Media Watch

Over-the-air TV just got Gritty

There's been a bit of movement and some additions to Tucson's over-the-air alternative television programming lineup. KOLD, which has had surprising success through MeTV, which broadcasts for antenna viewers on channel 13.2, has added GRIT TV to 13.3.

GRIT is an action driven network that features its share of westerns, John Wayne fare and more recent flicks with name actors lost in the shuffle over time. In other words, other stuff it could acquire on the cheap. Although cheap doesn't always mean it's bad.

While cable and satellite has banked on success through the sheer volume of available channels, someone discovered there was an audience for classic television and movie fare for folks who didn't want to bother with the additional cost that comes with the cord. As a result, networks such as MeTV (on KOLD 13.2), Antenna TV (on KGUN 9.2) and COZI TV (on KVOA 4.2) have generated larger than anticipated audiences, and opened the market for increasing options.

GRIT is not the only local addition. KGUN has picked up THIS TV on 9.3. THIS once had a home in Tucson, but was pulled from the KMSB TV 11 lineup a year or so ago as the result of a national ownership dispute. In its place, MOVIES occupied KMSB's piggyback spot at 11.2, and THIS was jettisoned from the market. That is, until KGUN added it to the lineup.

Other viewing options include ION, which broadcasts more modern syndicated fare on channel 40.3 and GetTV, which piggybacks on KUVE's Univision feed at 46.3.

Pre and postgame show undergoes changes, station opts for name change

Sports radio format KCUB 1290 AM has adjusted the local portion of its pre and postgame broadcast lineup. Mike Luke is now hosting the three-hour pregame block and two-hour postgame show. He replaces Anthony Gimino, who has transitioned to an analyst capacity alongside former UA football and basketball player Kelvin Eafon.

The move marks the latest promotion in what has been a rather meteoric rise for Luke at 1290. He was a part-time producer less than a year ago, but once he was able to break through on the air, Luke illustrated an almost savant-like knowledge of the UA men's basketball program, which he showcased as Kevin Woodman's co-host during the sportstalk format's local 3-6 weekday product.

Luke's performance gave The Powers That Be enough confidence in his abilities that Luke is controlling the flow for UA men's basketball pre and post, which encompasses a three hour block of programming before every UA game and roughly two hours of postgame commentary.

Further, the addition of Luke helps to complement the abilities of Gimino, one of the more respected and knowledgeable sports reporters in the market. Steve Rivera continues to provide contributions and commentary when circumstances dictate.

On another note, 1290 has dropped "The Source" from its marketing material, opting instead for the simplified and clear-cut "Sports Radio 1290" in its place. "The Source" tagline dates to the station's long forgotten foray into a hybrid news/sports format.

When the station wrested the UA sports contract from KNST over a decade ago, management wanted to implement a programming model not unlike KNST's, thus hoping to capitalize on the perceived benefits of a newstalk format while collecting from UA advertisers who made up what amounted to be the bulk of the budget.

In the late '90s and early 2000s, at the tail end of the UA's long-running contract with KNST, the UA and sports in general accounted for about two percent of the station's on-air programming, and nearly half its overall budget.

Management at 1290 liked the idea of trying to implement a similar model when they got the contract. Unfortunately, they didn't have Rush Limbaugh to anchor their political talk. As a result, the concept for being "The Source," in essence "your source for news, sports and talk," never gained traction and was scrapped within two years.

However, for some reason "The Source" lived on, most likely because the cluster didn't give a crap and didn't want to be bothered changing its limited commitment to marketing in the first place. "Sports Radio 1290" seems to make sense, since well, 1290 is a sports radio format.

Mullet, Helton added to Lotus roster

Lotus Broadcasting, which operates KLPX 96.1 FM and KFMA 102.1 FM, has brought radio veterans Mullet and Tony Helton to the fold.

Helton is handling a variety of duties, from on-air traffic reports as part of Lotus' in-house effort to provide morning and drive-time updates, to air shifts with both stations when needed.

"After 17 years, I have finally gotten my shot at being on-air," said Helton on facebook. "I'll be in studio as well as doing some traffic reports on KLPX and KFMA during the week. KLPX is a station I listen to regularly and music I draw inspiration from with my own music so I think it's a great fit."

Mullet, meanwhile, is the ideal fit for classic rocker KLPX, and is a personality onto himself. Sure, it helps that he handled on-air duties for classic rocker KHYT 107.5 FM prior to its format change to classic hits a few years ago, but his name and mane made him a fan favorite when he transitioned to the promotions department. It's not particularly common to have someone in promotions as an attraction, but the mere mention of "Mullet" in the field would bring butts to every remote for which he participated. He was often a bigger draw than the talent. Now at Lotus, he's in a talent position again.

"I'm really excited," said Mullet, real name Anthony Bernardini. "They're glad to have me there, and I really appreciate that and am really happy. It makes a guy feel good that you're wanted, and I won't disappoint them."

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