Media Watch

Bill White leaves KQTH morning news, Rapp to step in

Bill White's tenure as program director for news/talk format KQTH 104.1 FM was short lived. White accepted a position with a radio station in Sacramento, bringing to a close a 17-month stopover in Tucson.

But while short, it was eventful. In a market and business where stagnancy is surprisingly common, KQTH underwent its share of tweaks. From a branding standpoint, the station changed its moniker from "The Truth" to "Tucson's News and Talk," an effort to give it more wide ranging appeal while coming off as less militant, whereas some suggested "The Truth" pigeonholed the station as an outlet only for Tea Party types.

The station also added a local news wheel in the morning and moved morning host Jon Justice to mid-days from 8:30 a.m. to noon, which gave KQTH additional local presence.

With White's departure, there was some uncertainty about what the immediate future of the station might hold, but with its latest ratings numbers a significant jump in a number of key areas, for now the changeover will be pretty clean cut.

Radio veteran Mike Rapp, who has been White's go-to replacement, will step in and continue hosting the morning news update segment for the foreseeable future. From there, the rest of the KQTH lineup remains the same. There is no timetable on the program director replacement, and with the station awaiting the transition from Journal Broadcast Group ownership to Scripps, expected to take hold by spring, it's hard telling whether finding White's successor for the management responsibilities related to the position will be an immediate priority.

KQTH has endured some rapid changeover at PD since Andrew Lee departed three years ago. Lee was replaced by Ryan McCredden, a fast-tracker who barely landed in Tucson before shipping his belongings to a station in Houston. White replaced McCredden, and lasted about as long.

It probably helped that KQTH benefited from a strong fall 2014 ratings book, where a number of key demos experienced significant boosts. How much of that was due to format tweaks, and how much of that was related to the midterm elections, historically a good period for news/talk formats (competitor and market leader KNST AM 790 had improved numbers as well) remains to be seen.

Elsewhere in radio numbers

IHeartMedia, formerly Clear Channel, was probably pleased there was a midterm election cycle, since KNST is the only station in its cluster with an improved performance. Cluster lynchpin KRQQ 93.7 FM still managed a third place overall finish among listeners 12-plus, but had its worst overall showing in a year. The same trend befelled hip-hop format KOHT 98.3 FM, and so-called hot AC format KMIY 92.9 FM garnered the award for station with the lowest ratings among those with the strongest signal when it jettisoned roughly 25 percent of its listening numbers. If it thought the numbers were bad during its tenure as "The Mountain," the KMIY reincarnation has never taken hold, and in many regards even eroded the cluster's strategy of attempting to use the similarity of its music formats to attract a block of listeners from specific demographics.

Other than KNST, which experienced a hefty bump, only AM Spanish language format KTZR showed any uptick for the IHeart cluster. If anyone actually worked in that building any longer, they'd be IHating fall 2014.

Overall, music radio didn't fare well at all. Only Lotus-owned alternative format KFMA 102.1 FM enjoyed an improvement in overall numbers.

Despite experiencing a full share drop from the last ratings window, Cumulus owned country music format KIIM FM 99.5 remained the market's top rated station.

Oehler got some national love

Sports radio fans probably remember Jody Oehler, the Tucson talent who worked for KFFN AM 1490/FM 104.9 for eight years prior to his move to afternoon drives for the Fox Sports affiliate, 910 AM in Phoenix.

Well, that show, The Drive, co-hosted by Oehler and Mike Jurecki, got a nice feather in the proverbial cap over the holidays. Oehler and Jurecki were asked to fill in for the Rich Eisen Show, nationally syndicated in roughly 150 markets, including Tucson, where it airs weekdays from 10-noon on KEVT 1210 AM.

KGUN news and programming hires

Maria Parmigiani has left her position as co-host of KGUN's Morning Blend. The entertainment/infotainment/interview program, which airs on KGUN TV 9 weekday mornings at 11, is in the market for a replacement.

Meanwhile, two reporters have been added on the news side. Jennifer Delacruz and Whitney Clark have been nabbed for roles with the ABC affiliate. Delacruz has been added in a reporter capacity; Clark in the hybrid role of reporter/anchor.

KVOA and DirecTV come to terms

After enduring 10 days of predictable name-calling and marketing efforts centered around begging viewers to unite against the evils of the other side, local NBC affiliate KVOA and satellite provider DirecTV reached a contract agreement, thus ending a week-and-a-half of blocked coverage.

While the programming variety featuring the DirecTV message that the station had decided to pull its content was pretty redundant, the generic background music wasn't so bad. Given the popularity of much of NBC's syndicated prime-time fare, the plain graphic might have gotten more eyes.

For its part, KVOA announced the decision during the first half of the NFL playoff game between Baltimore and New England. In its referendum to viewers watching via other platforms that service would be returned to DirecTV momentarily, the KVOA scroll proclaimed "... the two comapanies agreed to terms last night."

Whether that was simply the latest in an endless array of misspellings among the graphics department in local news or an acceptance that in many regards local TV is on life support is uncertain.

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