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KMSB'S VINZETTA PREPS FOR MOVE TO SAN ANTONIO

For a guy in a nomadic profession, sportscaster Vinnie Vinzetta takes moving hard.

His almost-six-year relationship with KMSB Channel 11 will come to an end this week, and he'll then move to KENS in San Antonio, Texas. He says the last month has been filled with emotional turmoil.

"When I flew back on June 24, getting back on my connection from Denver after the interview, I'm not afraid to admit: I bawled like a baby," said Vinzetta, who grew up in Oklahoma. "It hit me and worked me over when I moved from Lubbock, Texas, to Tucson six years ago, but I didn't think this was going to hit me as hard as it did, and I had a hard time on the flight back. It really gut-checked me and confirmed to me that I love this place."

Vinzetta has been one of the most-valuable on-air pieces of the KMSB news cog. When the local Fox affiliate launched its 9 p.m. newscast, it used sports to separate itself from the local competition. Vinzetta hammered out the "Fox 11 Sports Force," the television market's only extended look at area athletics. In addition to nightly sports coverage, Vinzetta put together a 40-minute sportscast that aired every Sunday around 9:20 p.m.

"I sank my heart and soul into the 'Fox 11 Sports Force.' I was charged with building it, along with Brandon Nash and JP Harrington. We all had to fight and work through it together," Vinzetta said. "We may have hit some low points, as everybody does, but we damn sure hit some high points. I've done the best work of my life in Tucson.

"I could not have done it without Brad (Allis of wildcatsportsreport.com). I can't even measure what he's done for me. It wouldn't have been possible without Brandon Nash," who worked at KMSB for four years before leaving the profession and moving to the Northwest. "A lot of people. (UA baseball coach) Andy Lopez is like a second father to me. He's given me so much good advice away from the business. He and I for awhile attended the same church. I'll never forget Coach Lopez. He's a great man. (High school football coaches) Jay Campos from Sabino, Dennis Bene from Salpointe, Dusty Peace from CDO—I consider those guys friends of mine. I don't have time to name all of the coaches who have been good to me."

Vinzetta will be the No. 2 sports personality at KENS, which, like KMSB, is a Belo station—and he's making a 25-spot leap in market size.

"I'm excited about the opportunity, and I went through the process of communicating with the management folks in Tucson and am really fortunate that one of Belo's core values is promoting from within," Vinzetta said. "I was nervous and apprehensive about approaching them, but they were tremendous, and I want to give managing editor Bob Richardson and general manager Bob Simone a great deal of credit for supporting me in this endeavor. They were behind me from the get-go, and that means a lot and always will."

The summer transition should give KMSB time to find a replacement. In the interim, Kevin Lewis' workload will increase.

"Keeping talented people in our company is one of our priorities, and we are all delighted that this opportunity was there for Vinnie," said Bob Simone via e-mail. "We, along with our viewers and everyone associated with Tucson sports, will certainly miss him."

Whereas Tucson's athletic scene focuses a great deal on UA football and men's basketball, San Antonio has more of a professional flavor—even in light of the current labor uncertainty in the NBA and NFL—and is firmly enmeshed within the Texas high school football craze.

"It is an exciting sports market," Vinzetta said. "I know the NBA labor situation is ugly right now. Assuming the NFL gets back to work, they tell me on any given day, there could be 30,000 to 40,000 people at the Alamodome for Cowboys practice. It's just such a big deal in San Antonio for the Dallas Cowboys. There's the Spurs, the WNBA, UTSA football with Larry Coker, and we know high school football in Texas is a second religion. I assume there will be no shortage of activity, and I'm looking forward to it."

KENS has a direct connection with the University of Texas at San Antonio, which is making the leap to Division I football. Its head coach, Coker, had great early success at Miami before a lack of consistency brought an end to his tenure in 2006.

"It's going to be tough for UTSA starting in Division I, but hopefully they have some good direction with Coach Coker," Vinzetta said. "We'll be heavily involved with a tailgate show. There is going to be extensive coverage of high school football. We're the official Spurs station when they don't air on-network. I'm in the middle of a sports hub, and I'm excited."


LEE ENTERPRISES STOCK: SAY HELLO TO CLIFF

During the severe economic downturn, amid troubling concerns for the print-daily-newspaper model, Lee Enterprises, which owns the Arizona Daily Star, saw its stock value plummet to a low of about 30 cents a share.

But when the market rebounded, so did Lee—in a big way. Last year, the Davenport, Iowa, company enjoyed a stock value well above the $3 mark.

It remained on steady stock footing as recently as mid-April—but by the time mid-May arrived, company stock had plummeted from more than $3 per share to just more than $1. It has since dipped below the dollar threshold, and sat at an uninspiring 85 cents during the July 4 holiday weekend.

Lee—which laid off 23 marketing, information-technology and production employees at its largest newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, last week—suffered a reported loss of $1.5 million in the second quarter.

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