Cuts at Star and Explorer; changes at KOLD and KLPX - Inside Tucson Business: Media Watch

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Cuts at Star and Explorer; changes at KOLD and KLPX

INSIDE MEDIA: Shakeups all over the region

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2007 12:00 am

Big shake-ups in print media last week. Plans to trim product coming out of the Arizona Daily Star were revealed along with word that 11 newsroom employees were being laid off. That came on the heels of word the Explorer, the independent weekly newspaper serving the northwest side, had been sold and staffers there were let go.

At the Star, the cuts are a result of slumping advertising sales and the real-estate downturn, according to the newspaper’s own report. John Humenik, publisher and editor, announced the cuts in a newsroom meeting Dec. 5 saying the newspaper needed to reduce costs.

Newsroom employees said they were surprised by the announcement but outside the newsroom, a community leader who asked not to be identified, said Humenik had talked two months ago of cutbacks the newspaper would make around the end of the year.

One rumor among Star staffers was that a decision by Jim Click Automotive to cut back its advertising played a large role in the Star’s decision to lay off employees.

Rich Moret

"I’ll admit it, we have cut our advertising budget, we did that in October," Moret said. "But it’s not like people will notice it that much. Where we used to have three pages of advertising we now have two."

He said the entire auto industry has cut back on advertising.

"We’ve cut our advertising to meet our sales expectations," Moret said. "The fact is the slowdown in the home building industry is affecting us more than we thought it would. Sales are slow. They’re not terrible by the way, they’re just slow."

Those who were let go were asked to sign confidentiality agreements and the Star did not publicly identify them. At least three of those dismissed worked as copy editors, including George Campbell, who managed the news copy desk, and Jane See White, who was responsible for combing the wire services for national and world news. Other departures included news assistants and at least one reporter. According to the annual Star 200 report of employment earlier this year, 11 employees would represent about 6.5 percent of its 169-member newsroom staff.

As for the product cutbacks, a memo distributed to department managers included these, all apparently effective immediately:

ân¶ Online websites for zoned pub-

lications have been eliminated.

ân¶ The business section will be reduced to

one page on Mondays and put on

the back page of the Accent section.

ân¶ The op-ed page is eliminated

on Saturdays.

ân¶ The McClatchy and Scripps

news services are eliminated

ân¶ High school webcasts are eliminated.

ân¶ The Sunday TV Week and At Home

sections are reduced in size.

ân¶ Locally produced features Mapping the

News and the children’s feature BYO

Brain are eliminated.

ân¶ The annual Star 200 and Student

Achievers sections will be smaller.

…at the

Late the afternoon of Nov. 30, staffers at the Explorer were called to an emergency meeting at which time Publisher Melanie Larson and Chief Financial Officer Terry Brashear announced they had sold the 50,000-circulation weekly on the northwest side. The new owner is Thirteenth Street Media Inc., based in Boulder, Colo.

The purchase price was not announced. The previous owners had been actively looking to sell the newspaper for at least two months due to some health concerns that had recurred recently with Larson.

Before the weekend was over, editor Dan Stebbins was let go along with reporter Eric Beidel.

Dan Perry

Thirteenth Street Media is headed by Randy Miller, who is publisher of The Colorado Daily in Boulder.

Names in news

ân¶ On top of the other things that happened last week at the Star, staffers were told John Humenik was named a Group Publisher for Lee Enterprises, which means his responsibilities now also include overseeing the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff and The Garden Island on Kauai, Hawaii.

ân¶ Mark Arminio joined KOLD 13 last week as general sales manager replacing Adam Weyne, who left the station in November after four years. Arminio came from Lansing, Mich., where he was a TV station general manager. Before that he worked as a general sales manager in Nashville, Tenn.; local sales manager in Fresno, Calif.; and a team sales leader at KABC in Los Angeles. No word yet, on where Weyne – one of the good guys – is headed. He came here in 2003 from Greensboro, N.C., where he had been a local sales manager.

ân¶ If, as some say, things happen in threes, Tucson morning radio hosts can breathe a sigh of relief. The third morning radio show in a month has been whacked. As of Nov. 30, Jonas Hunter and Andy Taylor are gone from KLPX 96.1-FM. Scott Barnett is moving from mid-days to take over the morning shift. Steve Groesbeck, market manager for Arizona Lotus, said it was a tough decision because both Hunter and Taylor had a long history with the station "but the show wasn’t growing." Earlier in November Brad Behan was removed from Mix-FM’s KMXZ 94.9-FM’s Bobby & Brad show and C.K. was dumped for poor ratings on Hot 98.3 KOHT 98.3-FM.

ân¶ Win an Emmy, leave town. That’s what Amber Lyon has done. Lyon, who did live reports on the morning "Tucson Today" program on KVOA 4 left the station as of Nov. 28. She is off to Costa Rica where she will be in a Spanish-language immersion program living with a family for a month and then go to a small town in Guatemala to attend another intensive Spanish language school and volunteer in an orphanage. Lyon told staffers she decided on this new chapter in her life because in doing news stories about illegal immigration "I had so many questions, yet couldn’t get all the answers because I wasn’t fluent in Spanish." Lyon won a regional Rocky Mountain Emmy Award in September for her live reporting.

ân¶ Don Imus is back – if you subscribe to either DirecTV or Dish Network. He made his return Dec. 3 on 18 radio stations. ABC is in charge of syndicating the show. In Tucson Ken Kowalcek, market manager for Citadel, which owns ABC, has said he would like to air Imus on one of his stations but it depends on the terms of the deal. So far, he said there have been no talks. But RFD-TV is carrying the show on TV live from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays. RFD-TV is on DirecTV channel 379 and Dish Network channel 231. Neither Cox or Comcast cable offer the channel.


Contact David Hatfield at or (520) 295-4237. Inside Tucson Media appears weekly.

was named the Explorer’s new publisher and editor. Perry comes from Wyoming where he has edited newspapers in both Riverton and Rawlins. , president of Moret-Click Advertising, was not at all happy to hear that Click might be made the fall-guy. And he literally chocked when it was suggested some had said Click was cutting his advertising budget in half. Explorer

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