Chalk one up for a media company that this week outfoxed Wall Street vultures who now will have to fly away to try to feed on another carcass.

In this case, Lee Enterprises, parent company of the Arizona Daily Star and 48 other newspapers, sold $1.05 billion in high-yield notes - also known as junk bonds - to refinance debt that is coming due in 2012 and 2013.

The vulture terminology comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal which reported this week the bond sale "thwarted the plans of a flock of ‘vulture' investors" that had been buying up Lee Enterprises' debt for a fraction of what it was worth figuring the company was circling the drain on a bankruptcy filing and that would get them an ownership stake in the company.

Thanks to others on Wall Street greedy to invest in risky companies, Lee Enterprises beat the vultures who now must be satisfied with simply being paid in full on the debt they're owed, even though they bought it last year when the median price was 25 percent less than it was worth.

In other words, they stand to gain 25 percent interest.

The Wall Street Journal article said Lee Enterprises' "demise looked so inevitable that some of the investors (in its debt) even conferred two months ago to discuss the most favorable ways to restructure the company." And when one of the investors found out last month about the junk bond sale, he called one of Lee Enterprises' bankers to berate them for sabotaging their plans.

Lee Enterprises isn't out of the woods. The newly sold junk bonds will mature in 2017 and 2018 at much higher interest rates.

The company, headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, has been trying to reduce its debt load, which is primarily a result of its $1.46 billion acquisition of the former Pulitzer newspaper chain in 2005 that included the Arizona Daily Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As of the end of March, Lee Enterprises said it had its debt down to $878.8 million plus another $147 million it owes on former Pultizer debt.

Buckmaster changes channels

After four months on the air, Bill Buckmaster is moving his hour-long weekday radio show to a new home.

Starting June 1, the radio show will air at noon on the Voice KVOI 1030-AM in Tucson, and on KAPR 930-AM in Douglas and KJAA 1240-AM in Globe.

He'll finish out the next two weeks on the Jolt KJLL 1330-AM, where the show has been airing live at 9 a.m. weekdays since Jan. 3. During May, Buckmaster says he's going to work with advertising clients and line up additional guests and regular contributors for the new show.

"I'm really excited about this," Buckmaster said. "Part of our business plan from the very beginning was to try to syndicate this show to a wider audience and with this move we can reach an audience in at least eight counties all across Southern Arizona to the New Mexico border and even into Mexico. You can even listen to this station almost all the way to Sky Harbor (airport in Phoenix)."

Buckmaster had hosted "Arizona Illustrated" on KUAT-TV 6 for nearly 22 years and left that job in November to pursue the radio show. He said he's been extremely pleased with the response from listeners who appreciate his informative and interview-driven style.

"I'm having a ball. You can keep notes at hand and not have to worry so much about looking into the camera plus, you don't have to wear that high-definition make-up," Buckmaster said.

Another plus is that the noon-time broadcast means his show will air at a time when more people are in their cars and can listen. It's also easier for guests to stop by.

He said that idea came from Doug Martin, president and general manager, of the group that owns KVOI, KAPR and KJAA.

Buckmaster said he leaves the Jolt with no ill-feelings.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity John C. Scott has given me and I think he understands the reasons and is supportive of the move," he said.

Short takes

• Ten years ago this month, Johnjay Van Es and Rich Berra started their morning radio show on KRQ 93.7-FM and the duo celebrated that fact April 8, even though the "Johnjay and Rich Show" now originates in Phoenix. The anniversary show included congratulations calls from celebrity guests including Paula Abdul and Enrique Iglesias.

• Long-time media types might remember the name Mike Cutchall from the days when he helped launch KRQ in the 1970s.

The former Tucsonan - and 1968 grad from Palo Verde High School - made news this week where it was announced he's the CEO of Riviera Broadcasting, a group formed by Yucaipa Companies and Magic Johnson Enterprises to buy three radio stations in Phoenix and is looking for more.

• KOLD News 13's chief meteorologist Chuck George has established a scholarship fund at Pima Community College, where he is an adjunct professor.

Named the Archimedes Scholarship for the Greek "father of science," the scholarship is open to students demonstrating financial need majoring in any scientific discipline. They must be enrolled in at least 6 credits, start out with a 3.5 grade point average and maintain at 3.25 GPA, and who demonstrate financial need.

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