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Sun Newspapers Downsizes Its Editorial Staff

New Owners May Be in The Cards for La Jolla Light, Chula Vista Star-News

Editorial prospects seem a bit clouded for the four Sun Newspapers in North County, whose full-time news staff was recently laid off.

General manager William Harrison, whose family owns the San Marcos-based weeklies, said that the newspapers will continue to cover community news. He declined to comment further.

Harrison confirmed that he had “let go of some staff,” but would not discuss the papers’ current employee status.

Editor Maria Foster and sports editor Jeff Pack were recently let go, sources say. The paper’s part-time reporter is also out, reports also say.

In August 1998, Bill and Gloria Harrison’s CCRR Publishing Co., Inc. bought the papers, which include the Coastal Sun, Vista Sun, Carlsbad Sun and San Marcos Sun, for an undisclosed price. At the time, the papers had been shut down by their owner, Crystal City, Mo.-based US Media Group. The Harrisons made their son William the papers’ manager.

CCRR, based in San Bernardino, also publishes four papers in San Bernardino County.

The Sun papers have the local contracts for state-required advertising for businesses, such as legal notices. It reportedly generates a significant part of the papers’ income.

The papers tend to run 16-20 pages each week, Harrison said. Their editorial/advertising ratio fluctuates, often from 50-50 to 35-65, he said.

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Community Papers Sold?: On another note, sources say that former Sun papers owner US Media has found buyers for the La Jolla Light, Chula Vista Star-News and some of the other papers it owns in Southern California.

The deal, which involves two local buyers, is expected to close next month, sources say.

The papers involved include the Light, Star-News, the Log Newspapers, the Seal Beach Sun and the Catalina Islander.

The sale will not include the Californian, based in El Cajon, sources say. The Californian recently downsized its staff and reduced publication days from six to two.

La Jolla Light publisher Evan Israel did not want to comment on whether the papers were being sold. He confirmed negotiations are ongoing, that there are “interested parties,” but nothing had been finalized.

Buzz: Big Bang Idea Engineering in San Diego recently hired Craig Evans, who had been creative director at Di Zinno-Thompson Integrated Marketing Solutions. Evans, who had been with Di Zinno for five years, will be a partner and co-creative director at Big Bang.

At Downtown-based Di Zinno, assistant creative director Rob Petrie was promoted to creative director. Petrie has been with the agency for eight years.

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Stay Tuned: Michael Tuck, a former anchor with KFMB Channel 8 and KGTV Channel 10, will be on KFMB airwaves again on Feb. 2, a station spokeswoman said.

Tuck, who will be at the CBS affiliate’s offices to work on investigative stories starting Jan. 17, will co-anchor the evening newscasts at 5 and 11 p.m. with Denise Yamada.

Graham Ledger, who currently anchors with Yamada, has not yet been reassigned but will continue with the station, the spokeswoman said.

Tuck was with KFMB from 1978 to 1984, then had a six-year stint at KGTV until his move to KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

Last summer, reports said the L.A. station took Tuck and his co-anchor off the air in an effort to revamp the low-rated news program.

Incidentally, KCBS is the new home of former KUSI-TV Channel 51 reporter Mike Castellucci, who left last fall to do feature segments at the L.A. CBS affiliate. Castellucci’s features are called “Our Man Mike.”

Status Chart, Media: Solutions Media, Inc. has moved its headquarters from San Diego to Carlsbad. … Carlsbad-based JM Television Productions created the opening sequences and edited multiple segments for CBS special “Phil Simms’ All-Iron Team,” which aired Christmas Day. Local talk station KOGO-AM recently launched a “Talk to the Mayor” series during its morning shows, in which Susan Golding answers listeners’ phone calls. The next installment will take place Feb. 10.

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Taste for Afternoon News?: For the first time, KFMB’s 4 p.m. newscast recently edged KGTV’s broadcast of “Oprah” in the ratings race, according to KFMB representatives.

The 4 p.m. newscast, currently anchored by Judy Hsu and Sandra Maas, was launched July 1995. “The Oprah Winfrey Show” had been on the air since the fall of ’87.

During the most recent sweeps in November, KFMB’s newscast scored a 4.92 rating (percentage of television households in the 920,000-household San Diego market), and Oprah had a 4.88. Both had a 13 share (percentage of household TVs turned on at the time).

The ratings averages from last month, specifically Dec. 6 through Jan. 2, show a slight gain for the 4 p.m. newscast. It had a 5.3 rating with a 14 share, while Oprah had a 4.7 rating with a 12 share.

Status Chart, Marketing: El Cajon-based G. Cole Davis & Associates was recently hired by locally based D.A. Shields General Contracting. Di Zinno-Thompson recently signed La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and locally based developer Intracorp. Singleton/Baroni was recently hired by Santa Ana-based Superior Manufacturing Co. and locally based Penny Realty. Berkman Communications was hired by Orange County-based VillageDoc.com. Bailey/Gardiner signed homebuilding company Kaufman & Broad and Reliance Development Group. Chapman Warwick recently moved to new offices in Hillcrest, a block away from its previous location. Locally based Ubrandit.com recently signed its 4,440 users of its E-commerce, Internet marketing programs, a rep said. Helen Baker was recently hired as the executive director of the Advertising Club of San Diego. Baker was previously executive director of the Greater San Diego Business Association. Former director Barbara Waddle moved to Los Angeles to be with family.

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Future Sites: Expect more to come from the Web site for the North County Times, said the paper’s online editor, Andrew Kleske.

Although the Escondido-based Times doesn’t run its regular daily news on the site, the paper recently put its staff and wire coverage of Y2K online.

As of late, the paper has also brought its columnists and other features online.

The online classified ads have been redesigned, and a calendar listing has been made easier to maintain and update, Kleske said. There are further plans to make the site more interactive, he said.

The deadline for the next media & marketing column is Jan. 27. Rodrigues can be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 107 or via E-mail at (trodrigues@sdbj.com).

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