Media Watch

Rivers flows smoothly into KXCI GM position

For community radio station KXCI FM 91.3, comfort has not exactly been the norm, but that and stability is exactly what Cathy Rivers inherits as she takes the reins.

"We are very solid financially," says Rivers, who last month was unanimously approved by the KXCI Board of Directors to replace Randy Peterson, who was at the helm as GM for some of the station's most ambitious and successful fundraising pushes. Peterson has moved onto other non-profit ventures. "The station is doing great. We're in really, really good shape."

Rivers transitions into the station's top spot after handling programming responsibilities. From that role, she possesses unique insight as to the assets within the KXCI building, and hopes to expand their sphere.

"What I want to get away from is national content that comes to us," Rivers says . "I want to move in a direction where we create national content for other stations to use because there's a lot of talent in this town. We want to have on-demand content and offer up some of our incredible programs to garner some national attention. We want to be able to put those up online for other radio stations to potentially run."

Making that happen involves one of the necessary time sucks in radio: figuring out a way to go beyond programming and content over the airwaves, and making it available, viable and interesting in podcast form for other venues to access in more modern capacities.

"(We need to) do more social media. We've done some here and there, but we're ready to take off in that direction. We want to focus on things like podcasts on iTunes and getting our best shows national attention. It's a good station. The programmers and volunteers are really incredible and talented," says Rivers, who also sees KXCI as a harbor for educating those interested in the profession about the inner workings and nuances of the industry. "I want to be able to have year-round classes to train people on all aspects of broadcasting and podcasting and DJing."

Rivers' radio chops date to the 1990s at a number of stations in the private sphere, with a fair amount of breaks for other pursuits along the way. She joined KXCI in 2008 before accepting a position with a community radio station in St. Louis, and then was lured back three years ago when the KXCI Program Director slot opened.

That has allowed her the opportunity to play the key role in galvanizing and streamlining the station's sound while balancing the intentionally eclectic nature of its programming and understanding the wealth of talent at her disposal.

"The thing that's important about KXCI is the staff is extremely creative, extremely talented, and they're going to have an opportunity to shine," she says.

On the technical and marketing front, Rivers says KXCI continues to tweak the signal, which now expands well into the northwest corridor. Prior to the massive six-figure Amplify Tucson! fundraising campaign that tied in with the station's 30th anniversary last year, KXCI signal strength had limited reach. Now residents throughout a greater expanse of Southern Arizona have access to the over-the-air product. The next step, according to Rivers, is getting up to speed on marketing efforts to let folks living in the outskirts know 91.3 FM is now much more readily accessible to them.

Mrs. Grant agrees to continue mixing it up in the mornings

While Bobby Rich has been the fixture on the KMXZ Mixfm 94.9 morning show, and many still remember his drive-time collaboration with Brad Behan, prior to the station's embarrassing handling of his firing many years ago, it's perhaps easy to forget Mrs. Grant has been an integral part of the proceedings for well over half the program's run.

And her role on Mixfm's morning show appears secure for the foreseeable future. Mrs. Grant signed a multi-year extension last week, shortly after celebrating 12 years on the program.

"It's not easy to put together a winning three-person team of any kind," said Operations Manager Shaun Holly in an internal memo announcing the extension. "Thanks for your contribution, commitment, patience, passion and loyalty Mrs. G...and thank you for wanting to continue to fly the MIXfm flag in your radio career!"

The Morning Mix, which features Rich, Mrs. Grant and Greg Curtis, remains among the highest rated local morning shows in the market, and the anchor for the new Scripps Communications cluster. KMXZ routinely ranks in the top three among Tucson radio stations.

Scripps deal finalized

Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps officially took the reins of broadcast operations from the Journal Broadcast Group. Locally, the deal affects four radio stations: Mix, old-school hip-hop format KTGV FM 106.3, news/talker KQTH 104.1 FM and ESPN affiliate KFFN 1490 AM/104.9 FM.

Television stations KGUN 9 and KWBA 58 are part of the transition as well.

The acquisition of KGUN helps Scripps rank as one of the nation's largest owners of ABC affiliates. All told, Scripps will employ roughly 4,000 in its 33 markets.

Meanwhile, Journal, which owned the cluster and broadcast operations up until March 31, transitions to print and digital products, and pockets $10 million in the deal.

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