Five days after being featured in this very column, Randy Garsee was fired from KOLD Channel 13. Upset with the handling of a situation involving a fellow employee over a banner for his scheduled news series, "Tucson Murals," Garsee sent out an internal e-mail detailing what he viewed as a continuation of the micromanaging practices of news director Michelle Germano.
That was Monday, Oct. 2. He was released the following day.
"As a manager, I don't make snap decisions," said KOLD Vice President/General Manager Jim Arnold.
This was the final straw in a long-running rift.
"The e-mail is just one stick on a woodpile," Garsee said. "There is more behind the e-mail than most people will ever know. This was a scream in the dark, a last gasp for certain people at the station to see, and question, the direction of the news product."
KOLD has lost numerous news personnel over the course of the last few months. Kris Pickel, who along with Garsee anchored the Best of TucsonTM-winning 6 and 10 p.m. news team, accepted a position in Sacramento, Calif. Sportscaster Arran Andersen works at the same Sacramento station. Erin Christiansen, formerly KOLD's No. 2 weather personality, jumped to KGUN Channel 9. Kaushal Patel is now anchoring in Dallas.
Garsee's removal also occurs at a critical time: November sweeps are coming, and this could be an interesting book as KOLD attempts to maintain its top spot in the market at a juncture when KVOA Channel 4 and KGUN have made aggressive moves to improve their stock.
"As far as making the change and moving forward, we are moving forward," Germano said. "We expect to have an announcement on our female anchor within the next week. You will see her, and I think our viewers will be very excited and pleased with that decision. We are now searching for a male anchor, and we have a plan in place going into the November book. The content of our show is king, and viewers will still be able to get whatever they want out of KOLD."
Meanwhile, Garsee, who spent 9 1/2 years at KOLD, is pursuing career options. He hopes to continue the mural endeavor. His blog on the subject is available for online perusal. He also maintains a personal blog. Not surprisingly, his recent dismissal has dominated conversation there.
REARDON EN ROUTE TO PORTLANDJack-of-all-trades news reporter Jennifer Reardon will ply her craft in Portland, Ore. During her tenure at KVOA, Reardon tackled numerous news-related roles. She handled general assignment reports during her last days at the local NBC affiliate, but she also spent a great deal of time as an anchor.
NO ROUNDTABLE FOR MOREDICHDuring football season, KMSB Channel 11 has expanded its 45-minute Sunday newscast to an hour. The extra 15 minutes, which takes the Fox affiliate's newscast's end from 9:45 to 10 p.m., features a roundtable segment with former UA football coach Larry Smith and a member of the local media. To date, Ryan Finley, the Wildcat football beat writer for the Arizona Daily Star, and Brad Allis, the editor of wildcatinsider.com, have made appearances. Hell, I even sat in on the Oct. 8 roundtable.
But notable by his absence is the beat writer who has covered Wildcat football with three publications over a 20-year span: John Moredich of the Tucson Citizen has not appeared on the segment.
"What I was told from the powers that be at this company is that this company works with the Arizona Daily Star and not the Tucson Citizen," said KMSB sports director Vinnie Vinzetta. "I don't know all the politics that go into this with all the TV stations and the Arizona Daily Star vs. Tucson Citizen, but when I investigated it, I was advised to work with the Daily Star. That came from management folks at KMSB, so that's what I did."
When the segment was in its initial planning stages, Moredich was the first person Vinzetta had in mind.
"I had developed a relationship with John on a more personal level than anybody else. That's not against anybody; I'm sure they're wonderful guys, but I had just gotten to know John," Vinzetta said. "We'll speak about X's and O's. He's a good guy, and I've enjoyed being around him. Those are the relationships that are so strange sometimes in media outlets."
Moredich has covered Arizona football almost consistently since 1987, when he was a reporter for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Shortly thereafter, he became the editor of Cat Tracks Magazine, a publication dedicated to UA athletics, before accepting a position with the Citizen.
CITADEL CYAIn August, Tucson's Citadel radio group required part-timers to sign indemnity clauses. Basically, this is a piece of paper stating personal responsibility should something the individual says lead to a reprimand from the Federal Communications Commission.
Indemnity clauses are part of the contract for full-time employees, but Citadel Tucson Market Manager Ken Kowalcek wanted to close the potentially costly loophole with part-time talent.
"The big thing that's going on is the FCC three or four months ago increased the fines from not very much to $325,000 per event," Kowalcek said. "If anybody says anything that's out of line with the FCC, it's $325,000. We can't afford to have anybody on the air at that fine level doing any of that, so that's why, particularly the part-timers, who don't have contracts, need to be responsible as well.
"If someone uses inappropriate language on the air, they're the ones who have to pay the fine, not me. I can't have anybody lock themselves in a studio and all of a sudden go on a rant and have them cost me. Everybody who cracks the mic will have to take responsibility."
Fortunately, should I decide to go on a profanity-laced rampage, the part-time windfall I receive from Citadel on KCUB AM 1290 ("The Source") should easily cover the expense.