When Dave Hatfield accepted a communications position with Pima County government, the magnitude of that career decision did not go unnoticed.
"You always hear the stories about the last-minute jitters," said Hatfield, who concludes his stint as the editor of Wick-owned Inside Tucson Business this week. "If there's one thing I'm having last-minute jitters about it's that ... I won't be as involved."
Hatfield has been an integral part of Tucson's media scene for close to 40 years in a career that has spanned traditional print media and television. During the print media runs, as a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star and then much later with ITB, he wrote a media column that became the standard for this market.
If you were involved in Tucson media for any length of time you knew Hatfield, and most of the significant players in this market are on a first-name basis with him to this day.
Hatfield got his start in local television in central California, where he helped to change the set of the station's lone studio for various local programming ventures. He'd assist in the makeover for a local version of American Bandstand, and then rush to create a setting for a Mickey Mouse Club-type show. He would make additional changes for news presentation, and even set things up for a popular professional wrestling program that aired once a week.
"People would line up around the block to watch wrestling," Hatfield said.
Although Hatfield majored in broadcasting in college, he had more success landing newspaper gigs, and that's what brought him to the Daily Star in the '70s. He started as a political reporter, but transitioned to media reporter when the paper added an entertainment section.
Eventually, he left the paper for KOLD Channel 13, but hated the experience and soon returned to the Star. He figured that would probably be the end of his television career, but a couple of years later KVOA Channel 4 coaxed him back. He was at the NBC affiliate for 21 years, including the station's legendary high-water mark, when it dominated the local news ratings.
"It was a great time. It was a great station, and I had a great run," Hatfield said. "I had a lot of fun."
Eventually, Hatfield made the jump to Inside Tucson Business, where he was able to resurrect his media column as an add-on to editor duties. That has kept him in touch with an industry that is trying to find itself in the midst of a massive transition that is changing the landscape for television and print.
"The TV thing has changed, but stations are still going for record prices," Hatfield said. "This Gannett buyout of Belo is huge, so some people see something going on. On the other hand, when you look at being able to capture the online digital news audience, newspapers have done a way better job. Nobody has done a good job, but they're finally coming around to monetizing it. Newspapers are finally getting people to pay for it."
As for the positives of the tech media revolution, sports fans can generally rejoice.
"By sheer choices, it's got to be better, right?" Hatfield said. "I don't think there's an NCAA game on the weekend you can't see on live TV. It used to be you watched whatever the one network that had a contract would play. There would be weeks the UA wouldn't be on."
Hatfield is not as thrilled with what programming saturation has done to the political reporting model.
"I think the part that isn't any better is the 24-hour cable channels and this whole political news agenda thing," he said. "Just tell me the news. I guess that's why I still like printed newspaper, the idea that news is on at 5, 6 and 10 at night ... but it doesn't go beyond that with a lot of speculation. I guess that makes me sound old."
As Hatfield embarks on his own transition, he'll need to get accustomed to some nontraditional concepts. Such as, this whole government working-hours thing.
"Where I live there are some nice Sun Tran buses, and one of the things (about the new job) is the county doesn't pay for downtown parking, but it subsidizes its employees to ride the bus. But the last bus that goes to my neighborhood leaves downtown at 5:10. The boss said, well, you'll just have to leave on time. I've never had a job where you left because the clock said it was time for you to leave," Hatfield said.
CUYLER DIGGS MOVES CROSSTOWN
Meteorologist Cuyler Diggs has joined KGUN Channel 9. Diggs most recently worked at KMSB and KOLD. He will handle weekend shifts and fill-in roles. KGUN has also added Jessica Flynn as news producer for the 10 p.m. weeknights broadcast. Flynn, a Cal-State Northridge grad, worked in a news content producer role for KNBC in Los Angeles.
UA grad Krystin Sorich has been hired by KGUN and will begin her on-air reporting responsibilities by the beginning of October.
LUCAS NEW HOLLYWOOD AT HOME HOST
PBS affiliate KUAT Channel 6 has hired Victoria Lucas to host its Hollywood at Home movie program on Saturday nights. Lucas, a 20-year film industry veteran, will provide historical context, behind-the-scenes information and trivia during her segments.