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CHUCK GEORGE TAKES LEAVE AFTER ODD ON-AIR SEGMENT

Meteorologist Chuck George is taking his second leave of absence from KOLD Channel 13 within the last 18 months, station general manager Debbie Bush announced Friday, Sept. 9.

George struggled during a weather report on the Tuesday, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. newscast. He spoke in a slow, slurred manner and rambled a bit about a hurricane developing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Anchors Heather Rowe and Dan Marries later covered for him during the newscast's weather segment, and he was not onscreen during the news wrap, which usually includes some time devoted to the weather.

That was the last time George was on the air prior to the leave-of-absence announcement, which came three days later.

George did not return a phone call from the Tucson Weekly.

In response to his first leave of absence, in March and April of 2010—and an increasing amount of questions related to the length of his disappearance from the airwaves—station news director Michelle Germano then said, "He has taken some time off to handle some family matters. He is planning on being back really soon."

The most recent incident marked at least the third time that George has visibly struggled with a weather report since returning from that five-week hiatus in the spring of 2010.

Erin Jordan filled in for George last week, leaving KOLD's morning news program without a weather presence since fellow meteorologist Aaron Pickering was on vacation.


KCMT, KQTH AMONG BIG WINNERS IN RADIO RATINGS

Strong performances by Spanish-language KCMT FM 102.1 FM and news/talker KQTH FM 104.1 (aka "The Truth") highlighted Arbitron's spring radio-ratings book for Tucson.

The general rule is that three stations—Citadel-owned (soon to be Cumulus-owned) country station KIIM FM 99.5, Journal's adult-contemporary KMXZ FM 94.9 (aka MIXfm) and Clear Channel Top 40 entry KRQQ FM 93.7—always control the top three spots in the market, and alternate in terms of overall numbers depending on fluctuations in the ratings process or other general whims.

That was the case in the spring book as well. KIIM returned to the top spot among listeners 12 and older, supplanting KRQQ, which had spent two books at No. 1.

While one ratings period does not a pattern make, the real story was the showing delivered by Lotus-owned regional-Mexican-music entry KCMT, which landed a station-record 7.0 share—just 1.3 points behind third-place KRQQ.

KCMT also saw a significant separation from the rest of the market's second tier: The difference between fourth and fifth was 2.1 share points. Once-struggling classic-hits format KHYT FM 107.5 delivered a solid 4.9 at No. 5.

KCMT's first summer "trend" (a month-to-month look at ratings prior to the end of the three-month ratings period) number dipped to 6.3, so it remains to be seen whether the rating was a glitch or an indication of a true, significant market move. At the very least, KCMT is the clear market leader among Spanish-language stations.

The other occurrence of note: The battle between for-profit news/talk formats may have finally swung in KQTH's direction. The FM talker got a better overall number than KNST AM 790, the market's longtime news/talk leader: The Truth registered a 3.3 to KNST's 2.9. KNST had relied on huge advantages in older demographics to hold on to its overall top position among the competitors, while KQTH has been controlling key advertising demographics (read: younger audiences) for some time.

KQTH maintained a slight—2.9 to 2.7—advantage over KNST in the first summer trend.

Both stations get consistently clubbed by NPR affiliate KUAZ FM 89.1/AM 1550, but the publically funded station is not part of the Arbitron rating process.


NEW NEWS FACES ARRIVE IN TUCSON

KVOA Channel 4 and KGUN Channel 9 have added to their respective news lineups.

KVOA went in-house—but out of town—to select Danielle Lerner as its new morning news co-host alongside Brandon Gunnoe. Lerner, who will start her Tucson Today duties within the next couple of weeks, makes the journey from KSBY in San Luis Obispo, Calif., a station that is also owned by KVOA parent company Cordillera Communications.

Lerner replaces the reassigned Lorraine Rivera.

Lerner graduated from Northwestern University and had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C. She also interned briefly in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, KGUN has added a pair of reporters: Kevin Keen and Stefani Ruiz. Keen arrives from the ABC affiliate in Eau Claire, Wis. The University of Minnesota grad will report during the station's evening newscasts. Ruiz, a graduate of the University of Nebraska with experience in Mexico, is slated to handle morning and noon reporting duties.


MOUNTAIN OF MIRACLES 2011 EFFORT TOPS $200K

Last month's Mountain of Miracles radio-thon hosted by the KWMT FM 92.9 morning team of Jennie Grabel and Chris Patyk raised more than $200,000 for the Tucson Medical Center's Children's Miracle Network program during the annual three-day fundraiser.

The final tally of $207,811 pushed the series of Mountain of Miracles radio-thons over the $2 million threshold. The $2,083,893 has helped purchase equipment such as ventilators and monitors for the intensive-care nursery, chair beds for parents to stay overnight, and isolettes for transporting ill newborns, among other items. Funds from the radio-thon have also gone to wellness programs and health services for children at Tucson Medical Center.

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