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'TUCSON WEEKLY' HOSTS ALTERNATIVE NEWSWEEKLY CONVENTION

What happens when an estimated 250 people who work for publications similar to the Tucson Weekly get together in one location? Well, this weekend, Tucson will discover the answer as the Weekly hosts the 32nd annual Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort.

"The people who have done the heavy lifting are (advertising director) Jill A'Hearn and (circulation manager) Laura Horvath. They have spearheaded everything from the parties to the little details that are vital, but pains in the ass to do," said Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle.

The seminar portion of the event will focus largely on economic issues. While the alternative-weekly publication model appears to be on better footing than the struggling daily model, it hasn't endured the economic downturn unscathed.

"A good chunk of the programming is dealing with getting through the recession, and then what's going to happen when we're out of it," said Boegle. "There are a lot of Web-publishing roundtables. There are a lot of Web site roundtables. There's a session called 'Little Time, Little Money, Big Investigations.' How do you do more with less? There's an advertising thing as to whether alt-weeklies need to tweak their advertising strategy. There's a thing on user-generated content, Web advertising in the independent business community, strategies for surviving in the digital age. ... A good chunk deals with the future and surviving this muck."

Boegle will also moderate a panel discussion for convention attendees with Mark Townley of Humane Borders and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada on the illegal-immigration issue, a topic with obvious proximity to Tucson that continues to boil just under the surface on a national level.

"Our goal will be to open the eyes of everyone on the immigration issue and how, in many ways, it's tearing Southern Arizona apart, and how it affects the communities from which everyone is attending," Boegle said. "The title of the panel is '50 Miles From Here: Lessons on the Border to Take Home With You.' We really want to open people's eyes on the debacle that is our current border policy. People are dying; people's lives are being screwed up by the trafficking. ... Many of the people who are crossing over the border here and risking their lives are ending up in cities on the East (Coast) and West Coast. (The point) is to give these newspaper folks ideas to take home and (to) cover the immigration issue in their hometown. It's fallen on the backburner, but the immigration issue is going to come back."

The heavy-drinking/debauchery/party portion of the convention will include a Friday night gathering at Geronimo Plaza near the UA's Main Gate, followed by a dive-bar tour hosted by Jim Nintzel.

"The dive bar tour is $25 (for convention attendees). It's going to be a blast," Boegle said. "We're going to The Hut, The Buffet, Bashful Bandit, The Shelter, Danny's Baboquivari and the Meet Rack."

On Saturday night, the event will take place at Maynards Market and Kitchen at the Train Depot, followed by an after-party at the Rialto Theatre with Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta.


FIRE COSTS BELO AN ESTIMATED QUARTER-MILLION DOLLARS

The building housing Belo TV stations KMSB Channel 11 and KTTU Channel 18 was hit by a fire Monday morning, June 22. The blaze was confined to an equipment-storage room adjacent to the facility's main studio.

The fire closed the building for part of the day on Monday, but employees were allowed back in time to do the Monday-night newscast.

Nobody was hurt. Early estimates placed equipment and structural damage at about $250,000.


KORNMAN MOVES FROM PRINT TO TV

Sheryl Kornman, who spent nine years as a reporter and assistant city editor with the Tucson Citizen, has joined KGUN Channel 9 as a news-assignment editor. Kornman started Monday, June 22.

Kornman's print experience could provide an interesting perspective in a medium built of late on a quick-hit model that condenses stories into 80-second packages.


KVOI CHANGEOVER TAKES HOLD JULY 1

The format trade between news/talker KVOI AM 690 and adult-standards station KCEE AM 1030 goes into effect at the beginning of July.

KVOI, operated by Doug Martin at Good News Broadcasting, cut the $1.3 million deal with KCEE owner Jim Slone several months ago. The Federal Communications Commission officially approved the transfer earlier this month (June).

"This is a strategic move that will help both stations flourish," Martin said in a press release. "The frequency switch gives KVOI broader nighttime coverage and a dominance over other news/talk stations in Tucson as the 'now' most powerful news/talk station in Tucson and Pima County. With the move to 690 AM, the low-dial location for KCEE positions its pop-classic format to compete head-on with all other oldies stations in the community."

Well, that's half-true. This move is all about giving Good News a better foothold into the news/talk arena, and the transfer of KVOI's current programming to 1030 is a clear benefit in that regard. That signal is significantly stronger than 690, where ratings in the 1 neighborhood in 12-plus Arbitron compilations were common. Meanwhile, Slone guided 1030 to the top spot among adult-standard formats with a listener base that roughly tripled KVOI's listenership at AM 690.

The main reason for the switch—690's bad signal strength—is no benefit to the adult-standards station, even if 690 maintains some variation of Slone's popular tweak of the format.

The argument that it can get a boost as the lowest-numbered station on the dial is flawed. That didn't exactly help KSAZ AM 580 (now a Mexican religious station) during its adult-standards run—and that station boasts one of the stronger daytime signals in the state. Adult-standard competitors KTUC AM 1400 and KGVY AM 1080 have a definite chance to increase their share of the pie.

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