JD Wallace spent his formative years in Tucson. His parents still live in the same home they've owned since 1989. They watched KOLD's 10 o'clock news.
So once Wallace got an opportunity to work for the station, he jumped at it.
"I got used to seeing Mindy (Blake) and Barbara (Grijalva), Bud (Foster), Jim Becker, so when I showed up in 2003 and some of them were in (my first news) meeting, I told myself I wasn't going to get star struck, but I was still taken aback that I'm in a room with people I've seen on television for years," said Wallace who also singled out long-term working relationships with a number of photographers, including multiple Emmy-award winner Paul Durrant and fellow reporter Som Lisaius.
Wallace left KOLD last month to become the new Communications, Social Media and Marketing Administrator for Arizona G&T Cooperatives.
"A big component is to build a social media presence," Wallace said. "Facebook is still the heavy hitter. The reason is we want to connect to the members more, and social media has provided that avenue in addition to us doing our own publishing of the member cooperatives. This is a way to reach out to them and keep them interested, and that the cooperatives understand our members. We understand social media provides that two-way conversation in real time."
KOLD, now under the umbrella of Tucson News Now (it also handles local news for KMSB TV 11), was something of a pioneer in the city's social media landscape. Now it's a second nature expectation for all media outlets, but KOLD was the first to intensely embrace the transition.
Beyond that on-the-job experience, benefited by the need for more companies to enhance their social media profile, Wallace anticipates the ability to use his skillset effectively into his new role, a role he pursued because the timing was right.
"I was looking for that new thing to go to," the soon-to-be 38-year-old Wallace said. "I went back to school for some undergraduate stuff for physics and chemistry. I was considering going into medicine. Last year, I was with some doctors in Nicaragua and then discovered it wasn't about the work, but about the time. Was I really prepared to spend eight years to go into something completely different? That was the point I realized I wanted to use and develop the skills I have in a different way."
Twelve years in the newsroom naturally creates plenty of stories and lot of memories, but for Wallace two specific incidents come to mind. The Dr. Bradley Stidham murder-for-hire trials showcased the importance of connecting with the viewer.
"I learned during those trials the responsibility we have as journalists to pick out what's interesting as opposed to simply telling viewers or readers what happened," Wallace said. "I could have gone through a laundry list of witnesses and what they did throughout the day in a timeline of events, but you start to realize what's in your control to tell the viewers a story to keep them interested and to understand what's important in that courtroom. You're the one watching it for them.
"It's not just your responsibility to be accurate; it's your responsibility to be interesting. That's something I was told way back in college. At ASU, one of the presidents of a local TV station came in and asked the class, 'What's the most important thing?' I raised my hand and said, 'it has to be accurate.' He said, 'you're right, but I'm also looking for you to say interesting, because if you have an accurate story and nobody cares about it, what good did it do because nobody paid attention.'"
Wallace also got tased.
"A standard taser is five seconds," Wallace said. "(KVOA reporter Lupita Murrilo) did it for three, so I said I guess I've got to do it for five. They put the glasses on and two members of SWAT helped me up. They said some guys who have this happen curl up in the corner and scream like a girl, so great, now I have to make sure I don't come off as a total wimp. He drew on me, and the photographer, who said I wanted the full treatment, looked behind the camera and said this is a bad idea. It led the newscast and I think caught my mother by surprise."
Other KOLD departures
Behind the scenes, the local CBS affiliate is in the market for two openings. Long-time audio production guru Louie Molina retired Friday after 42 years at the station. Some in the KOLD building refer to him as a living history book.
Meanwhile, Mark Herman has accepted a newscast directing position with WKRN TV, the ABC affiliate in Nashville.
Lee hires new CFO
Ronald Mayo will handle Vice-President, CFO and Treasurer duties for Lee Enterprises, the Davenport, Iowa publishing company that owns and operates the Arizona Daily Star.
Mayo was the chief financial officer for Halifax Media Group until it got acquired by the New Media Investment Group. Before that, Mayo spent 19 years with MediaNews Group, 12 as CFO.
"This is an exciting time to join Lee Enterprises, a company I have long admired for its strong operational reputation and its fiscal discipline," said Mayo in the obligatory press release quote, which not surprisingly didn't include and reference to the "fiscal discipline" Lee undertook in its over-expansion phase last decade that led to the publisher's bankruptcy. "I look forward to joining the talented management team and contributing to the company's future success while serving Lee's investors and shareholders."