Media Watch


Debbie Wagner will again handle the day-to-day operations of Clear Channel's radio cluster in Tucson. Wagner has spent two stints in the Old Pueblo already. She was in the cluster's top chair in the late '90s and again from 2003 to 2009.

From there, Wagner was briefly transferred to Clear Channel's San Diego cluster.

Her '09 departure in Tucson was the start of a revolving door for the local GM position, much of which likely has to do with two connected factors: the company's restructuring philosophy, which put more emphasis on a regional model of managing; and a near abandonment of local talent in markets like Tucson in favor of voice track and syndicated programming for everything from morning shows to traffic and news.

Wagner was the GM when Clear Channel announced massive layoffs in January 2009. That move cost about 20 employees their jobs in the company's radio and billboard operation. The building at Fort Lowell and Oracle roads has had lots of empty kiosks and studio space ever since.

While familiar top-40 station KRQQ 93.7 FM, hip-hop format KOHT 98.3 FM and news/talk station KNST 790 AM are delivering reasonable numbers—KRQ was tied with Cumulus-owned KIIM 99.5 FM as the market's top station in the last ratings period—Wagner is still faced with underperforming signals.

The most noteworthy is KMIY 92.9 FM. The so-called My 92.9 has failed to resonate with listeners and continues to be the worst-performing 100,000-watt signal in the market.

Its inoffensive comfort food/milquetoast hit music format appears to be part of a Clear Channel strategy to attract as many listeners from the 16-34 demographic as possible. For Clear Channel, it's not about great ratings per station—as 92.9's performance would attest—but attempting to corner a popular demographic among advertisers.

Or at least that seems to be the line of thinking, since any efforts to make it a viable stand-alone listening option have largely been met with a thud.

Clear Channel has been equally confusing with low-power FM signal 97.1. A couple of years ago, the cluster made what appeared to be a wise move when it decided to syndicate KNST on the FM band, an approach that has brought additional success to news/talk stations across the country. But it abandoned that experiment about six months later, opting instead for Wild Country, which has predictably been lambasted by KIIM.


Mark Duggan's five-plus-year stint with Arizona Public Media came to an end last week. Duggan handled news reports on the radio side of the operation for the organization's NPR affiliate.


KGUN Channel 9 has started providing live streaming of local programming at Most of the local content, of course, focuses on the station's news product. The streaming feed can be accessed by clicking the Watch Live icon on the website's front page. When local content isn't airing, the feed replays recent locally produced newscasts along with the advertising-heavy, human-interest program The Morning Blend.


I have a confession to make. I can be something of a media hoarder. I have a list of possible future Media Watch story ideas and notes that takes up about five columns worth of space. These are the evergreen pieces that can be used in weeks when there isn't that much going on, or when I'm just a bit short on the space I need to fill.

I've been hoarding the following item for months. So long, in fact, that the info related to its origin has changed.

About a year ago, while flipping through the progressively deteriorating, and thus increasingly pixilated, TV signals available on over-the-air antenna, I noticed that KVOA Channel 4 was running test bars on 4.2, the signal that piggybacks KVOA's main feed on Channel 4.1.

Being a curious sort, and recognizing that KVOA was the only station in the market not doing anything with its additional feeds, I sent a note to the folks at the station asking what the deal was with the test bars. They didn't get back to me on this pressing issue, so I was unable to crack the code of their master plan.

As a result, I concocted what I considered a nice, snarky punch line. KVOA, attempting to copy the success of KOLD's MeTV and KGUN's affiliation with Antenna TV, would also hearken back to the golden days of television by showing test bars, only they'd take it to the extreme and broadcast the test pattern for 24 hours. Toss a little national anthem in there and it would be like watching a station sign off all day long, minus the impending static when the signal went dark.

Then, after months of running test bars, but before I got around to mentioning it was running test bars, KVOA actually did something with the signal.

That something is Cozi TV, which, like competitors MeTV and Antenna TV—and to some degree KMSB's offering of THIS TV—fills its lineup with television classics and older films. The slate includes Charlie's Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Virginian and I Spy.

Additionally, Cozi just wrapped up a monthlong Alfred Hitchcock film retrospective.

So if you're duly inclined and want to enjoy TV's past, MeTV, Antenna and Cozi give you access to a good portion of about two decades of golden era prime-time fare. Screw The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow and The Voice. Give me Banacek, McMillan and Wife and Marcus Welby, M.D. If one of these stations would just get around to Harry O, Petrocelli, B.J. and the Bear and Matt Houston, I'd be all in.

Tucson has been a good market for these alternative stations. And while I might prefer a test pattern to Lassie and Highway to Heaven, I suspect the Cozi addition will be good news for KVOA as well.

Comments (5)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly