Landing Erin Christiansen was the first KGUN Channel 9 salvo in its efforts to improve its stock in the local news ratings war.
Christiansen is appearing on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts. She joined KGUN officially this week.
"I think we saw a great opportunity here at the station to hire someone with a lot of appeal in the market," said KGUN News Director Lena Sadiwskyj, citing Christiansen's experience as "real meteorologist."
Christiansen was a well-known part of the KOLD Channel 13 weather team, but generally occupied the morning show and noon news slot while Chuck George handled weather during prime time. Now they'll be squaring off.
"She's going to be doing something for us she wasn't doing for them: Getting key visibility during the evening hours," Sadiwskyj said. "With Chuck George, he's the main guy over there and does a great job. Erin is getting a chance to compete against Chuck, and I think that's good for us and good for the market."
The decision means a move for Jeff James, who was hired from Salt Lake City to replace Paul Huttner. James shifts to the 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts.
"I'm going to have the No. 1 weather team," Sadiwskyj said. "... Erin is a great meteorologist. The market knows her. It will be great having her as part of our team. KGUN wants to win weather, and hiring Erin is a step toward that."
Christiansen's departure marks the third on-air talent loss for KOLD in a month. Sportscaster Arran Andersen is already in Sacramento, and primetime news anchor Kris Pickel is not far behind.
More changes are in the offing at KGUN as well. The station will part ways with weekend sports anchor Ben Arnet in July, and the search continues for a permanent weekend news anchor.
THE DEMARCO DEBACLEAn indication of radio's true craziness is not always on display with paid talent, but through brokered programming (i.e., shows during airtime purchased by the host). This is where vanity comes into play for those in other professions who often get suckered into believing there's some mystique to being behind the microphone.
AM radio tends to be home base for many of these programs--hence the collection of realty, computer and self-help-based local offerings during the weekends.
And then there's DeMarco.
During two different periods on the Jolt, DeMarco was Tucson's radio train wreck, often incomprehensible, yet next to impossible to turn off. DeMarco recently wrapped up his second stormy stint with KJLL AM 1330. The first concluded in 2002 shortly after a misunderstanding with station management over a live remote broadcast at Miller's Surplus.
After taking the show to Orlando and Phoenix, DeMarco made a return to the Jolt earlier this year, where he brokered a Saturday late-night slot. However, DeMarco says he was immediately placed on probation by the station because of his less-than-amicable departure four years ago.
While the Jolt has moved in the direction of an edgy talk capacity, especially with the addition of Mancow, DeMarco was apparently too racy for then-General Manager Jerry Misner, who, according to DeMarco, had it out for him well before the controversy that ultimately brought an end to his show.
While in Florida, DeMarco says, he geared the weekend show toward winding down and partying. This was the tone he brought to Tucson for his Jolt weekend reincarnation.
"On Saturday night, nobody wants to talk politics; nobody wants to talk religion," DeMarco said. "What they want to know is: Where are the hot spots in Tucson? Everyone wants to know where to go."
DeMarco is pleased to provide said information--often in a graphic, off-color fashion.
But it was a political and religious comment that got DeMarco in hot water. Or more accurately, it was a comment by co-host Chuck Aubrey that led to the drop of the ax.
"In the beginning of the show, someone called and had something against Chuck," DeMarco said. "He was talking about Iran and how we should be scared and stuff, and Chuck was talking smack with him. The guy waited on the phone the whole time until Chuck slipped or said something, so that boom, he could get Chuck. He was waiting for any little thing."
And that little thing occurred in the form of a Bobcat Goldthwait comedy routine, borrowed by Aubrey.
Aubrey recalls: "(DeMarco) mentioned Catholic priests and how they needed an outlet since they aren't allowed to marry, and I said the problem is they keep taking their outlet on little kids. Then I said: Why is it that pedophile priests keep getting away? Why is it the Church keeps transferring them? I was late three days at McDonald's, and they fired me. I guess I should have said I was ass-raping an 8-year-old. OK, go back and work the fryer."
That led to a miniscule protest outside the Jolt studios the following Monday, and DeMarco's dismissal, via e-mail, from Misner, who, according to DeMarco, said the comment was "over the top."
"I've made off-color priest and rabbi jokes, and nobody has reacted," DeMarco said. "I was talking with Chuck, and we were giving an example. You could tell it was an analogy."
DeMarco says he has met with Phoenix radio stations and hopes to move the show to the Valley in the near future.
Aubrey remains employed at the Jolt and hosts his conspiracy-geared show, Gnosis or Psychosis, Friday at 11 p.m.