Media Watch


In the wake of the bizarre upheaval at KJLL AM 1330, aka the Jolt, last June, John C. Scott was faced with a very real, uncertain scenario: Could he find another home in the Tucson radio world?

During a career in this market that has spanned more than 20 years, Scott has survived format changes, cluster consolidations and management whims as he's hosted the city's pre-eminent local and state-focused political talk show.

But there aren't many stations on the AM band willing to open a spot for his brokered program. Cluster-owned stations like KNST AM 790 and KQTH FM 104.1 pay their hosts a salary, whereas Scott buys the air time and sells ads—and when he was forced out at KJLL, that limited the options for the 68-year-old.

Fortunately, the other station in the market that embraces the brokered approach for weekday programming, KVOI AM 1030, came to terms with Scott last week. He was slated to return the air during the afternoon drive on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

"Part of what made up my mind is talking with friends," said Good News Radio general manager Doug Martin, head of the organization that operates KVOI. "One person I talked with said, 'I don't always agree with John, but he needs to be on the air.' There is something special about someone who's been on the air for 25 or 26 years. He's seen a lot; he's done a lot. I'm glad that we can have him as part of our station."

This marks Scott's second stint at KVOI. He left the first time when KJLL offered him the general-manager position.

"It took a little while to get back on the air, but they have some good local talk," said Scott about a lineup that includes Chris DeSimone and Joe Higgins, Jim Parisi and Bill Buckmaster. "When I was there before, in 2008, they were at the old 690 (AM signal), and now (they're at) 1030, where the signal is much better. The coverage through the area is significantly improved, and I'm excited about that. The Jolt (KJLL) had a terrible time getting into Oro Valley and Marana. You lose about a third of the market."

Scott's nomadic career has also featured a series of philosophical modifications, raging from hard-line conservative days at KTUC AM 1400 in the 1990s, to the liberal bent that his show took to meld with KJLL's progressive format. Now he's returning to a lineup at KVOI that's self-described as center/right.

"It's very easy, with John on different stations, to lean one way or the other," Martin said. "The radio business is also an entertainment business, and a lot of these guys on the air, be it Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Michael Savage, they're really more entertainers than anything else. (KQTH morning host) Jon Justice used to be part of a morning show on KFMA. He comes from an entertainment background. A lot of it is based on hype and pushing the limits, which can feed ratings, but I'm not sure it's good in terms of radio and good in terms of listenership. It's better to let the listeners get balance, and if it is conservative, let's be intelligent and not a flamethrower. If it is liberal, let's not sensationalize things to play to the base. Bill (Buckmaster) brings that (balance) to us, and John told us that's where he wants to be. He played the game over there (at the Jolt) because it was more left-leaning, and he's played the game in the past, being on a station like ours, but now he wants to do something that's more about the truth and more balanced."

Scott's show, which airs from 4 to 5 p.m. weekdays, will maintain a good portion of his familiar format, and will be loaded with conversations from political players. He also hopes to take the show on the road again.

"We'll bring a new dimension, and go back to Washington (D.C), go up to Phoenix again, and Mexico for the Mexican elections, and probably (do) a whole week in Mexico to focus on the drug cartels," Scott said. "It's a matter of getting it sold, covering costs and making some money off of it. I don't want to stop doing that. We did Israel three times, China and Vietnam. I want to go back to some of the international stuff."

Regardless of station, continent or political approach, Scott's list of loyal advertisers remains supportive.

"The people who were with us are back. It's a base of companies and businesses that always stayed with me, whether it was at KTUC, KTKT, the Jolt or KVOI," Scott said. "There are people who think the show has value and has done well enough that they want to support it. It makes business sense to them. I've always been flattered by that. I've never been under the illusion that we were so good that we could keep coming back, but I've learned the reality that people will always buy it. 'Can you market it? Can you sell it?' That's the bottom line in broadcasting: Can you make money for yourself or somebody else? And we've always been able to do that. I think the content is one of the reasons for the longevity, but the sponsor support is probably equal to that."


CBS affiliate KOLD Channel 13 has decided to stay in-house to fill the anchor requirements of the station's 4 p.m. news endeavor that it is launching to replace the years of ratings dominance that it enjoyed thanks to Oprah.

Scott Kilbury and Heather Rowe will anchor the hour-long newscast. For Kilbury, it means he'll have to work a split shift, since he also co-hosts the station's morning-news block.

Rowe will still anchor the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts; however, her transition to 4 means Teresa Jun will step in with Dan Marries weekdays at 5. Marries will continue to anchor alongside Rowe at 6 and 10.

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