Seeking an edge over the competition, KVOA-Channel 4 put together a network of remote-controlled HD cameras throughout the city to capture live footage of news as it occurs.
News 4 Tucson Skynet lets the station instantly pull up footage of traffic problems, weather and other news as it breaks.
Jeff Clemons, KVOA's marketing director, said the system, which went online April 25, gives the station access to footage others might need a helicopter to get.
"We're able to scan the streets for pretty much whatever's out there."
Clemons said he's not aware of any negative legal ramifications of having the system in place.
"Anybody can put up a camera. It's what you do with that camera," Clemons said. "We have a strict policy in place for what it's used for. Who uses the camera and the monitoring of it. It's pretty well spelled out to employees."
Clemons said there was fierce debate at KVOA over whether or not to stick with the Skynet name, which happens to match that of the evil artificial intelligence organization that battles humanity in the "Terminator" films.
"The line we kept coming back to was that was a movie; this is not," Clemons said.
The cameras can rotate 360 degrees, tilt up and down and are equipped with windshield wipers. Clemons would not say how many cameras there are or how much money KVOA invested in the project.
Clemons said he's not sure if KVOA is the first to implement such a system, but he said it was the brainchild of KVOA President and General Manager Bill Shaw. The vision was that KVOA could use the system for footage of breaking news quicker than competitors.
"When breaking news happens, we've got to get a news crew to the scene, and that takes 'X' amount of time," Clemons said. "We're hoping to cut that time down to an instant."
While KGUN-Channel 9 would not comment on Skynet, KOLD-Channel 13 Vice President and General Manager Debbie Bush said she doesn't feel as though the system gives KVOA an edge over KOLD's camera network.
"We now both have camera systems," Bush said via email. "It's a significant investment for both of us. … And it's great for the viewers of Southern Arizona."
Justice back on the air
After undergoing his second open-heart surgery since 2009, conservative KQTH 104.1-FM talk show host Jon Justice returned to the air April 25 - two weeks after he went under the knife.
Justice has been broadcasting the show from his home, and expects to be cleared to drive this week, with plans to return to the studio May 14.
"Having had one open-heart surgery already, I knew what expect this second time around," Justice said by email. "The recovery, while easier this time because I am in much better physical shape this time, is still lengthy. Doing the show from home makes it easier because I stay up a little later, sleep in a little later, and as soon as the show is over at 10 a.m. I can rest. Ultimately I miss being in-studio and the vibe it creates that you just can't duplicate being at home."
Top brass turnover at Clear Channel
Tucson's branch of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is chugging along with vacancies at its top two executive spots.
According to Inside Tucson Business, Shanna McCoy, the group's market manager, left April 19, while Director of Sales Steve Clement has transferred to Clear Channel's Phoenix location, leaving sales manager Rodney Shepherd in charge for now.
"Shanna McCoy is no longer with the company, and we have not yet named a new market manager or interim market manager," Clear Channel spokesperson Shira Mahler said by email.
UA film students show off work
The University of Arizona's senior student filmmakers will screen their short films at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., at 7 p.m. Saturday. The event is free.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org