Even though she hosted KMSB Channel 11's 9 p.m. Tucson newscast, it wasn't a secret that news anchor Heather Moore read the teleprompter from Phoenix.
There are good and bad elements to KMSB's news relationship with fellow Belo station KTVK, based in the Valley. The good: The local Fox affiliate gets a larger-market personality on the anchor desk, for a fraction of the cost. The bad: KMSB has to deal with the consequences when the Phoenix station decides to lower the boom.
And that's exactly what happened last month, when Moore was part of a significant Belo downsizing.
"It's part of the business," said Belo Tucson general manager Tod A. Smith. "Decisions are made, and discussions are held ... What we try to do (in Tucson) is create a news department and two television stations (Belo also owns KTTU Channel 8) that aren't necessarily based on the success or failure of one personality more than it is the stations and its product line in total."
In this case, Tucson management had no problem with the talent, and the talent had no desire to leave. Yet because the Phoenix station, which paid the bulk of Moore's salary for her duties in the Valley--highlighted by her work on KTVK's now-defunct 8 p.m. newscast--decided to make a change, KMSB finds itself in the position of moving with another anchor.
Those familiar with the Fox product have not been too jolted, since Beverly Kidd and Kirsten Joyce, the two anchors who have stepped in since Moore's ouster, have handled the news-reading duties on numerous occasions in the past.
As it stands, the components of Fox's 9 p.m. offering remain the same. Deanna Morgan and Delane Cleveland file news reports from Tucson, and Vinnie Vinzetta and Brandon Nash tackle local sports. News-anchoring and weather remain broadcast from Phoenix. And what's in store for the future?
"There are some things we're working on, but at this point, it would be premature for me to comment," Smith said.
Country-music leader KIIM FM 99.5 took the top spot in the winter 2008 radio ratings, and many of the other stations in the Citadel cluster turned in improved performances.
Tucson radio has seen a three-horse race for the No. 1 slot for some time, with KIIM and Journal Broadcast Group-owned adult contemporary format KMXZ FM 94.9 jockeying for the front with the most consistency. While KIIM checked in with a fairly steady 8.9 share for the overall 12-and-older audience, KMXZ (MIXfm) plummeted nearly two points from its market-leading 9.5 in the previous book, and fell to third overall. Its 7.8 rating is the station's worst showing in well more than a year.
Meanwhile, Clear Channel-operated Top 40 station KRQQ FM 93.7 continues its surge. It moved into second with a 12-plus number of 8.3.
There's a significant drop-off past the big three. Clear Channel rhythmic format KOHT FM 98.3 earned the No. 4 spot with a rating of 5.5, its best book since last winter's 6.3 effort. Lotus-owned KCMT FM 102.1, with a regional Mexican format branded as La Caliente, placed fifth with a 5.4, but it has lost listener share in four consecutive periods.
KLPX FM 96.1 (Lotus; classic rock; 5.0), KNST AM 790 (Clear Channel; news/talk; 4.5), KHYT FM 107.5 (Citadel; classic hits; 3.9), KFMA FM 92.1 (Lotus; alternative; 3.4) and KTZR FM 97.1 (Clear Channel; Spanish oldies; 3.1) rounded out the Top 10.
Of note is KHYT's jump since its format tweak from classic rock to classic hits. KHYT had a 2.3 in the previous book, although it was at 3.8 in the period prior to that.
KFMA has struggled for two consecutive books. It's more accustomed to numbers higher than a 4 share, but has tallied 3.4 during two straight ratings periods.
KNST's 4.5 is the news/talk and AM band leader's lowest book in well more than a year.
Outside of the Top 10, it wasn't a great book for news/talk as a whole--meaning so far, there's been no election-year bump. The exception was KJLL AM 1330, which delivered its strongest numbers in quite some time, a 1.2 market share, more than double its .5 from the previous book. That 1.2 share for the progressive-format AM talker was better than Journal-owned talk entry KQTH FM 104.1, which delivered a 1.1.
In the adult-standards race, Citadel-owned KTUC AM 1400 bested Slone Broadcasting's KCEE AM 1030, 1.7 to 1.5, while KSAZ AM 580, which has the best signal on the AM dial with its prime band location, registered the worst ratings in the market with a .4 share.
Citadel-owned KCUB AM 1290--my part-time employer--bested Journal-operated KFFN AM 1490 .9 to .5 among the sports formats. That number represents a loss of more than half of KFFN's audience.
KRQQ FM 93.7 morning-show hosts Johnjay and Rich have added Colorado Springs, Colo., to their Clear Channel syndication portfolio. Clear Channel bumped the program from Tucson exclusivity to KZZP in Phoenix, where most of the shows are now based, and they'll see if that success can be as effective at KVUU FM 99.9 in Colorado Springs.
The Tucson Citizen has spent a lot of time trying to enhance the look of the newspaper; one of the major changes, launched more than two years ago, was the incorporation of tabloid-style inserts.
That experiment came to a close a couple of weeks ago when the Gannett-owned afternoon paper retooled its "Plus" sections to look more traditional.
"The changes are designed to return the newspaper to a familiar format and free up staff members whose jobs for the past two years have been principally devoted to producing the magazine sections," said Citizen editor/publisher Michael Chihak in his May 17 column.
Chihak said Gabrielle Fimbres and Polly Higgins have been reassigned to reporter roles, while Body Plus editor Mike Truelsen has a more concentrated focus on the Citizen's Web site.