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Zona Politics begins season 2 this Sunday

Jim Nintzel has learned a great deal about the nuances of weekly TV, and even more about the what's necessary behind the scenes. As he enters the second season as the host and owner of Zona Politics, there's hope that knowledge will enhance the product.

There are already a number of changes in front of the camera, from the show's new television location to conversations that move beyond just Southern Arizona's political machinations.

"We are broadening the scope of the show a little bit. We are still interviewing political leaders, and we've done interviews with scientists, but we'll do some cultural stuff here and there to make it a little more general interest in some respects," said Nintzel, the senior writer at the Tucson Weekly. "Politics is still our backbone, but we're branching out. It's a great change of pace. I've always been dazzled by the science that goes on in this community. We have more NASA grants than any other academic institution in the country. The idea that we're sending a probe to study an asteroid to grab samples, it's terrific to be able to talk to these guys."

The half hour program is also expanding its venue availability. In addition to a new TV location—starting this Sunday, Zona Politics airs weekly at 8 a.m. on KWBA TV 58, last year it aired on sister station KGUN TV 9—the program will be available Sunday afternoons on community radio station KXCI 91.3 FM, on YouTube and in podcast form through zonapolitics.com.

"We want to advance the ability of people to catch the show," said Nintzel, who notes the most significant learning experience isn't so much about how to conduct interviews in front of a camera. He did that when he handled the Arizona Illustrated Friday Roundtable on KUAT TV 6. It's about everything else that goes into the product long before the cameras roll.

"It's an accumulation of a lot of things," Nintzel said. "We've learned how to work together as a team. We've done about three dozen shows since we launched in October, and along the way we've been able to build a studio in the back of our Brink headquarters. That was a big step. It got us out of Access Tucson. They were wonderful hosts, but we were concerned about whether they were going to be in business. But this also gave us the opportunity to build something that would look a lot better, where we could add some key pieces. As a nonprofit, I've learned a lot about fundraising. I'm slowly but surely learning how to get people to help support it."

And Nintzel hopes the financial support the program has received so far will continue to grow in step with what he anticipates is more expanded coverage down the road.

"One of our goals next year is to do things outside the studio and more investigative reporting, so it won't be just talking heads. We're very excited about that," Nintzel said. "We've learned there are people who will support the idea this kind of political discussion is important for the community."

"People are telling me they enjoy the show. We are now starting to do some live events, and that has gotten a really good response. There's some real enthusiasm out there. Folks are saying, 'Yeah, we want to help.' We're getting ready to do a Kickstarter campaign, so we'll see how broad we can get our support. So far, so good. I'm hoping to continue building it as we get ready for the 2016 election year."

Star 1330 Rises Again

A couple weeks ago in Media Watch, I included a note wondering whether the end had arrived for KWFM 1330 AM, also known as Star 1330, the latest incarnation of one of the craziest radio stories in the local history of the industry.

It had been at least a month since Star, an automated pop hits hodge-podge, has exuded a single song from that sad terrestrial signal. In the column, I mentioned how I feared its days were done, and it saddened me.

For the last decade-plus, 1330 has been one of the most fascinating, entertaining and baffling stations in the market. There were people who behind the scenes seemingly wanted to sabotage it, and others who gave it everything they had to keep the thing afloat. Yet through it all, the one constant was chaos. Chaos is really good, and really fun for things like Media Watch columns.

However, after this latest soiree with silence, I feared its time had finally come.

Then, by incredible coincidence, the very day that article ran, 1330 started broadcasting again. What a fantastic surprise.

I've even been told by faithful listeners—two of the perhaps dozen who enjoy a random selection of pop hits played by about a half dozen other local stations on the FM band, or who are taking the long, non-preset way from sports stations KCUB 1290 to KFFN 1490—there's even a promo that mentions Media Watch by name. I am honored to have a small part in Tucson radio's wackiest legacy.

One of the faithful listeners who tipped me off about Star 1330's triumphant return said the song the station was playing at that brief moment was the Rick Astley classic, "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Somehow that seems fitting. Thank you 1330. I hope to never give you up again either.

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