Ex-Citizen chief Chihak to host new KUAT show

2010-12-11T00:00:00Z Ex-Citizen chief Chihak to host new KUAT showPhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 11, 2010 12:00 am  • 

KUAT is launching a weekly TV news show and has tapped former Tucson Citizen publisher Michael Chihak as host.

Chihak's new show will be called "Arizona Week." A rotating round table of reporters from around the state with expertise on a particular subject will weigh in on the week's events.

Modeled after the PBS show "Washington Week," the show will air Fridays at 8:30 p.m. and launch sometime in January.

"Arizona Week" replaces the "Arizona Illustrated" Friday round table, hosted by Bill Buckmaster, who is leaving KUAT to host an AM radio show. Buckmaster hosts his final round table Friday.

"Michael knows news, and that's exactly what we wanted," Wendy Erica Werden, director of marketing and brand management for Arizona Public Media, said via e-mail. "If you were going to have one conversation on news of the week, Michael would be the person you'd want leading the discussion."

Chihak, 61, retired from the Citizen in 2008 to become executive director of the San Francisco nonprofit Communications Leadership Institute. He stepped down from that post in 2009 and studied culinary arts at the California Culinary Academy before moving back to Tucson with wife Hilda Oropeza in July, partially because the lease on their San Francisco apartment expired at the same time tenants in their Tucson home moved out.

"It was just the right time," Chihak said of his decision to return to town.

Chihak said he contacted AZPM's management when he heard Buckmaster was stepping down, asking if there was any way he could be involved with the show.

Werden said AZPM is impressed with Chihak's journalism background, which makes up for a lack of TV experience.

"We believe our audiences want the news to rest on the strength of journalistic expertise more than initial finesse in broadcast ability," Werden said. "Michael will be the first to tell you, he's eager and willing to absorb how to communicate on broadcast media."

Werden said AZPM is in discussions with KAET PBS Channel 8 in Phoenix to air "Arizona Week."

Chihak, who has never hosted a TV show, says he's nervous about trying something new, but is excited to be back in journalism.

"It's about the content. It's about the news and journalism," Chihak said. "The thing I'm looking forward to most is the opportunity to get back into journalism. I wasn't done having fun."

The job is part-time, and Chihak starts this week. He said AZPM is aiming for a Jan. 14 debut of "Arizona Week."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

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