Media Watch

Sonu Wasu lands gig up the road

KOLD TV 13 reporter Sonu Wasu is the latest Tucson on-air talent to get snapped up by Phoenix. Wasu starts the next step in her career with the Phoenix ABC affiliate this month.

"I will truly miss all of you, but not too far up the road so hope you all stay connected and continue to message me your story ideas!!," said Wasu on her Facebook page. "Thank you all for your friendship and support! Many of you know I've been commuting to work at KOLD for the last few months. While I'm sad to leave an amazing newsroom and wonderful colleagues, I'm excited to begin my life with my boyfriend John Gonnella and continue to grow as a reporter at one of the best stations in the country!! I hear the staff there is pretty amazing too."

In addition to Tucson, Wasu spent time in Dayton, Knoxville, and Billings, Montana.

Two programs change locations after 1210 goes dark

When KEVT 1210 ended its terrestrial talk radio run last month, it left a few programs in search of new locations. While Jim Parisi, the man behind the effort, has transitioned to an Internet and Power Talk 1210 smart phone app-based broadcast model, hosts of other shows continue to see value in the traditional radio option.

Among them, Matt Russell, host of On the Menu, the popular weekend radio program. Shortly after the announcement, Russell decided to move his program to KQTH 104.1 FM.

"We're really looking forward to working with our new partners at 104.1, a station that has demonstrated for years a commitment to excellence in programming," said Russell in a press release. "We'll be joining a line-up that includes many of Tucson's best known local shows, which makes it such a great fit with our local focus."

Russell's program will air Saturdays from 5-6 p.m. on the Scripps owned news/talker.

"We've hit the coveted sweet spot with our new 5 p.m. slot, which means that it will likely be happy hour wherever we'll be broadcasting from," said Russell in the presser.

Meanwhile, Ron Zack, host of Law Review Radio, has transitioned to KVOI AM 1030. That program will air Sundays at 1 p.m.

For Lee, changes at the top, sort of...

Lee Enterprises, the publishing outlet that owns and operates the Arizona Daily Star, has tweaked the titles of some of its executives.

Mary Junck, Lee's former chairman, president and chief executive officer, is now executive chairman. Kevin Mowbray takes over Junck's former position.

On a financial note, the Davenport based publisher has repurchased $10 million worth of its 9.5 percent notes. The move is designed to limit the number of higher percentage rate financing the company faces in the not-too-distant future as a result of its bankruptcy ruling.

"Repurchasing the notes allows us to continue our aggressive deleveraging and reduce one of our higher costs of capital," Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ron Mayo said in a Lee press release. "To the extent our 9.5 percent notes are available at an attractive discount, we will consider additional buy backs."

From a stock standpoint, investors appear less than confident about Lee's long-term future. The stock began the year with a value around $1.75, slipped dramatically during this year's market slide and has recently leveled off to about $1.30.

Lee's overall revenue decreased by 5 percent in its fiscal first quarter, according to company financial releases. Total advertising and marketing decreased 8.8 percent, largely because the company continues to struggle to make the familiar transition from losing ground in the once-profitable print category and making it up in digital.

Lee's digital advertising was up 7.2 perecent. The problem: digital advertising still makes up just over 20 percent of the company's ad revenue.

Overall, Lee still remains $678 million in debt.

Fortunately, Lee isn't iHeartMedia

The nation's largest radio company, iHeartMedia, is reportedly discussing a major bond or equity offering to help lift the burden of its $20.6 billion debt load.

According to a Feb. 3 report in Bloomberg Business, "The company would sell securities in one of its units to retire $1.4 billion of bonds the parent is responsible for paying."

Like Lee, iHeart is racing against the clock. It hopes this plan will help to erase nearly $200 million in unsecured notes at 5.5 percent due in December of this year, as well as revolving loans scheduled due in December 2017 and $850 million in unsecured notes slated for January 2018. It faces a much more significant debt burden: more than $8 billion in 2019.

Formerly Clear Channel, iHeartMedia operates six radio stations in Tucson.

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