Fox affiliate KMSB Channel 11 will abandon the in-house production of its nightly newscast on Feb. 1—but that doesn’t mean news will vacate the 9 p.m. timeslot. Instead, KMSB’s 9 p.m. newscast will originate from KOLD Channel 13’s studios.
KMSB on-air and production staff members were told about the changes during a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, where they were also told their employment status is uncertain, at best.
As part of the arrangement, Belo, KMSB’s parent company, will maintain a sales staff, but the hiring of talent and production personnel will be made by KOLD and its parent company, Raycom.
Additionally, KOLD will create a morning-news show to air from 7 to 9 a.m. on KMSB, according to sources.
It was suggested during the meeting with KMSB staffers that KOLD would need to make hires in order to produce the two additional newscasts—but there were no guarantees that the likes of news anchor Lou Raguse, weather personality Gina Trunzo or sportscaster David Kelly would be part of the transition. All told, the change affects about 20 people in front of the camera and behind the scenes who work on KMSB’s news product.
“Under the agreement, KMSB and KTTU will continue to control, manage and program the stations and sell all on-air advertising,” according to a press release. “KOLD-TV will, by contract, provide certain services to support the operations of KMSB and KTTU (TV 18), including producing local news in high definition, in-depth weather, traffic and sports, and website administration.”
This is the latest in a tumultuous series of events since Bob Simone replaced Tod Smith as Belo’s Tucson general manager two years ago. Simone came into the market with lofty expectations, and early in his tenure, he announced plans to launch a four-hour, locally produced morning-news block. That goal never materialized.
He also approved the funding for news-studio improvements at KMSB’s Sixth Avenue offices. The studio has been built, but was never actually used. As a result, the KMSB news product looks low-budget when compared to the market’s other three local-news operations. KMSB has also endured a number of personnel departures on the news end within the last few months.
This is KMSB’s second shared-news arrangement. When KMSB announced it was launching the nightly newscast, it entered into a shared-content deal with KVOA Channel 4, but that was severed shortly after Bill Shaw took over as GM of the NBC affiliate.