KOLD-KMSB DEAL SETS OFF A SERIES OF MOVES
Less than a month remains before Raycom-owned KOLD Channel 13 takes over the production of Belo-owned KMSB Channel 11's news broadcasts, and KOLD has nabbed a number of KMSB employees who will remain on board under the Raycom umbrella.
Belo signed what is called a shared-services agreement with Raycom: Belo will pay Raycom to produce the news product and handle other production responsibilities from the KOLD studios, as of Feb. 1. Per the deal, KOLD has hired some of the people who are/were part of Belo's news operation.
Some former KMSB employees are finding spots at other local stations, such as anchor/reporter Marcelino Benito (KGUN Channel 9) and reporter Samantha Ptashkin (KVOA Channel 4).
Viewers of the current KMSB news product will recognize a fair number of people moving to Raycom, including Gina Trunzo, David Kelly (sports), Cuyler Diggs (part-time weather) and Kevin Adger (reporter), among others. Trunzo will transition to a prominent role on KMSB's new local morning-news program, where she will team up with Mark Stine and meteorologist Erin Jordan on Fox 11 Daybreak, from 7 to 9 am.
Some familiar KOLD faces have locked down positions on the new Raycom-produced Channel 11 9 p.m. newscast. Scott Kilbury is saying goodbye to his split-shift anchoring duties, leaving the KOLD morning show seat for the solo anchor slot on KMSB at 9. Kilbury will continue his co-anchor role alongside Heather Rowe for KOLD's 4 p.m. newscast. Meteorologist Aaron Pickering will handle weather responsibilities at 9.
Stine steps into Kilbury's morning anchor position on KOLD from 4:30 to 7.
The most noteworthy on-air name lost in the mix is Lou Raguse, who has anchored the 9 p.m. newscast on KMSB for almost its entire run. Raguse says he is pursuing options, perhaps outside of the market, and is optimistic about some leads. Sportscaster Kevin Lewis will likely leave the market.
It's safe to say the new-look, KOLD-produced KMSB newscasts will feature a dramatic upgrade from the dreary, standard-def visuals provided by the current product. The newscasts had been exiled to an old studio, and employees were never able to utilize the equipment and resources promised by a more-modern studio construction project that mysteriously remained off-limits.
One big decision that execs with the KOLD-produced 9 p.m. news product will have to face immediately: Will KMSB's 1,000-day countdown to Arizona's centennial continue, or will that ambitious, almost-three-year-long project be scrapped just 14 days short of the finish line?
TV NEWS-RATINGS REMAIN CLOSE
All three major local television-news providers could find something positive in the ratings for their shows, released just before the holidays.
Other than KOLD Channel 13's dominant performance at 10 p.m., the numbers show strong competition among the three network affiliates. At 10 p.m. weeknights, KOLD registered a 9.0 rating vs. KGUN Channel 9's 6.0 and KVOA Channel 4's 5.1. Many observers argue that 10 p.m. newscasts ratings are often the result of how the networks are doing in prime time, but regardless, KOLD has reason to be pleased.
In other news slots, the ratings numbers are significantly closer. A 6 p.m., just one-tenth of a percentage point separated KGUN (5.0), KVOA (5.0) and KOLD (4.9). That's about as close as you can get in the second-most-important window for local news.
KVOA led the way at 5 p.m. with a 6.2 rating, compared with KGUN's 5.8 and KOLD's 5.6. In the two-station race at 4 p.m., KVOA's more-established news product beat KOLD's entrant, 2.9 to 2.2. This is the time slot that KOLD used to dominate because of its ties with The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, on KGUN, is the ratings winner in that slot.
KVOA won the two-station news battle at noon with a 3.8 rating, compared with KOLD's 2.9. KOLD delivered better numbers in the morning-news block.
MEYER NEW NEWS VOICE FOR JOURNAL RADIO
Chuck Meyer, who for nearly six years handled program-director duties at then-Citadel-owned (now Cumulus-owned) KCUB AM 1290, is the new morning-news presence for three stations in the Journal Broadcast Group cluster.
Meyer provides top- and bottom-of-the-hour news cut-ins for talk station KQTH 104.1 FM, and twice-an-hour news updates for the cluster's ratings linchpin KMXZ FM 94.9, aka MIXfm, and KTGV FM 106.3, aka The Groove.
"The job is about three-fourths radio and one-fourth Web producing for KGUN," said Meyer of what is technically a position at KGUN Channel 9. The TV station is also owned by Journal.
Having the stereotypical radio voice has not been a requirement for working in the profession for quite a few years. Meyer, however, has enviable pipes, and brings an immediate command of delivery to the cluster's newsbreaks.
Not to mention a command of the format.
"This is something I've done in the past," Meyer said. "I've been a news director before. I've been doing the hour-long newscast and news-anchor (format) wheels for most of my career. When I was a news director in Miami, we were doing two newscasts in the morning every hour, and in the afternoon and midday. I've handled the news end in news-intensive news/talk stations. Spot-radio news is something I've been familiar with over the years. It's nice to go back to it."
Meyer took a year off after leaving the program-director job at KCUB (which employs me for UA football and men's basketball pregame and postgame broadcasts). At KCUB, he also co-hosted a morning-news block alongside Mike Rapp. Before coming to Tucson, Meyer had similar responsibilities at a radio station in Austin, Texas.
"To be immersed in this again is nice," Meyer said. "I knew I missed it."