REMEMBERING DAN BABICH
Longtime Tucson radio personality Dan Babich, who died in December at the age of 75, was the host of The International Hour. The program aired on stations such as KXCI FM 91.3, the former KMRR FM 100.3, and most recently on KSAZ AM 580 prior to that signal's format change to Spanish inspirational.
"He specialized in doing music from around the world," said Bernard Rabinovitz, who sent the Tucson Weekly a letter in remembrance of his late friend. "My wife did the radio show with him on KSAZ and KXCI. He was very well-liked. He did a lot of work for the community. He was probably the only person on Tucson radio who had a show of that nature."
In the 1980s, Babich earned the title of "Tucson's Radio Hero" in a contest that pitted him against other personalities in the market, Rabinovitz said.
"That's when radio was more community-driven," Rabinovitz said. "He won against every other disc jockey in Tucson. He just wanted to recognize the roots of the people who lived here, and tried to communicate with them, and did an excellent job.
"I just thought he did so much for this community. He was very well-known. There were a lot of people who followed his show and enjoyed it and went to the events he had. There were a lot of people with a variety of backgrounds in Tucson who liked to listen to music from around the world."
BARNETT OUT AT KLPX, PERHAPS BECAUSE HIS NAME IS TOO NORMAL
Scott Barnett, who went from morning-show host to afternoon host, is now no host at all at KLPX FM 96.1. The classic-rock station relieved Barnett of his duties a couple of weeks ago.
Efforts to reach Barnett for comment failed, although his Facebook page notes that he was formerly employed by the Lotus-owned station.
KLPX general manager Steve Groesbeck had no comment on the situation, but word inside the building is that the decision was based solely on ratings.
Barnett was formerly part of the KLPX morning show alongside Adrienne Mackey. Both were reassigned in 2010 in favor of Frank Brinsley, host of The Frank Show, after Lotus decided to move him from his popular slot on alternative format KFMA FM 92.1 to KLPX—and its stronger signal and market impact. Barnett then moved to the afternoon-drive shift.
In the interim, Barnett has been replaced by weekend voice DJ Razor. Hey, they could have replaced him with Sharq or Rage. Really. That's how these on-air personalities are listed on the KLPX website. Maybe Barnett was bounced because he used a relatively normal name on the air. How was that going to play in the midst of such obvious intensified adrenaline?
And why Sharq with a Q? Because it's qool, I guess—even though it's radio, and nobody is going to know it's spelled with a Q. Unless it's really a two-syllable name, and he's known as Shar-cue.
I've come to expect this sort of absurdity at Clear Channel, which has a "weekendz" lineup on hip-hop format KOHT FM 98.3 FM that features the likes of Jay Dez, Prolifik and McHater. And look how the single-name epidemic has infected KMIY FM 92.9, where you get piped-in voice-track talent from the likes of Valentine, Melissa and Ashton.
But Razor, Sharq and Rage, all on one station? If that doesn't get me tuning in, hoping to catch the documented 458,387th playing of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," I'm not sure what will.
There was a time when adopting a fake radio name was much simpler. If you didn't think your last name was a good on-air name, you just used your middle name as your last name, perhaps with a slight tweak. So, if you hear someone with two first names (let's go random-name generator here), like, say, David Stevens, chances are Stevens isn't his real last name.
Same thing if the DJ's name sounds like an animal: Trixie Lyons, for instance. Probably not real. At KLPX, we have program director and midday talent Larry Mac. Now that's an old-school fake radio name. But Razor, Sharq and Rage? That's either a bad comedy trio, or the dawn of a major name-change approach in the radio landscape.
Sorry. I got a bit sidetracked there. Razor, Sharq and Rage. I love that.
Did I happen to mention that Scott Barnett is no longer working for KLPX?
A TWEAK TO THE HISPANIC-ANCHOR NOTATION
Last week, I mentioned the relative lack of Hispanic news anchors in the Tucson market after several high-profile resignations and reassignments.
KOLD Channel 13 news director Michelle Germano brought it to my attention that Chris Holmstrom, who does weekend anchor work at KOLD and KMSB Channel 11 as part of the Belo and Raycom shared-services agreement, has Hispanic roots.
Holmstrom was featured in an edition of the bilingual newspaper tu Decides discussing his upbringing with a military father and Panamanian mother.
"I was always the minority as the kid that was half-white and half-Hispanic," Holmstrom said in the article. "Once I got older, I was able to appreciate both of my cultures and being proud of my heritage and background. People tend to be surprised when they see my last name and then see me. They don't know what I am. Especially with my last name, some people have said, 'You don't look Swedish.'"
KVOA MAKES CHANGES TO MORNING NEWS SHOW
KVOA Channel 4 has added Samantha Ptashkin and Nichole Szemerei to roles on the station's Tucson Today newscast, which airs weekdays from 5 to 7 a.m.
Ptashkin will act as the anchor on the Tucson Today breaking-news desk.
Szemerei and Larissa Wohl are switching roles. Szemerei will occupy the traffic-anchor slot, while Wohl has been assigned to field-reporter responsibilities.