KOLD Channel 13 has split up the city's longest-running anchor team--at least for one newscast.
The local CBS affiliate has reassigned Barbara Grijalva to the field for the station's evening newscasts. Grijalva--who has been with KOLD since 1983, almost exclusively in an anchor capacity, where she has been paired with 20-year employee Mindy Blake--landed added reporting responsibilities as part of a cost-cutting effort.
"It was more the timing of certain things and the decisions we had to make in terms of spreading our resources as far as we can," said KOLD general manager Jim Arnold. "We're certainly not expanding staff. Frankly, I don't know of any television station in the country that is."
(Coincidentally, Belo-owned Fox affiliate KMSB Channel 11 is a rare exception. It has added personnel to its more localized 9 p.m. newscast, which was unveiled last Wednesday, Aug. 20.)
"Every day, I read there's another company cutting back on staff," Arnold continued. "(KOLD parent company) Raycom has had minimal cutbacks, but it's utilizing the resources. We've had a reporter position open for a long time, and we were looking for the best ways to fill that, and we came to the conclusion that Barbara would be the one who could get it done. She's a great resource for our station."
In addition to reporting from the field, Grijalva will handle health segments. She'll continue her anchor role alongside Blake during the station's noon news.
The move also allows KOLD to move a primetime anchor into the vacated 5 p.m. slot: Dan Marries is now behind the desk for three newscasts.
"The other stations have their main male anchors (Tom McNamara at KVOA Channel 4 and Guy Atchley at KGUN Channel 9) doing 5, 6 and 10," Arnold said. "It was a logical move to put Dan in there. Heather (Rowe, who anchors the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts alongside Marries) has her "Animal Defenders" (news feature) franchise. Dan doesn't have a franchise, even though he's an excellent reporter and does quite a few stories for us. It seemed the most logical move for us."
Grijalva is a rare breed. A non-nomadic broadcaster, her remarkably stable career began in radio. After graduating from the UA, Grijalva worked in news departments at KIKX AM 580 and KNST AM 940--KIKX lost its license in the 1980s, and KNST moved frequencies to 790--prior to her transition to local TV.
"There will be people who are used to watching Barbara (on the 5 p.m. newscast)," Arnold said. "What I'm trying to do is make people realize that Barbara's not going away. In fact, she's going to be out in the field doing stories live in the 5 and the 6 (slots). It all boils down to television stations must utilize all the resources they can to make their product better. I think there is a difference in having someone with the wealth of experience, (the) knowledge of this market and the reporting skills to have her locked behind a desk for two newscasts a day. I think we're missing an opportunity."
Grijalva did not return an e-mail asking for comment.
KGUN GETS A NEW FACESergio Avila has joined the KGUN Channel 9 news crew. He handles general assignment reporting for the Journal-owned ABC affiliate.
HORNER WANTS TO DIG DEEPER THROUGH BLOGFormer KGUN Channel 9 general-assignment reporter Mark Horner has continued to maintain a news presence--now in the blogosphere--and it's clear by the name of his contribution he'd like to go a bit more in-depth than the time allotted to him when he was in local TV news allowed.
Horner pens beyond90seconds.com, a blog that by its title suggests the short-attention-span storytelling approach is not necessarily his fave--even though he was quite good at it during his now-stalled on-air career.
Through the blog, Horner--who parted ways with KGUN after refusing to sign a one-year contract in January--isn't just afforded the opportunity to go more in-depth. He also can take his news interests to other locales. In addition to tackling stories with a Tucson angles, he's pursued issues in New Mexico, where he used to work, and even as far north as British Columbia.
Horner has used the time to gather information on everything from the murder of Salpointe High School graduate Juliana Redding in Santa Monica to the fatal shooting of Tucson Police Department officer Erik Hite to a string of murders in Canada. "I'll be sitting at the laptop, and the next thing I know, I'll be talking with someone in another part of the world who is interested in a particular story," Horner said. "When you're in local news, you'll have people trying to reach you about a specific story, but you're out covering another story. When you're blogging, and you're at the computer calling me on the Skype line, I'm getting an education."
Horner keeps searching for opportunities to return to news in a paying capacity, but in the meantime, the blog has been an eye-opening experience for him regarding technological changes in the media.
"There are all types of blogs. A site like TMZ is clearly making money. I am the anti-TMZ--at least I'd like to think so," said Horner. "There's no doubt the traditional brick-and-mortar media is being impacted. I've heard all sorts of drastic predictions about the future of the media landscape. ... This is shaking up traditional brick-and-mortar media, and you'd better learn how to adapt."
JEFFRIES GETS NEW TITLE CHANGELong-time UA Wildcats play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries is now the director of broadcasting for IMG Tucson, the network that handles Arizona games on the radio.
In addition to maintaining his standing as the voice of the Wildcats, Jeffries will oversee the other talent related to English- and Spanish-language UA sports broadcasts.