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Media Watch

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VAZQUEZ, RATHBURN OUT

Martha Vazquez stepped down from KVOA Channel 4 on Monday, Feb. 13, following a weekend shoplifting incident at the Tucson Mall.

Vazquez was the anchor of KVOA's 4 p.m. weekday newscast and had spent nearly 26 years with the organization.

Her departure comes on the heels of another noteworthy station separation. Sandy Rathbun, who enjoyed one of the longest recent tenures of any TV reporter in the market, has also parted ways with KVOA, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Rathbun did not respond to requests for comment, and KVOA refuses to comment on employee situations. But word is that health issues made it difficult for Rathbun to carry out the station's new reporter duties. When KVOA transitioned to a new reporting approach that requires reporters to shoot and edit their own video, the burden of lugging around equipment became problematic.

As a result, KVOA parted ways with a reporter who has somewhere in the neighborhood of three decades of on-air experience in the market. The station can now replace Rathbun with someone relatively new to the business who doesn't command the salary that comes with being at the same station for the better part of 30 years.


KMSB'S SIMONE LANDS POSITION IN LANSING

Following his stint as general manager at Belo's Tucson operation that began with the construction of a studio that was never used, and concluded with the dissolution of in-house news operations, Bob Simone has accepted a GM position with WLNS in Lansing, Mich.

It is Simone's fourth television GM stint. In addition to Belo-owned KMSB Channel 11 and KTTU Channel 18 in Tucson, Simone operated stations in Denver and Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, former KMSB news director Bob Richardson is transitioning to a consultant role. Richardson has launched RAR Productions, a company that will help businesses and organizations with issues such as handling news media, crisis management, event production and political messaging.


RADIO GUY OEHLER LANDS TV GIG AT KGUN

It looks as though the Journal Broadcast Group has decided to go in-house—or, more specifically, down the hall—as it transitions after the departure of longtime sportscaster Dave Silver to his eventual replacement at KGUN Channel 9.

In addition to giving Jake Knapp a more-prominent role at the sports desk, management has pegged radio personality Jody Oehler to occupy the chair during Knapp's days off, at least for the time being.

Oehler is the host of The Happy Hour, which airs weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. on Journal-owned KFFN AM 1490/FM 104.9.

Oehler has been working behind the scenes for a few weeks to learn the nuances of the position, but has previously made numerous television appearances on KGUN's Morning Blend sponsor-driven talk show.

The plan was to also include general-assignment reporter Jessica Chapin in the mix, but for now, she has transitioned to weather fill-in duties while chief meteorologist Erin Christiansen recovers from valley fever. Christiansen is tentatively scheduled to return later this month.


GOAZCATS.COM LOSES UA MEDIA ACCESS

Sports website goazcats.com was stripped of its media credentials by the UA when university officials discovered that Jim Storey remained part of the outfit.

Storey is persona non grata at the university following his involvement in a basketball tournament, the Arizona Cactus Classic, which played a significant role in recruiting violations that cost the men's basketball team scholarships and led to other NCAA-imposed sanctions.

The Cactus Classic was an Amateur Athletic Union high school basketball tournament conducted at McKale Center. A letter to booster-club members that carried the electronic signature of former UA basketball coach Lute Olson requested financial assistance to help Storey maintain operation of the tournament. That and other violations resulted in the NCAA sanctions.

At the time, Storey operated goazcats.com, a website dedicated to coverage of UA sports. Storey said he would sever ties with the website, at which point goazcats.com would again have media access to games and press conferences. Upon discovery of Storey's continued involvement, the UA revoked those privileges.

"The credential issued to ... goazcats.com has been suspended," said Tom Duddleston Jr., the UA Athletics media-relations director, via email. "Our compliance people evaluated papers which showed James F. Storey as the current owner of goazcats.com. The dissociation from UA Athletics extends to enterprises he operates."


SUPERFAN FEATURED IN FOOTBALL AD MAY LOSE HIS PRIME SEAT

The UA recently placed an advertisement in regional phone books as part of its football season-ticket push. The ad says "Join the Wildcat Nation," and prominently features an intense-looking fan wearing a blue UA hardhat and red attire.

The fan is Nate Ratey, who for years lined up along the south end zone and cheered like a maniac for his Wildcats. Ratey, who has worked behind the scenes at KUAT Channel 6, KGUN Channel 9 and KCUB AM 1290 (which is where he and I became acquainted; I work there on UA pregame and postgame shows), has been named the "Fan of the Game" too many times to count.

However, Ratey, who now teaches at a local elementary school, became a casualty of UA construction upgrades last year, when the university had to relocate fans as part of the south end zone scoreboard project.

With a new seating formula possibly in the works, Ratey, the UA's poster boy for fanatical devotion, may now have to showcase that dedication from a less-prominent part of Arizona Stadium.

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