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Holly out as Operations Manager at Scripps radio

Shaun Holly's four-year run as Operations Manager at Scripps' four-station cluster came to an abrupt end June 11, and by virtue of the tone of the company memo announcing the decision, it's pretty clear Holly had no say in the issue.

"Effective today Shaun Holly is no longer with the company," the memo said. "We appreciate all of Shaun's contributions over the past four years and wish him the best as he moves on. For the foreseeabe (sic) future all of programming and promotions will work directly with me."

"Me" is Leon Clark, Vice-President and General Manager on the radio side. And obviously, now add Operations Manager to that ever-growing business card.

This is the first major personnel move Scripps has made since its purchase of radio and television properties from the Journal Broadcast Group in March.

The reason for the dismissal won't be made official, but it's been a tough run on the radio side of late, especially with the cluster's talk formats.

Scripps' Tucson cluster features four radio stations: KMXZ, MixFm 94.9, the so-called "at work station" which is basically inoffensive classic hits adult contemporary; The Groove, KGMG 106.3 FM, a classic R&B format, and two talk stations, news/talker KQTH 104.1 FM and sports talk station KFFN 1490 AM/104.9 FM.

Three of the four have not been performing well, and those numbers have been especially apparent on the talk formats. KQTH has struggled since undergoing a number of format tweaks. The morning drive news wheel, hosted by Mike Rapp, has given the station an opportunity for advertising slots, but more of a concern is the trickle down affect on Jon Justice, who had strong numbers in morning drive, but has floundered in his 8 to noon time slot.

KQTH is also something of a hodge-podge. It has a news wheel for two hours in the morning, then Justice's political talk format until noon, then syndicated financial talk show host Dave Ramsey from noon to 2 p.m. and local host James T. Harris in afternoon drive. Syndicated programming from conservative political talkers Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin occupy the night lineup.

There was a point in time where it looked as though KQTH's move to FM was paying dividends. It was outperforming legacy news/talker KNST AM 790 in a number of key demos and even outpaced KNST during one overall ratings period, but of late KNST, with its lineup of local host Garret Lewis in the morning and syndicated stalwarts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity has dominated KQTH for most of the last couple years or so.

The outlook is equally as bleak at sportstalker KFFN, where local afternoon host Zach Clark has struggled to gain traction. While sports doesn't bring in big numbers in this market, KFFN is getting leveled by cross-town rival KCUB 1290 AM and the increasing popularity of Kevin Woodman and Mike Luke's local afternoon offering.

When Jody Oehler hosted KFFN's afternoon show, the station, which also gets the benefit of an FM translator signal, would generally outperform KCUB about two out of three books. KCUB has won five of the last six ratings periods, and the separation between listenership continues to grow.

On the music side, sources say Mix hasn't been the revenue producer it once was. It hasn't been the market's top-rated radio station in any book in at least two years.

So since Holly took the reins as Operations Manager, the two talk formats have floundered and Mix is sort of meandering. Holly also moved popular traffic reporter and Tucson radio fixture Allen Kath off the Mix morning show. The new boss is facing another significant looming morning show decision on The Mix.

Holly got the addition of Matt Condie right. The Rascal in the Morning show has done well for The Groove.

But perhaps this decision had less to do with performance and more to do with money. After all, Scripps jettisoned about two-dozen employees at its Phoenix television property just last week.

On the radio side locally, it now saves the salary of an Operations Manager, at least for the time being. Additionally, it took advantage of the ownership transition and hasn't bothered to replace the Program Director for its talk stations since Bill White left in January.

Gabe Encinas no longer a racist

The May 28 Media Watch column focused on the consistent harassment efforts of PointGuardU.com, a website devoted to coverage of UA basketball, and site owner Ajay "Ace" Thakore. In that column, it noted that Thakore purchased the name gabeencinas.com following a Twitter spat where Thakore claimed Encinas, who writes for azdesertswarm.com, stole information without attribution.

Seeming rather pissy about the whole thing, Thakore then linked gabeencinas.com to whitepower.com, and in a tweet claimed Gabe Encinas was a racist.

Well, apparently Encinas is no longer a racist. Shortly after the article ran, Thakore removed the hyperlink to the white supremacist site. Gabeencinas.com links to a generic godaddy set-up page.

However, turnabout seems to be fair (or not-so-fair) play. The Media Watch story got some run in a reddit conversation, and a commenter there announced he had purchased the domain for ajthakore.com.

Based on where ajthakore.com is linked, let's just say Thakore probably wishes he was pegged a lover of the white power movement.

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