Media Watch

KOLD nabs new news director

Joe Hengemuehler has been named news director at CBS affiliate KOLD TV 13. Hengemuehler replaces long-time KOLD news director Michelle Germano, who accepted a similar position with a television station in Raleigh.

In a penny-pinching corporate media environment where the replacement process can often take an inordinate amount of time, KOLD acted quickly to bring Hengemuehler to Tucson.

Hengemuehler makes the move from up I-10, where he worked most recently as the City of Glendale's interim communications director. Responsibilities in that role included overseeing the city's public information department, creative services, the convention and visitor's bureau brochure and Glendale television outlet.

Prior to that, Hengemuehler spent a decade with Phoenix television station KNXV, as the news director for six years.

"Tucson is an exciting and vibrant news market. It's also one that demands excellence both over the air and online," Hengemuehler said in a press release.

Online has been a KOLD strength. The Raycom-owned station has long embraced the technology movement, and has been very good at incorporating the traditional television model with an online and social media presence that has played a role in maintaining its place at or near the top of Tucson's television news ratings for much of the last decade.

"Our job is to make sure we are seen as leaders when it comes to consistently super serving news consumers on all platforms," Hengemuehler said in the press release.

Hengemuehler will also be responsible for KMSB TV 11, the Gannett owned FOX affiliate that signed a deal with KOLD and Raycom to produce its news content.

KMSB latest to snipe about satellite deal

When the calendar nears certain fiscal quarter months (October, January, April, July), there's often just a little bit of entertainment value in discovering what local TV station will be in a hassle with a cable or satellite provider over deals rights and financial payouts this time around.

The most recent participant: KMSB TV 11, which wanted to raise the ire of satellite subscribers to call their provider and demand the quality programming one can only get from FOX.

"Attention DISH TV subscribers: Starting 4 p.m., Sept. 30, Fox 11 may not be available on DISH and you could lose access to FOX programming, including Empire, NFL football, and MLB post-season games, as well as your local news, weather and sports," said the scroll prior to the dreaded looming deadline. "Tell DISH to keep Fox 11 on the air."

Perhaps concern over the deal and the power of the Tucson demographic is part of the reason poor Empire's ratings numbers dipped from the season premier to episode 2. It's also never annoying at all to enjoy a change in the quality of signal and aspect ratio when KMSB (and other stations inevitably involved in these quarrels) decide to implement their locally produced scroll across the bottom of nationally syndicated programming.

And never mind that for many viewers, KMSB is available over the air anyway, and if the antenna is good and there aren't any landmark and blindspot interference issues, that signal is superior. For some reason, KMSB left that out of the otherwise informative scroll.

Moten's departure brings local presence on The Vibe to zero

From a format standpoint, the Cumulus Tucson decision to switch formats on 97.5 FM to classic hip-hop after a second failed attempt at top-40 has been a boon. It also may have marked the end of Carrie Moten's radio career.

Moten was the lone local component on i97.5. Even then, her role was limited. She'd occasionally stop in the station to do voice tracking for shifts or show up for station remotes.

But once the format flipped, Moten's days were done. She was based in Phoenix anyway during most of her i97.5 stint, and now resides in the Valley full-time while trying to launch a marketing business.

Despite its lack of local, the Vibe remains one of the hottest turnaround stories in Tucson radio in some time.

Cumulus hopes for new vibe with CEO replacement

The CEO tenure of Lew Dickey came to a crashing halt last week.

Dickey and brother John held a controlling interest in the radio conglomerate since its purchase in 1997. Under their leadership, Cumulus became the nation's second largest radio cluster. It swallowed up Citadel Broadcasting after it went bankrupt, and that deal led to the acquisition of its five Tucson properties, highlighted by country music format KIIM FM 99.5.

It also implemented a business model very similar to rival Clear Channel, now iheartmedia. Buy, buy, buy followed by gut, gut, gut talent, thus undercutting radio's one advantage in the ever-changing media landscape, local content, in favor of a cookie cutter group of station formats that doesn't take into account the specific nuances and preferences of the markets it serves.

Lew Dickey will remain vice-chairman. John will resign as executive vice-president. Board member Mary G. Berner takes over the top spot.

Cumulus stock has been in freefall for much of the last year. It traded under 75 cents Monday and has been as low as 68 cents. Last year, Cumulus stock was in the $4.50 range.

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