PARISI SAYS HE'S CLOSE TO NEW TALK-RADIO VENTURE
Talk-radio veteran Jim Parisi is like a lot of members of the medium: frustrated with the direction of the industry. And like a lot of members of the medium, he thinks he can do something better than what the current model is providing. Unlike other members of the medium, he may be putting himself in position to do something about it.
Parisi, who has hosted morning talk shows on KNST 790 AM and KVOI 1030 AM, says he expects to be in position to land the funding necessary to purchase a radio station, and through that signal launch a locally driven talk format.
"I could bury myself with this line, but I think this will be the least traditional talk station Tucson has ever seen," Parisi said.
Why? Because Parisi is sick of the partisan talk model.
"It doesn't have to be politics every second of your life," Parisi said. "The question I get from highly intelligent investors is always the same. I've been told the only way to get ratings is to be angry, superpartisan or tee people off. My answer is always the same. It can be done in a straightforward, honest, journalistic way, but it's harder. You have to have more life experience. You need people who get it. You have to be funny, edgy, maybe a little sarcastic, self-deprecating."
And, if Parisi has his druthers, hosts not tainted by the habits garnered from a traditional radio background.
"The people I have semi-promised slots are real interesting people more than talk-show hosts," Parisi said. "They command presence in a room. They speak in public, face the tough questions and just gather a crowd when they talk. That's what I think will be the buzz."
Due to nondisclosure requirements while negotiations are under way, Parisi declined to go into specifics about the stations he and his investor group have targeted, or whether they are on the AM or FM band. But he did say he initially eyed four possible signals and has since pared that number to two. If he gets financial confirmation from investors, which he thinks might happen as soon as this week, Parisi said he could launch the project within the next few months.
He also believes market trends have opened a window that can be beneficial to the venture.
"When The Truth (KQTH 104.1 FM) came out in 2007, that took guts. They were up against six talk stations," Parisi said. "(But since then) KNST pulled the signal from its FM (97.1), which makes them appear to be pulling back instead of growing. The Truth has leveled off; there's nothing on (1330 KJLL AM/KWFM) The Jolt. (KVOI) just put a national host who's a relative unknown in the morning. Now is the time."
KNST is running promotional liners that proclaim its place as the market's heritage station—meaning the station that listeners will automatically tune to should a major story occur locally. But despite the efforts of morning news director Paul Birmingham, one can argue that the station lost the "heritage" mantle when it continued to try to fool listeners with news and traffic updates piped in from a service in Phoenix.
"There are a lot of stations in larger markets that still carry the heritage tag and they're still No. 1," Parisi said. "Tucson management has let that get away. The big cities have that station and listeners go to that station when something happens. It's time for someone to be the new heritage station in Tucson, Arizona. I don't mean with partisan talk, but the station you turn to if there's a big story. You need that place you can go where the hosts are actually journalists. They'll talk to the police and fire chief and mayor and you'll know they know what's going on and, therefore, as a listener you'll know you have a place to go. That doesn't exist now."
Parisi plans to speak more in-depth about the status of his project on Friday, July 12, during a marathon broadcast from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at his Internet location, powertalkmedia.com.
SHERLOCK, KERRIGAN ENDING DECADES OF SERVICE
Fran Sherlock retired in June, ending a run at KUAT and Arizona Public Media that began in 1968. He took a summer job assisting with the wiring of a color television transmitter on Mount Bigelow, later went to school at the UA and landed a full-time gig behind the scenes in 1972.
An Emmy winner for his work on The Desert Speaks, Sherlock hired many of the students who used KUAT as their introduction to the broadcast profession.
"I was able to build successful teams," Sherlock told the UA Office of Communications in a feature story about his retirement. "I enjoy seeing a student or a producer really blossom."
Meanwhile, longtime KVOA Channel 4 operations manager Dave Kerrigan has announced he will leave the station at year's end. Kerrigan's 36-year Tucson stint spans the production-based positions at KOLD and at KVOA, where he has experienced three ownership changes, according to Dave Hatfield's "Inside Media" column at Inside Tucson Business.
LEE STOCK SOARS
Despite its position as a print organization that still has looming, significant debt, investors are liking what they're seeing from Lee Enterprises, the Davenport, Iowa-based publishing company that owns and operates the Arizona Daily Star.
During the downturn in the market, Lee stock spent months below the New York Stock Exchange's price threshold of $1 per share. Once the market stabilized, it hovered just above a $1 per share, but last month it blew through the $2 barrier.
Lee stock was at $2.32 a share when markets opened Monday.