Citing personal issues and a change in priorities, Ray Depa has stepped down as general manager at KGUN Channel 9. He will be replaced by KGUN General Sales Manager Andrew Stewart.
"Over the last 12 months, it's been a very challenging period of time for my wife and myself," said Depa. "She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had an operation last April. Thankfully, we got it early. I lost my mother a few months later, then her brother died unexpectedly. In the midst of all that personal trauma, we went through an ownership change. All of these things got us to thinking about what was really important."
Depa says he is in the midst of searching out options, but ultimately wants to work out a schedule that will allow him to spend more time with his family, currently based in Lexington, Ky.
"It's the first day in 40 years I've been unemployed," Depa said. "I'm getting the office ready for Andrew Stewart. I can't be happier for Andrew. He's a great guy. We both came here together and worked together in the mid-'80s and early-'90s. We reunited in '99 when I came back as GM, and he came back as general sales manager. He's from Tucson--wonderful guy, wonderful family--(I'm) just real happy for him."
Depa says he and Stewart both had dreams of running the station.
"I've had my shot," Depa said. "Now, it's his turn."
Stewart inherits the top spot at a station that remains third in the news-ratings battle, but both men believe the pieces are in place to make a move.
"We're headed in the right direction," said Stewart. "We've recently hired some new talent, and (news anchor) Jennifer (Waddell) is receiving rave reviews from the community. We're entering a very positive direction. We're going to maybe speed things up a little bit to get to the position we want."
The day after Stewart's transition became official, KGUN hired a news director, a position left vacant since the end of last year when Fernando Lopez left to take a gig with ESPN. The local ABC affiliate coaxed Lena Sadiwskyj to make the jaunt down Interstate 10 from KTVK Channel 3 in Phoenix, where she acted as news producer.
"I'm very excited about the job," Sadiwskyj said. "This will be my fourth news director job. It just seemed to be a really terrific move. I like Arizona. The company, Journal (Broadcast Group), is an excellent company. They really care about news. They're committed to serving the viewers in their community. Everything kind of added up to say this was a great fit."
Sadiwskyj brings nearly 30 years of news experience with her. She began her career in Toronto before accepting a reporter's position in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her resume includes stints with two stations in Orlando, Fla., a station in Shreveport, La., and teaching duties at the University of Missouri.
"I've been a reporter; I worked the desk; I've been a producer; I've been an assistant news director, executive producer; I've taught at the University of Missouri's journalism school," Sadiwskyj said. "This has been my fourth news director role. I've sort of done all the jobs in the newsroom except for photographer and editor. I certainly don't know everything, but I think I have a good handle on what it takes to tell good stories and make a difference."
And Sadiwskyj believes she has the tools at her disposal necessary to help KGUN make the ratings jump.
"I think there is good talent there," Sadiwskyj said. "They're sincere, and they care. They're smart. They really want to win. We want to win breaking news; we want to win the weather; we want to give people the stories they don't see on every other station. There's some room to probably grow in the community. There's a lot of opportunity there."