Returning news director to reintroduce KGUN 9 Viewer Bill of Rights - Inside Tucson Business: Media Watch

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Returning news director to reintroduce KGUN 9 Viewer Bill of Rights

INSIDE MEDIA: Jennie sans Blake

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Posted: Friday, September 18, 2009 12:00 am

Breaking news, this just in: The man who put KGUN 9 on “our side” is back. Forrest Carr has returned to KGUN 9 as news director. 

The station made the announcement last week. Carr, who officially started on the job Sept. 8, replaces Lena Sadiwskyj, who left the station last month after nearly 3½ years as news director.

Carr had been KGUN’s news director from 1997 to 2001 during which time he launched the “On Your Side” focus, which the station adhered to until shortly after he quit in 2001 to become the news director at the NBC affiliate in Tampa, Fla., where he previously had been assistant news director.

While most every TV station uses a slogan to brand and position itself with viewers — KOLD 13 is “Live, Local, Late Breaking” and KVOA 4 is “Balanced news you can count on” — Carr’s version of “On Your Side” seeks to be a broader  viewer advocacy program.

As part of his return, Carr said he will reintroduce a “Viewers Bill of Rights” like the station had when he was here previously. It sets out ethical standards for the station to meet.

“It’s the concept of viewer advocacy,” Carr explains. “To give voice to the voiceless, we will champion the rights of everyday people to be heard in our democracy and we’ll help those who hold power to be accountable.”

He admits that sounds “like high wind in the trees journalism talk but it’s something I’m very passionate about. It’s a way of life and we’re going to live it.”

When asked if the mantra might be confused with the cable news channels style of political journalism, Carr said KGUN’s bias won’t be one of right- or left-leaning politics but will be a bias for believers of democracy.

“It’s the old line we’re not going to tell you how you should think, but we will tell you what you should be thinking about,” Carr says, adding that when KGUN covers an issue it’s not just two sides; there are many sides.

He relates a story of an incident that happened to anchorman Guy Atchley shortly after the “On Your Side” effort was originally launched. A worker spotted the anchorman and yelled out to him “you’re Guy Atchley” and came after him. At first Atchley said he didn’t know what to expect but the man told him “‘9 On Your Side’ keep it up.”

After Carr left in 2001, KGUN’s then owner Emmis Communications adopted a branding strategy using the slogan “Clear, Accurate, To the Point” but it never seemed to catch on, or resonate with viewers.

In research done four years later, after Journal Broadcast Group had acquired KGUN, more viewers still identified the station as “On Your Side” and responded favorably to it even though it was no longer being used so the decision was made to come back to it.

In his time away from Tucson, Carr spent three years in Tampa, leaving after a disagreement with other management. He then went to Fort Myers, Fla., to be the news director at the Fox affiliate, which had been acquired by the Journal Broadcast Group in December 2005, the same time it was buying KGUN. He started making his way back west last year, taking the job as news director at the CBS station in Albuquerque.

He and his wife, Deborah, have been married for 24 years.

“It’s great to be back, I’ve never before been more welcomed at a job,” Carr said. “We’re going to make this work.”

Blake out at The Mountain

The Mountain KWFM 92.9-FM is looking for a new partner to team up with Jennie Grabel after a parting of the ways with former co-host Blake Rogers after the Labor Day weekend. 

As is usually the case, Clear Channel management won’t comment on the situation other than to say they are looking for a new co-host.

Word has it that the professional relationship between the two had become strained to the point that Grabel was refusing to work with Rogers. Grabel had been the solo host of the morning show from the time The Mountain signed on in January 2004 until Rogers, who was the assistant program director and afternoon host, was teamed with her in April 2006.

Grabel also serves as The Mountain’s music director.

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

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