TOUGH WEEK FOR TUCSON WEATHER PERSONALITIES
KVOA Channel 4 and KOLD Channel 13 have had to deal with separate incidents involving their chief meteorologists.
At KVOA, Rob Guarino was cited on suspicion of DUI when he was stopped shortly after 2 a.m. April 12 near Campbell Avenue and River Road. Guarino, who has worked at KVOA since 2011, got a vote of confidence from general manager Bill Shaw, who told the Arizona Daily Star that the weather personality's job was safe. "He's here, and he's going to be here moving forward."
Which brings up the issue of perceived inconsistency in the way KVOA has handled legal and ethical situations among its on-air staff in the past year or so.
To recap: In February 2012, Martha Vazquez, a news anchor who had worked at KVOA for 28 years, was forced to resign after a misdemeanor shoplifting incident. Her misdemeanor—Class 1—is the same type Guarino is charged with.
Notwithstanding that Vazquez took merchandise—while Guarino was behind the wheel of a vehicle—it seems hard to justify how Guarino would get the backing of KVOA management while an employee who worked there for nearly three decades was shown the door.
I have no problem with Shaw and KVOA management standing behind Guarino. People sometimes put themselves in bad situations. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The same is true for KVOA news anchor Allison Alexander—Vazquez's replacement—who was found in a potentially comprising situation with Tucson Fire Department spokesman Barrett Baker. TFD reprimanded Baker over the incident but Alexander remains employed in the same capacity at KVOA.
It seems hard to argue that Vazquez' misappropriation was any graver than what Guarino is charged with, or what Alexander was allegedly doing in a car with a man who was not her husband. But because Vasquez either made too much money, is Hispanic, or female, or too old, she appears to have been held to a different standard.
Is that not discrimination?
Meanwhile, KOLD meteorologist Chuck George is on what is at least his third extended leave of absence in the past two years.
The first one was in 2011, following an odd on-air segment in which George slurred his words. He then was off the air for a month and a half.
Recently, George has had some less-prominent odd moments on air, and a cursory search of YouTube includes a number of forecasts that probably would not be good nominees for a demo reel.
Word is that George was having trouble on the 9 p.m. news broadcast on Friday, April 5. Asked if these events were connected, KOLD general manager Debbie Bush said, "If you are planning on reporting that he had a problem that affected his performance on Friday night ... that would not be an accurate statement."
George, a normally active social media user, has been absent from his public Twitter and Facebook profiles since that date.
Standing behind employees in difficult times is an admirable trait. In the midst of what is now at least three extended leaves, it's safe to say George is going through a tough period.
Here's wishing George the best. He's a great ambassador to the community, well liked and usually damn good at his job. But if troubling issues arise with other employees, Raycom, which owns KOLD, should at the very least treat them with the same leeway and compassion it has afforded KOLD's chief meteorologist.
KAIN OUT AT AZPM
Speaking of how people are treated ... Jackie Kain is out as chief content officer at Arizona Public Media, and based on the tone of the internal memo announcing her departure, the separation doesn't seem particularly amicable.
"Ms. Kain's affiliation with AZPM effectively ends today, although she will continue to receive compensation and benefits for an additional 90 days," GM Jack Gibson wrote in the memo. "I hope you understand that I am not at liberty to discuss the details that led me to this decision. I know you will all join me in wishing Jackie all the best in her future endeavors."
Christopher Conover is AZPM's interim news director. A national search is under way to fill the vacancy.
According to her LinkedIn page, Kain has already transitioned to a media job in the L.A. area.
RYAN FINLEY TAKES OVER AS 'STAR' SPORTS EDITOR
Longtime Arizona Daily Star football beat writer Ryan Finley says change is good, and he's now in a position to oversee some of it as the paper's new sports editor.
He steps in for Shannon Conner, who has decided to take part-time responsibilities with the paper to focus more on family endeavors.
Daniel Berk is the Star's new UA football and baseball beat writer. Daniel Gaona is in charge of high school sports coverage. Irene McKisson, the Star's former night sports editor, is transitioning to her new role as social media editor.
Social media is the big buzz at the Star compound at Park and Irvington these days, and Finley's story in the Sunday paper announcing the changes to the sports section sheds some light on efforts to improve the Star's social media presence. There's a greater emphasis on apps and e-editions, and a laundry list of Twitter handles.
Finley spent seven years as the UA's football and basketball beat writer.