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BLAKE ENDS QUARTER-CENTURY TENURE AT KOLD

During her nearly 25-year run at KOLD Channel 13, Mindy Blake became one of the most-recognized and most-popular anchors in local television news.

Her role at the station concludes Friday, Dec. 14.

"I just got to a point in my life where I wanted to do other things," said Blake, who will become the Amphitheater School District's communications director in January. "I've been in broadcasting since I graduated from college. I've been very fortunate that I've had the same career that I've loved, and I still love, but I want to try something else. I want to (have) a positive impact on the community and give back. I had been thinking about it for a while. My children went to Amphi schools, and the opportunity came up, and I thought this could be for me."

Mindy Blake
  • Mindy Blake

Given the nomadic world of broadcasting, people don't generally enter the profession with their sights set on one location—and Tucson didn't seem like it would be a long-term gig for Blake.

"When we came to Tucson almost 25 years ago, we thought, 'Oh, we'll be here for two years and then move back to Colorado, and work in Denver,'" Blake said. "But the city and people here made it very easy to stay. So here I am, and I worked about every show and shift at the station. I've enjoyed every part of it."

Occasional changes in the schedule helped lead to her lengthy tenure.

"I always had opportunities to grow here, and that's what kept me here," Blake said. "There were always new challenges at the station in terms of anchoring different shows. News can be different every day. You don't know what's going to happen when you walk through that door, and you have to be prepared for it. I was in positions where I could do that, and do live reports."

In an internal memo announcing Blake's move, KOLD news director Michelle Germano referred to Blake as a "newsroom leader" and "mentor" to many in the department. Those traits came to the fore during coverage of the Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting.

"Jan. 8 was an example where we all came together, (with) nobody expecting anything like that would ever happen in Tucson," Blake said. "When it did, we all kicked into gear and used our journalistic roots. (You) start from there and get the information out, and that's the most important thing."

Blake also reflected on the many newsmakers she has spoken with along the way.

"I've had the opportunity to meet and interview so many interesting people over the years, from musicians to politicians," she said. "One year, I was sent to Washington, D.C., to cover the free-trade agreement. I ran into Ross Perot and interviewed him, and Ted Kennedy. That was eye-opening, being in the nation's capital during such a huge event.

Blake said the highlight of her career was covering Mother Teresa's visit to Phoenix in 1989.

"She had a gathering at the airport. We were far away from her, and the children from one of her orphanages were gathered around her, and my photographer and I stayed back and got the pictures we needed," Blake said. "She handed something to a little boy and pointed to where we were, and that little boy made his way back to where we were and handed me a St. Christopher medal that she gave to him to give to me. I still have that. To have that opportunity was really incredible."

JEFFRIES DOING DOUBLE DUTY

When the UA football and men's basketball schedules overlap at this time of the year, there's always the possibility that the teams will have games on the same day. And while Brian Jeffries is a talented play-by-play broadcaster, he hasn't quite perfected the concept of cloning himself. So when there's an overlap, Jeffries usually has to choose one of the games, and then find someone to cover the other sport.

In 2008, when the Arizona football team went to a bowl game for the first time in a decade, Jeffries had the good fortune of broadcasting a UA basketball and football game in the same city. That was in Las Vegas. Arizona faced UNLV on the hardwood in the early afternoon, then knocked off BYU's football team on a cold night at the Las Vegas Bowl.

But when both teams play on the same day in different cities, it's a bit tougher, which might make this Saturday, Dec. 15, something of a first: Jeffries plans on broadcasting a UA football game and a UA basketball game that day—and doing it in two different states.

The Arizona football team kicks off the bowl season Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Gilden New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. Depending on the length of the game and his postgame responsibilities, Jeffries could be on the air past 3 p.m. However, he should have enough time to get back to Tucson on a charter flight and be ready to broadcast the biggest game on the basketball team's nonconference schedule—an 8 p.m. matchup with No. 5 Florida at McKale Center. The network pregame show begins at 7.

Both games will be broadcast on UA flagship radio station KCUB 1290 AM and KHYT 107.5 FM. Should you be a true glutton for all things Wildcats, Rob Lantz, Brad Allis and myself will begin our football pregame coverage at 7 a.m. on 1290, gab for a few hours between the football and basketball games, and return for a nightcap that should keep us on the air until about 1 a.m.

Give us a call, and say hello if you're out and about. We may need the company.

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