "It was a natural for us. It provides a great opportunity for the radio station to be cross-promoted with TV. In addition, they are solid talents who want to go places with the radio show that (are) a natural extension for where the radio station wants to go, too."