We Thank the Media for All Its Support This Summer

July 19, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Numerous media outlets have joined with the Downtown Tucson Partnership this summer to constantly remind the world that Downtown keeps on selling goods, services, food and good times during streetcar construction season.

“They are basically helping save Downtown in summer,” said Michael Keith, chief executive of the Downtown Tucson Partnership. “Every one of the them has stepped up to help Downtown business.”

Other than word of mouth and individual curiosity, the media is Downtown’s eyes and ears for the greater Tucson area.

“Obviously, the reach of the media is so significant,” Keith said. “It can result in enormous changes in behavior.”

The Partnership has closely collaborated with KXCI, KOLD, Zocalo, the Tucson Weekly, KUAZ, KVOI, Cox Communications, Foothills News, the Arizona Daily Star and the Fred and Jeff Show.

As more and more Tucsonans are won over by the Downtown renaissance, so too are media outlets.

“To me, it seems, the rhetoric in particular on radio shows is getting more even toned, particularly when it comes to the streetcar,” Keith said. “I think there’s a growing realization that this could be a major tool in the continuing revitalization of Downtown, 4th Avenue, Main Gate Square and the West Side.”

KOLD is the media sponsor for 2nd Saturdays for the second year in a row. And KOLD’s Fox Theatre camera atop the Providence Services Corp. building peeks in on Downtown nearly every day.

“Chuck George uses that camera for broadcast almost daily,” said Rhonda Walker, a KOLD sales account executive. “Downtown is mentioned quite a lot in our broadcasts.”

Walker is Downtown’s mother hen at KOLD.

“I live Downtown in the barrio in the old Elysian Grove Market,” Walker said. “I love it. I’ve always been a huge proponent of Downtown. I spoon feed, even beg them, to do things about Downtown.”

The Downtown Tucson Partnership shares all its news articles on the KOLD Downtown Tucson neighborhood page.

“It’s our most used neighborhood site,” Walker said.

Community radio KXCI 91.3 has its studio at 220 S. 4th Ave. So teaming up with the Partnership has come very easily for the station.

“We’re located Downtown,” said Randy Peterson, the KXCI’s  general manager. “It’s our neighborhood. It’s where we go to lunch. It’s personal for a bunch of us. Downtown businesses have been so supportive of us. So turnaround is fair play.”

The Ronstadt name has been synonymous with Downtown since Frederico Ronstadt arrived in town in 1882 and opened the Ronstadt hardware store in 1901.

“Our family has a huge history Downtown back to the late 1800s,” said his great grandson, Fred Ronstadt. “We had the last hardware store where the Ronstadt Transit Center is now. Those bricks in the arches came from our building.”

Ronstadt co-hosts the The Fred and Jeff Show on KZPT 104.1 and he’s bullish on Downtown. Every month, on the Sunday before 2nd Saturdays, they profile two Downtown players, such as the recent appearances of Liz Burden, president of the Warehouse Arts Management Organization, and Sparkroot/Xoom Juice owner Ari Shapiro.

“Our goal is to promote Downtown,” Ronstadt said. “We want to see our Downtown succeed. We want the heart of our community to be vibrant. We’re trying to showcase the fact that people are putting their money where their mouth is. We’re going to crow about it once a month.”

Downtown is always on the front burner for the Tucson Weekly, even though its “world headquarters” is off Valencia Road.

“It’s literally the heart of the city. That’s where a lot of Tucson’s culture is. Downtown is vital,” Tucson Weekly editor Jimmy Boegle said. “Downtown is important to the Tucson Weekly. Lots of what we cover is Downtown. We cover a lot of the local music scene Downtown and on 4th Avenue. We do the Tucson Area Music Awards. We don’t make any money with that. We ran a guest commentary from Michael Keith. We’ve got a pretty good relationship with the Downtown Tucson Partnership.”

Cox Business, an arm of Cox Communications, has targeted Downtown as one of its key areas of investment.

“In the next 16 months, we are expanding our infrastructure and upgrading data transportation and speed to accommodate ever increasing size and speed,” said Pam Crim, Cox Business’s business director of sales for Southern Arizona.

“Here’s the scoop: We’ve been very fortunate to have successful years,” Crim said. “We are one of the leading providers of communication requirements for the business community. We have decided to embrace the renewal process of Downtown. We want the community to know Cox media is in.”

Cox realizes the value of Downtown and also its vulnerability with the streetcar construction.

“We recognize the significance of what’s happening in Downtown,” Crim said. “Small businesses Downtown are in jeopardy. We wanted to reach out. We put together (public service announcements) and marketing plans to support smaller businesses.

“There’s boundless opportunity. Because we’ve enjoyed success, we’re now in a position to be more aggressive.”

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to all of our media partners who stepped up this summer,” said Michael Keith. “Their dedication to their community continues to make a difference for the small businesses that are the backbone of revitalization efforts Downtown.”

(full disclosure: Lisa Lovallo, Cox Communications Vice President, chairs the Downtown Tucson Partnership board of directors.)