Media Watch

A Look Back at 2006

A Look Back at 2006

In the media, there are recurring stories I like to call calendar events. When you crack open the newspaper, check your favorite Internet information site (the one without the hot babes) or watch or listen to the television and radio newscasts, these stories will be predictable, like the days on the calendar.

There's a flow to this, regardless of the time of year, but it's probably more noticeable during the holidays. For instance, on Thanksgiving, you can predict features on dinners for the needy. The day after Thanksgiving, count on stories about the first day of the holiday shopping season. And the Postal Service holiday-package-sending-deadline story. And the Winterhaven Festival of Lights story.

You get the idea.

And for New Year's, you'll inevitably get the Year That Was features. Well, since you're being bombarded with 2006 reminiscing, I thought I'd join the gang and chime in with my version.

Indeed, brace yourself for what happened in local media in 2006.

January kicked off with an announcement from The Jolt, KJLL AM 1330, that it was making major changes to its lineup. The big "get" was the addition of the nationally syndicated Mancow in the Morning. The lineup also included syndicated fare by Glenn Beck and Phil Hendrie, and a talk show from Phoenix hosted by Liddy and Hill.

As 2007 approaches, none of those programs are on The Jolt. Mancow was pulled six months later; 1290 AM maneuvered Beck and Hendrie away, just in time for Hendrie to announce his retirement; Liddy and Hill lasted less than two weeks.

The brainchild behind the moves, Jerry Misner, was ousted from his responsibilities at the Jolt midyear.

It was a year of major change at Citadel, the radio conglomerate that operates KIIM FM 99.5, Rock 107.5 (KHYT) and KCUB 1290 AM, The Source. KIIM made a major morning-show change, replacing Betsy Bruce with Shannon Black. Bruce has been reassigned a couple of times since. She handled news and co-hosting responsibilities with Laurence Scott during the short-lived The Shootout afternoon sports-talk show on 1290 and has since moved to mornings on 1290, alongside Mike Rapp, pulled from his morning-show duties at 107.5 when Citadel opted for nationally syndicated morning show duo Opie and Anthony.

Scott hosted The Shootout with KOLD Channel 13 sports personalities Arran Andersen and Scott Kilbury, but Andersen was the first of at least three Tucson television talents to wind up accepting a position in Sacramento, Calif., and eventually, 1290 went in a different direction. Glenn Parker and Dean Greenberg currently host the local afternoon show. Scott handles UA football and basketball pregame responsibilities alongside Brad Allis and me.

Andersen set an exodus in motion at KOLD; the biggest departure was that of Kris Pickel, who ended a nine-year relationship to move closer to family in Sacramento. Shortly thereafter, KOLD fired Randy Garsee. The local CBS affiliate hired Heather Rowe as its female primetime news anchor. Dan Marries appears to have the inside track as Garsee's replacement.

Garsee, Pickel and Andersen weren't the only KOLD departures. Weekend anchor Kaushal Patel jumped to Dallas for a weekday anchor gig, and Erin Christiansen, the station's No. 2 weather personality, accepted a position across town to head up the KGUN Channel 9 weather room. Meanwhile, Jeff James, hired from Salt Lake City as the replacement for long-time KGUN weatherman Paul Huttner, lasted all of six months in the market before joining Andersen and Pickel in Sacramento.

KGUN also made major changes at the top. Ray Depa retired as station general manager. He was replaced by Andrew Stewart.

KMSB Channel 11 hired a new general manager as well. Tod A. Smith returned to Belo, the group that owns the local Fox affiliate, after a brief period of time with an advertising agency in New Orleans. His house was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

KUAT Channel 6 also welcomed a new general manager. Jack Gibson accepted the position with Tucson's PBS affiliate after 15 years at WPBT, which serves Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches.

KXCI FM 91.3 parted ways with General Manager Larry Bruce in March. The search for a replacement continues. Former Citadel General Manager Todd Lawley left the organization to start his own radio company. He recently moved to Fresno, Calif., to manage the group's first property.

Tucson's traffic reports took on an entirely different look in 2006. Allen Kath, a fixture with Westwood One-owned Metro Networks for close to two decades, transitioned to a position as exclusive traffic report provider for the Journal Broadcast Group conglomerate. Meanwhile, Gina Corral accepted a position with Metro in San Diego.

The Arizona Daily Star endured the growing pains of Internet interactivity. The morning paper fired its UA sports volunteer blogger and is considering banning comments accompanying stories that appear online. In the print version, an increase in corrections from the year before led to a one-day suspension policy for any journalist who inaccurately reported a phone number.

This was also the year that the Tucson Citizen unveiled its new format. The afternoon newspaper has suffered dramatic subscription drops since the late '90s, and this was an effort to stem that disturbing trend. The Citizen also had one of the more noteworthy media retirements of the year: Corky Simpson called it quits after 32 years with the Citizen, 30 of them as sports columnist. The Citizen recently released a retrospective book--Corky, 30 Years of Sports Commentary, Heroes, Egos, Gloves, Sweat and Tears--with some of his standout pieces with the newspaper. His final day was Dec. 22.

It was also the day Dan Ryan left KVOA Channel 4. Ryan and Simpson accounted for a half-century of sports coverage in Tucson.

Jim Kiser concluded his versatile 20-year tenure with the Arizona Daily Star.

But it wasn't just a year of departures. After a five-year hiatus, Jim Slone announced his return to the radio game. Slone sold his stations to Citadel in 2001 for $62 million. He recently purchased KCEE AM 1030 for 1/62 of that. His new format goes into effect in mid-January.

But that's a Media Watch for 2007.

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