Media Watch

Lee CEO Schmidt to retire

Lee Enterprises, the Davenport, Iowa publishing chain that owns the Arizona Daily Star, will be in the market for new management at the top by the summer. Carl Schmidt, the company's vice-president, chief financial officer and treasurer, announced his plans to retire by July.

Schmidt joined Lee in 2001, which means he was in the midst of the company's financial meltdown, bankruptcy filing and current efforts at stabilization, not to mention doling out some impressive bonuses for the top brass along the way.

Around the time of Schmidt's retirement announcement, Lee stocked dipped from about $3.50 to under 3 bucks. It ticked up to about $3.15 as of Monday, Jan. 26.

Icahn wants change at Gannett

Meanwhile, financial mover and shaker Carl Icahn, who owns 6.6 percent of Gannett, has called for changes within the media company's board of directors. Icahn wants to switch out two members as part of concerns over the stability of Gannett's spinoff venture.

Gannett plans to break up its print and digital media entities, and Icahn has concerns the move could weaken both companies.

No word on planned changes for Tucson. Gannett's arrangement with Lee is one of the few plums the print entity has, so if one can put up an "archive" website at and proclaim that commitment is holding up its end of the bargain as part of its joint operating agreement to share revenue that leads to a seven-figure annual paycheck, why mess with that sound investment?

And on the TV side, there's probably disappointment Gannett's partnership with the Star led to a conflict to purchase television stations KMSB and KTTU during its acquisition of Belo, which used to own both Tucson signals. Unfortunately for Gannett, that conflict led to a sale of both stations to former Belo executive Jack Sander.

There's no word what Sander plans to do with the all but abandoned vast studio space on Sixth Avenue used to broadcast KMSB and KTTU, but a plot like that would have all kinds of upside for say a Slaughterhouse type haunted house concept, or even a new Spirit store since Halloween makes a hell of a lot more money than local TV nowadays.

BBC Popup makes appearance in Tucson

The BBC television program "Pop Up," chose Tucson as one of five destinations in its efforts to attempt to explain what the hell America is like to its viewers across the proverbial pond.

It's not quite Ricky Gervais torturing poor Karl Pilkington during his international forays of discomfort, but the folks at the BBC did manage to visit the Sleepy Hollow trailer park and take in some old west shows, either perpetuating a Southwest cowboy stereotype or reflecting what Tucsonans outside of downtown and the UA would rather not admit, that any concept of a "recovering economy" has done something BBC "Pop Up" didn't: bypass the Old Pueblo altogether.

South Dakota, Louisiana, Colorado and Pennsylvania are on the Brit travel list as well.

Donors step up to help photograph the Arizona/Mexico border got a pleasant surprise from donors who helped to support its Panorama de la linea project. The media outlet's Kickstarter campaign had no problem blasting through initial financial requests, thus paving the way to fund an effort that will photograph every mile of the Arizona/Mexico border.

"We'll do what no one has ever done before: Capture an image from every mile of the Arizona-Mexico border," according to's Kickstarter page. "Not only will we show you the sweep of the terrain, we'll build a deep online interface for you to explore, with multiple-image slideshows of pivotal places, video and text interviews with residents, historical descriptions, and more—and we'll geocode everything and place it on an interactive map. Plus, we'll publish a limited-edition high-quality photography book on the project, and you can have a signed copy—and your contribution to the project can even earn you a tax deduction!"

The fundraising effort, which has already topped $8,000, concludes at the end of the week, but if more contributors step up has announced a matching donor is willing to sweeten the pot extensively.

The hardcover of the photographic effort could be out by spring.

Oppenheim named Senior VP of Today Show

Noah Oppenheim, a graduate of The Gregory School in Tucson, has returned to The Today Show as senior vice president. It marks Oppenheim's second stint with the program. He has numerous producing roles with NBC programming, including connections to Jim Cramer and Joe Scarborough.

Oppenheim joins Savannah Guthrie as Tucsonans with ties to NBC's benchmark morning television news and variety program.

Heather Stricker pegged as Morning Blend co-host. Tucson performing artist Heather Stricker started her role as Morning Blend co-host on KGUN TV 9 this week. Stricker is a Tucsonan who attended the UA and has television appearances in the US and UK.

The Morning Blend airs weekday mornings at 11.

Leslie Lois new Groove voice

Groove radio listeners may have noticed the addition of an afternoon drive DJ. That would be Leslie Lois. A veteran of sister-station KMXZ 94.9 Mixfm, Lois is the second local vocal addition to KTGV 106.3 FM this year.

The classic hip-hop format was jockless for most of its run, but added morning host Matt "Rascal" Condie to the lineup in December and pegged Lois for afternoon drive the first of the year.

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