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SO LONG, NEWS

So much for "all news, all the time." KTKT 990 AM, is returning to a music format, but with a different twist: "Mexican oldies," in the words of general manager Steve Groesbeck.

The switch is scheduled for 2 p.m. this Saturday.

Artists like Vicente Fernandez will be at the center of the station's sound, which, according to Groesbeck, will target an older Hispanic audience than the other Spanish-language station owned by Arizona Lotus Corporation, "La Caliente," 102.1 FM.

Explaining the abandonment of the current format, Groesbeck admits, "News just didn't seem to catch on with the audience. Over the last year, we've seen a fairly significant erosion in the cume." Meaning that the ratings have gone into the toilet.

There's already a handful of other Spanish-language music stations in town, but Groesbeck feels that Tucson's roughly 30-percent Hispanic population isn't served by as many radio choices as the Anglo audience.

(The fact that the listenership of the present Spanish-language stations accounts for far less than 30 percent of the overall radio audience could suggest, of course, that Hispanics like rock, country and talk formats, too.)

KTKT's music will be locally programmed, and as the station grows, more and more of the DJs will be heard live, rather than via voice tracks recorded onto some computer hard drive.

This seems to mean the big sign-off for veteran talk-show host and sometime newsman John C. Scott, who in the past few months has been reduced to doing rip'n'read newscasts on KTKT. Last week, I heard from rival newscasters that Scott was calling around town looking for a new job, to no avail. But Scott shouldn't give up hope yet, because ...


FRED IMUS FIZZLES

Fred Imus and Nicole Cox did their last show on KJLL, "The Jolt," on Oct. 26, then disappeared from the airwaves without much explanation.

"We couldn't get a long-term commitment from Fred," says Jolt GM Pat Johnston. "Most local talk programming in Tucson is bartered," meaning the hosts buy their time from the station; "we put this on ourselves as long as we could, and we held on for 10 months. This was a business decision; we needed to get more advertising and revenue to support the program."

Some faithful Imus listeners have complained to me that although Fred's contributions to his brother Don's nationally syndicated show are usually fresh and funny, he couldn't maintain the momentum for two hours a day in his own venue. And listeners were getting tired of Cox's interviews with CNN personalities rather than real newsmakers.

Dr. Laura is filling the slot, although Johnston promises to start a local weekday news program from noon to 1 p.m. "eventually."

"I'm still looking for dynamic local programming, but at the same time, I've got to carry great syndicated shows so we can get listenership," he says. "I'd certainly entertain making a home here at The Jolt for anybody from KTKT."

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