Todd Lawley, an upper-management fixture in Tucson radio for nearly 10 years, has cut his ties with Citadel in favor of a new venture, and the search is on for signals on the West Coast. Lawley's first order of business was a $90 million purchase of seven radio stations in Fresno, Calif.
"I decided to go out and form my own broadcasting company, Peak Broadcasting, and my partners are an investment firm out of San Francisco, Duff Ackerman and Goodrich. They have Tucson ties. They used to own KRQ (FM 93.7), KWFM, KNST (AM 790) and KCEE when it was Prism Radio," Lawley said. (Clear Channel now operates those signals.) "They currently own television stations and other companies throughout the United States. We got together and went after the CBS acquisition in Fresno. Those stations bill approximately two times what Citadel bills in Tucson, and Citadel is the No. 1 local biller. It's a big outfit, 130 full-time employees. That's our first acquisition. We are currently looking at several more."
Lawley was Tucson general sales manager for Prism and Clear Channel before jumping to Citadel, where he acted as general manager of that company's five local stations prior to a promotion that vaulted him to No. 3 in the company. He was instrumental in wresting the UA sports package away from long-time radio home KNST AM 790, to the tune of $1 million a year.
Lawley looks for Peak to be a player in rising West Coast markets.
"It's a great opportunity right now," Lawley said. "We're looking at what I call Consolidation 2.0. The first consolidation was through that 1996 to 1999 period, and now you're seeing a deconsolidation with some of these larger companies, and that offers great opportunities for people like me to acquire and operate these clusters. That's our strategy, to obtain clusters in markets from 30 through 100 in fast-growing Western markets with an emphasis on country, news-talk and (adult-contemporary formats)."
Lawley left Tucson for Fresno last week, and he hopes to take some good sports mojo with him.
"I got here the Sunday night prior to the (UA men's basketball team) winning the national championship," Lawley said. "My first day of work was the Monday when we beat Kentucky. One of the things I'm going to miss more than anything is UA basketball. I sat in those seats a long time. Saw a lot of great games. I've got to figure out how to get that Dish package so I can watch a lot of Wildcats basketball, but my station has the rights to Fresno State, so I guess I'll be a Bulldog fan now."
KMSB'S TRUNZO GETS ACCLIMATED TO TUCSONKMSB Channel 11 has added entertainment reporter Gina Trunzo to its on-air roster. A native of Florida, Trunzo was most recently employed in an on-air/entertainment reporter capacity with WCWG in Greensboro, N.C.
"This job as entertainment reporter brought me to Tucson, because it's an awesome opportunity," said Trunzo. "I've never lived on the West Coast, and half the fun about having a job like I have is being able to take advantage of traveling and seeing new places. The opportunity in this job was totally cut out for me. It was something I knew I couldn't pass up. I've never been to Arizona before. I've been here a month, and it's amazing; it's awesome."
The Fox affiliate hopes to capitalize on that newbie perspective as it gradually introduces Trunzo to the KMSB viewing audience. She is currently preparing a special called Tucson's Treasures, set to air Dec. 29.
"It's a half-hour show profiling the coolest things in this area through a newcomer's eyes," Trunzo said. "I think people forget that no matter where you live, there are a lot of neat, cool things to appreciate in their own backyard. For me to come in and see these things and point things out, the things I've learned since putting together this show, I've had people say, 'Wow, I've lived here 10 years, and I've never gone and done that. I've never seen that.' We have one of the world's largest astronomy observatories. We have museums that are world-renowned. People have lived here forever and forget to go see these things. They hear about them all the time, but they never go out and see the stuff."
She's admittedly not a hard-news person, and gets much more enjoyment from highlighting a city's numerous entertainment options.
"I like doing feature stories and getting out in the community and doing the stuff you don't always get to see in a regular newscast, because reporters and anchors don't always get to talk about all the cool stuff where you live, and what's happening around you," Trunzo said. "With me, I hope they see someone who likes to go out and about, and they'd like to do those same things, too: 'I'd like to go to this restaurant, go to this festival, because they're talking about it. That's something that looks fun.' I think a lot of times in hard news, we hear about all the sad stuff going on, and there's good stuff too. Lots of good stuff."