FRANZI ON THE MOVEPolitical piranha and former Tucson Weekly automatic weapons editor (and current contributor) Emil Franzi is moving his radio talk show, Inside Track, from KTKT to KJLL, "The Jolt." Don't put it past the disgruntled Franzi to borrow Danny DeVito's line when Taxi switched networks: "Same time, better station."
The show will continue to air 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. "The difference being," says Franzi, "that The Jolt is a talk radio station, and it has an audience."
KTKT, 990 AM, has plenty of talking, but over the past several months, it has shifted its emphasis from call-in chat-fests and pundit platforms to straight news. Franzi, who previously had a weekday show on the station, got bumped to weekends (along with John C. Scott) when KTKT switched its weekday programming to CNN news.
In February, KTKT dropped CNN in favor of a feed from The Associated Press. "AP has a product designed for radio," explains station manager Steve Groesbeck. "CNN was always making visual references, and that doesn't work very well for us.
"We've hired three or four people on air; we're doing live local news, and so now we have a blended news product. It's all news now, other than a long-form program (Scott) does on weekends, and our local community service programming."
Franzi harrumphs, "They do PSA (free public service announcement) after PSA, because they don't have any (paid) spots. Their book is flatter than last year's beer."
Groesbeck disputes Franzi's claim that his station has no listeners. "Our first Arbitrend (a ratings report) was pretty positive," he says. "I think we're 20th now out of 28 stations in this market. And we anticipate that growing over the next year, with the elections. I think the market is big enough to support us."
Meanwhile, luring Franzi to The Jolt, 1330 AM, is part of general manager Pat Johnston's campaign to load up his schedule with all the top talkers.
"We've got Don Imus, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Phil Hendrie, Tom Leykis--I've got the top 10 nationally syndicated shows, along with probably all the top local radio personalities," Johnston boasts. The local lineup, besides Franzi, includes Fred Imus (Don's brother) and restaurateur Alan Zeman.
Johnston recently doubled his station's physical space, and says his audience increased 38 percent last year. "People are tired of listening to 'Smoke on the Water' and 'Stairway to Heaven' 100 times," he says of his growing listenership. "Our audience is sophisticated people, lawyers, attorneys, Baby Boomers who want to be informed but also want to be entertained."
Franzi is taking his token "liberal" sidekicks, Tom Danehy and Mike Tully, with him to The Jolt. His first show there is July 3; his final shows on KTKT are this weekend.
"At least that's the plan," Franzi says. "There's always the possibility that KTKT could say, 'Just get the fuck out of here now.'"