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AZ Week Notebook


When it comes to broadcasting, I can find NPR on the car radio and have almost mastered the TV remote control, fully capable of setting it to digitally record and eventually play back a wide range of programs. Those skills were the extent of my broadcasting experience, until very recently.

"We can teach you the broadcasting part," Arizona Public Media News Director Peter Michaels said in our early discussions about my taking on the Arizona Week gig.

Indeed, the teaching and subsequent learning are big, big parts of it, all designed to bring good journalism to the fore.

Each day, I spend considerable time in front of the camera and lights practicing being natural as I read my scripts on the Teleprompter. Each day, a patient studio crew critiques, coaches and encourages me en route to the program's debut on Jan. 14.

Today, we added a new element. I spent nearly an hour in a closed-loop radio booth wearing a headset that allowed me to hear my voice the way others hear it. I worked to replace my monotone with inflection and the somewhat leisurely cadence of my speech with something approaching the subtly urgent tone that newscasters have. I read the script over and over, until my voice was on the edge of hoarseness.

All the practice has as its goal my ability to put my best face and voice forward when we go on the air a week from Friday.


We have been planning the first Arizona Week program for a good while, lining up interviews, journalistic expertise and a myriad other details. From Day 1, the program's topic was signed and sealed as the state budget crisis.

That's a no brainer, because with the program debuting Jan. 14, we knew we would have a week's worth of developments, starting on Monday with Gov. Jan Brewer's State of the State speech and the convening of the Legislature. Later in the week -- perhaps Wednesday or Thursday -- the governor would release her budget proposal, including plans for dealing with $2.25 billion in deficits spread over the next 18 months.

Lo and behold, the governor's office has announced that the budget proposal will be released on Friday, Jan. 14, the day of our first program. To have that kind of news for our debut program seems kismet, and we plan to make the most of it.

Look for in-depth reporting on the budget, followed by reactions of legislative leaders and finally the analysis of knowledgeable journalists.

It ought to be an auspicious start to Arizona Week.

Arizona Legislature State-of-the-State-speech,


Each Friday night edition of Arizona Week will conclude with the reading of selected comments from viewers. We will air what you have to say that is relevant to the topic at hand.

Comments will be taken from among those we receive over the course of the week between editions. We want criticism as well as compliments, and we will plan to proportion what we air based on overall numbers. For example, if a given program or topic receives six comments, with four critical and two complimentary, we likely will air two critical comments and one complimentary.

Like the letters to the editor section of newspaper editorial pages, our airing of viewer comments will serve as an added forum for discussion of the important topics we plan to cover. And, at times, the comments may become fodder for conversation in this blog.

Keep your comments on topic, and make them civil and suitable for television. Please sign your name, although not doing so won't necessarily preclude the airing of a relevant comment.

E-mail comments to me at or go to and click "about" in the gray bar, then click "contact."

Letters-to-the-editor viewer-comments,


Arizona Public Media Director of News and Information Peter Michaels will head to Phoenix with me on Tuesday, as we lay groundwork for the debut of Arizona Week, now just 11 days away.

Peter and I will meet with journalists at the Arizona Republic and at the Arizona Capitol Times to discuss their participation in AZ Week's reporters' segment, which we plan as the way to end the program.

We have secured Luige del Puerto of the Capitol Times for the first program; he covers the state Senate. We hope to have word by Tuesday afternoon on an Arizona Republic journalist to appear with Luige.

As part of the overall mission to bring depth to issues affecting all of Arizona, we will include journalists from throughout the state on the program. The trip to Phoenix on Tuesday is the first outreach in that effort.

Eventually, we plan to have knowledgeable journalists from Flagstaff, Yuma, Kingman and Eastern Arizona as well as from the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas available for commentary and analysis on the program.

Arizona Capitol Times Arizona Republic Eastern Arizona Luige del Puerto,


Seventeen days until Arizona Week launches on KUAT-TV, and we are deep into the preparations. Today's production meeting included:

-- Discussions of how we provide "connectivity" with studios in Phoenix to allow for timely interviews with state capital newsmakers and journalists.

-- Review of the graphic elements for the program, including those that will appear on the set and in the transitions between segments.

-- Theme music for the program's opening. It needs to sound "newsy," everyone agreed.

-- Whom we are lining up for newsmaker spots and the journalists' panel on the first program.

Many people at Arizona Public Media are working on these elements to make the first program and all subsequent programs strong and appealing. Yet in the end, AZPM Director and General Manager Jack Gibson said, what will make the difference is the journalism at the core of the program.

Agreed. And we are working hard on that. Stay tuned for your chance to take part in what we're doing.


Arizona Week's first program on Jan. 14 will focus on the state's budget issues. In that, the week of Gov. Jan Brewer's State of the State address and the opening of the legislative session, we will explore the depths of what is clearly a dire fiscal situation.

Legislators must cut $825 million from the current fiscal year's budget, and do it quickly. Then they must turn around and construct a budget for 2011-12 that will take another $1.4 billion from where they end up for this fiscal year. That's a total of $2.25 billion in cuts for the next 18 months, or 23 percent less than the current fiscal year's original operating expenditures, as enumerated by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

On the Jan. 14 program, we will ask the governor and legislative leaders how they plan to make those cuts, and how the cuts will affect you and me. We have asked for an interview with Brewer, and we have confirmed an interview with Senate President-Elect Russell Pearce.

After hearing what they have to say, we will ask two veteran journalists to analyze and comment on the plans and what the impact will be. We'll let you know who those journalists are as soon as we confirm with them for the Jan. 14 program.

It will without a doubt be an important program to watch, as we strive to explain the fiscal situation and the consequences of what the Legislature and the governor must do.

Arizona Legislature,

About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.