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Media Watch




A face familiar to local TV-news viewers is back: Steve Nunez landed a reporter position with ABC affiliate KGUN Channel 9 last month.

"I'm a news junkie. I'm still in love with Tucson and my community, and I'm trying to make a difference in my community. Everything kept pushing me back to what I love to do, and that's news," said Nunez, who was victimized by one of last year's Clear Channel radio downsizing swaths; he then tried to start a small advertising agency of his own. "Having a lot of time on your hands, you start to analyze your life, and sometimes, it's not about the money, but being fulfilled at the end of the day. That fulfillment for me is in news."

Nunez says the opportunity to return to KGUN first presented itself a couple of months ago, and was bolstered by the return of news director Forrest Carr, with whom he worked in the '90s.

Nunez started as an intern at KGUN in 1992. He briefly accepted an on-air position at a station in New Mexico before returning to KGUN from 1997 to 2002. He made another brief return in 2004-2005.

A native Tucsonan, Nunez hopes his familiarity with the community can play a role in bolstering the station's news presence.

"Having someone local who knows the community can give a local perspective. ... It's worked to my favor," Nunez said. "That fits in line with viewer advocacy. How do you give voice to people and hold officials accountable if you don't know the local issues? ... I'm connected to numerous segments of the community. It's a good fit.

"It's not about covering issues like (at) a public-relations firm, but covering news in a way that holds people accountable in conjunction with what everyday people are feeling and saying. If dollars are being misspent, I think the people in power should answer. ... We're seeing it with Rio Nuevo. It's all about bringing local back to Tucson and giving Tucsonans and people in Southern Arizona an opportunity to watch local news that hits home for them."


In the Jan. 28 Media Watch, I discussed how some news stations are engaging in what's called a "pay-to-play" practice—where an advertiser pays to be featured during a program segment.

The Media Watch item focused on an upcoming KGUN Channel 9 hour-long daytime program—which will reportedly amount to a series of infomercials featuring businesses that pay for the airtime.

Here's the Media Watch paragraph in question: "Such advertising-driven programming is not new to the market. Many of the local morning-news programs have paid segments, and KVOA Channel 4 carries the formula through to occasional segments on its 4 p.m. newscast. While the KGUN incarnation will also focus on community events, entertainment activities and service groups, the drive is advertiser-motivated and separated from the traditional news structure."

KVOA officials say my assertion about them was incorrect.

"KVOA does not do 'pay for play' ... nor do I think we've ever done it," said station manager Kathleen Choal. "The news is separate from the advertisers. It's something I feel very strongly in, and the company feels very strongly about. You can not pay to get on our newscasts."

So how exactly does it work? KVOA's 4 p.m. newscast is filled with interview segments with folks from plastic surgeons to tech heads to food gurus, financial experts and insurance agents.

"People in the community call and say, 'Hey, this would make a good story,'" Choal said. "We have our contributors ... people in the community doing certain things. The sales department had no say. They wanted to have a say in it, but they had no say whatsoever."

As of deadline, KOLD had not responded to a query regarding its practices.


The Tucson City Council's recent 60 percent cut in outside-agency funding has forced Access Tucson to shut its doors for the second time in six months.

The community-run outlet, which produces upward of 200 hours of original programming per month, was slated to close on Feb. 10. It plans to reopen March 9.

Access Tucson has prime real estate downtown, and there are efforts to move the operation. Merger talks with Tucson 12 are also under discussion.

Access Tucson's first fiscally related month-long furlough occurred in June. There are significant concerns that the public-access operation might be forced to study other cutbacks before the fiscal year concludes.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the situation on Feb. 23.


A part of me feels special now that I've received my legally mandated letter from some legal firm outlining the steps faced by radio cluster Citadel in its bankruptcy proceedings.

Why do I feel special? It isn't so much the general blah-blah of typical legal mumbo-jumbo, nor is it the page-long list of creditors, nor is it the knowledge from said letter that Citadel faces a meeting of creditors in bankruptcy court on Feb. 22 in New York City.

I think I feel special largely because I got the same letter twice. It's almost like they really cared. Or maybe they just overextended themselves on their postage—kind of like the way they overextended themselves when they purchased ABC Radio. Who knew that racking up massive lines of debt wasn't the best course of action?

Oh, wait. Apparently nobody in business knew that in 2006.

Citadel, um, owns (?) and operates (?) five radio stations in Tucson, including KIIM FM 99.5, the top-rated station in the market. I work (?) for Citadel as the UA football and basketball pregame and postgame co-host on KCUB AM 1290.

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