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Media Watch

Northwest and Beyond

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The Casas Adobes-based Northwest Explorer started the new year with a shorter name and a bigger news staff, reflecting the 11-year-old weekly newspaper's growth and expansion.

Demographics and company goals prompted both. In January, Editor Mark Evans added the Catalina Foothills School District to the newspaper's institutional coverage area, and the paper started circulating into the central foothills' 85718 ZIP code. Evans said the decision to drop "Northwest" from the nameplate arose from feelings that that Catalina Foothills readers wouldn't identify with the Northwest Side. And readers in the subdivisions just over the Pinal County line probably would never identify with the Tucson area.

His staff has grown from five to eight positions, and he's looking for a design editor to replace Jennifer Judge Hensel, who joined the Tucson Citizen.

Evans said the new positions and the addition of "second-day" Associated Press wire stories gives the Explorer enough depth that he can take a reporter out of the regular assignment rotation to spend time on deeper investigations and projects.

Although he'd like to hire locally, he's also gone national in his search for young talent, and says he has been thrilled at the quality of applicants from around the country. And he's real direct about the situation--"the job pays $25,000 a year to start, and you'll work your ass off."

(He leaves the latter line out of his ads. That's a little better than my starting pay at the now-defunct Arizona Territorial covering Casas Adobes in 1976. I was paid $6,500 the first year, which, adjusted for inflation, is $22,843 today.)

In exchange for all that, Evans said, good staffers should be ready to move on to bigger papers in a couple of years, packing a solid collection of stories that will attract a hiring editor's attention.

The paper's circulation is about 40,000, with a goal of 45,000 by year's end, Evans said, adding that the paper has no plans to try to switch to full paid circulation. While a community weekly fills a specific information niche for its readers, he said, it's the weekly that's usually dropped in favor of the metro daily when a family tightens its budget.


GET YER EARS ON

The fall Arbitron book landed a couple of weeks ago, and things around local radio got a little shook up.

Adult contemporary station KMXZ-FM displaced the city's sole commercial country station, KIIM-FM, at the top of the charts as its market share rose to 8.9 percent from 6.9 percent in the summer book. KIIM's share fell from 12.9 percent in the summer book to 8.8 percent. The percent is based on the average number of listeners per quarter-hour between 6 a.m. and midnight Monday-Sunday, and the survey covers the period from Sept. 23 to Dec. 5, 2004.

Rounding out the top 10: KOHT-FM (contemporary hits/rhythmic; 6.6 share); KRQQ-FM (contemporary hits/pop, 6.5); KNST-AM (news/talk; 6.2); KCMT-FM (regional Mexican, 4.3); KHYT-FM (classic rock, 4.1); KFMA-FM (alternative, 3.9); KLPX-FM (classic rock, 3.4) and KTUC-AM (adult standards, 3.3).

Three Clear Channel Phoenix stations made it into the fall book. News/talk KFYI-AM and smooth jazz KYOT-FM tied for 26th with 0.5 percent market share, and mainstream rhythmic station KZZP-FM managed 0.4 percent.

Clear Channel's seven local stations and three Phoenix stations accounted for 27 percent of the market in the book, up from 26 percent on the seven Tucson stations alone in the summer book. Citadel Broadcasting's five stations made up 19.6 percent of the market share, down from 23.6 percent in the summer book. Journal Broadcast Group's four stations had 14.4 percent of the ears, up from 12.8 percent in the last period. Arizona Lotus' three stations had a combined market share of 11.6 percent, down from 13.7 percent in the summer.


PIONEERING

Way back when we first got word that Patty Weiss was being moved out of the 10 p.m. anchorfemme slot at KVOA in favor of Kristi Tedesco, folks were mumbling about pioneering women in local television. The Skinny back in December opined that Pat Stevens at KGUN was the real pioneer.

The details, as gathered from KGUN retirees George Wallace and Larry Schnebly:

Stevens joined KGUN in 1966, writing news part-time after college classes. She was getting $1.35 an hour--minimum wage at the time. (Adjusted for inflation, it's $7.96 an hour today.)

Wallace, then the station's general manager, promoted her to news director in 1972. Whether she was the first woman in the country to head a television news department remains a matter of some debate. The Radio-Television News Directors Association says she was the first. But Vernon Stone, the professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Missouri known for his research on women's advancement in TV news management, says that maybe she was the third, but only by a matter of months. In a 1975 study, he also noted that Stevens was one of only two women directing newsrooms of any size. She was running a 14-person staff, while on average, women news directors oversaw an average staff size of four people.

Schnebly says that the ambiguity of the first name, Pat, led to an interesting situation at her first meeting of ABC affiliates' news directors. "They weren't going to let her in," Schnebly said. "But she got in."

And, he said, she kept knocking on doors, becoming the RTNDA's first female director, and she came up one vote short of becoming its first woman president.

Today, she's out of the biz and is a co-owner of a Phoenix manufacturing company that makes plastic ID bands. She did not respond to requests for an interview.

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