Media Watch

The Mountain Takes Advantage of 104.1 Format Change

When Journal Broadcast Group-owned KZPT FM 104.1 moved to talk at the expense of its floundering modern-hits music format, the decision to jettison on-air staff opened the door for Clear Channel-owned KWMT FM 92.9 The Mountain to add to its talent roster, highlighted by the addition of local music fixture Cathy Rivers.

"We're ecstatic that she's here. She sounds amazing," said Clear Channel Tucson operations manager Tim Richards. "She fits the station. She kicks ass. Sheila Kay came here as well."

Of The Mountain's six DJs, four are women. Clear Channel also made a play for Suzie Dunn, another familiar voice in the market during her days with KFMA FM 92.1, but the effort didn't work.

"She's a park ranger in Catalina State Park. God bless her," Richards said. "She's really happy. We finally brought her back in to convince her to give it a shot ... and (she) decided it just wasn't the right fit for her. ... We love her, and if she decided tomorrow to come back and do some stuff with us, we'd absolutely love to talk to her about it."


The Mountain places a strong emphasis on environmental issues, which made it all the more curious that the station ran an ad for a fireworks outfit in New Mexico during much of the last month.

It's not uncommon for companies to peddle products not approved in a specific jurisdiction, but the fact that the Tucson area is dealing with a long-standing drought and extreme wildfire danger--not to mention the environmentally sound message The Mountain likes to profess--made the ad an odd fit.

"It was a national buy," Richards said. "When we launched this radio station, we pulled advertisements that sold guns and things like that, because we wanted the station to portray a particular image in the community. I can see how one would question this."

Richards does not approve the content of every ad on every one of the Tucson Clear Channel stations, although measures are supposed to be in place to red-flag clients that sell merchandise that might be questionable.

It seems unlikely fireworks and The Mountain will mix again.

"The food chain is aware of this now," Richards said.


It's like getting a new car simply because you're tired of seeing the old one every day. It's not that the old car was bad; it was just time for a change.

For local television news, a change of that nature manifests itself in the form of a new graphics package.

KVOA Channel 4 unveiled a new look during its high-definition upgrade in late April, and most recently, KOLD Channel 13 upgraded just in time for the July book.

"It's just a refreshing of our current package that's about 3 years old," said KOLD general manager Jim Arnold. "... What we prefer to do is not something that's overly dramatic and different. The last time, we went through a major upgrade. This time, we think we have a great-looking package that's even better looking now."

For the market's top-rated news station, the process of upgrading graphics is made easier by the fact that the head of the Raycom graphics division works down the hall.

"We have the advantage that the Raycom Design Group is headquartered in our building. We have guys who design for all the Raycom stations," Arnold said. "There are about four or five basic design packages that are put together every year. They are individually tweaked and adapted to individual stations. We're very fortunate. The guy who runs it is in our building. The work he does for us, he actually sees at his house."

The graphics upgrade, unveiled in late June, remains something of a work in progress.

"We probably went through six or seven preliminary versions," Arnold said. "We'll come back and do some later tweaks. The weather graphics are the most dramatic change."

In other news at KOLD, the CBS affiliate added Dave Cooney to the sports desk. Cooney is the part-time replacement for Laurence Scott.

"Dave was an anchor in Laughlin, Nev, and wanted to do sports in a bigger market," Arnold said. "He took the part-time position here to get his foot in the door."


KMSB Channel 11 sports director Vinnie Vinzetta has agreed to a contract extension with the local Fox affiliate.

"It's a really good opportunity, and I'm really pleased with the progress we've made with our extra coverage and our Sunday efforts and the analysts we've cultivated," Vinzetta said. "I think it's going to be nothing but proactive and positive.

KMSB has cultivated a nice niche in the market with its emphasis on sports, but the flip side is that Vinzetta and assistant Brandon Nash probably work more than any other television sportscaster in the market.

"It can be a tough career. It's tough on family and relationships and weekends and holidays, but you put that aside, because you're about the business and the things that go into it," Vinzetta said. "I always have that fallback that I get paid to go to games. Can it be that bad? It's a pretty good lifestyle."

Vinzetta signed a three-year deal with a series of out options after year two. He hopes to continue to build his product; KMSB already covers more local sporting events than its counterparts, but the plum is the Sunday Sports Force, a 25- to 45-minute sports recap that follows the Sunday 9 p.m. newscast. Former UA football coach Larry Smith, former UA basketball player and current Fox TV basketball analyst Bob Elliott, former UA baseball coach Jerry Kindall and various members of the media are regular participants. That type of programming may expand in the near future.

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