[Source: Adam Klawonn and Aleksandra Chojnacka] — This past December, Phoenix debuted a new light rail system which has changed the physical and social landscape of the city. We believe this will create an entirely new culture of city residents who use mass transit and mobile devices to interact with the city. To accommodate them, CityCircles will use print, web and mobile technology to cater to these new commuters, offering news, events, promotions, and social networking features on a stop-by-stop basis so that they can interact with the city on a more meaningful level.
The idea developed in a digital media entrepreneurship class at Arizona State University and now here we are almost a year later and finally getting it off the ground thanks to funding we’ve received through the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge. Originally, the site was to be called Daily Phoenix. However, after many hours of brainstorming we settled on the name CityCircles, which we feel is a much better fit for the project’s function (building content around light rail stops – get it?) and its scope (the rail also travels through Tempe and Mesa). CityCircles is scheduled to launch in October 2009. We will be posting our progress, related news, and information about upcoming events at this website.
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Central Phoenix is home to three new media start-ups. The ventures are in the early stages, but they plan to put an ultra-local stamp on Valley radio, television and Internet news.
Radio Phoenix is an alternative to local stations, which are increasingly turning away from local music and local issues, said Kaja Brown, the fledging station’s general manager. “We are a community station that wants to speak to what it means to be Phoenician,” Brown said. About 1,500 to 1,800 people tune in to Radio Phoenix each month, Brown said.
Although the Radio Phoenix uses some non-local programs to fill in airtime, it plans to gradually add more homegrown shows. One of them is Joanne Foster’s “Valley Views,” a news show that is taped Mondays and replayed throughout the week. “I am a news junkie,” said Foster, who has interviewed outreach groups for the unemployed, state lawmaker Meg Burton Cahill and a refugee organizations on her show. Like many Radio Phoenix volunteers, the 47-year-old has dabbled in media careers. Foster is a former insurance adjuster who has done voice-over work in the past. “I think that it’s important for people to find out what going on in their community,” she added. “People are disconnected.”
Radio Phoenix may also eventually hit FM airwaves. The organization applied for two Federal Communications Commission frequencies. That process can be long and it’s unclear when the FCC will make a decision, Brown said.
CenPho TV. Meanwhile CenPho TV, wants to capture central Phoenix life on camera. Jacqui Johnson and partner Dave Brookhouser are the force behind the weekly video podcast. The segment covers news, upcoming events and highlights local music. The pair started the project in November. “We want to inform people about what’s going on and what they can do about it,” Johnson, 35 said.
Johnson, who moved from Tucson to Phoenix four years ago, fell in love with central Phoenix neighborhoods and was hungry for more news about proposed developments, local businesses and music. That curiosity, and Brookhouser’s idea for a podcast, led to the birth of CenPho TV. CenPho TV started out as just personal project. But now Johnson and Brookhouser have 2,000 followers on the Internet, Johnson said. Johnson and Brookhouser both have day jobs – Johnson is a an accountant and Brookhouser is an information technology guy, she said. A lot of their free time is spent creating the segment, but Johnson would love to figure out a way to do it full time, she said. “I would like it to evolve,” she said.
Light-rail news. A Valley company received a $95,000 grant this summer to start a news Web site that will focus on neighborhoods near the light-rail line. In December, a $1.4 billion light-rail system opened in the Valley. The 20-mile route links central Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Web site could be up as soon as November, said the content manager Adam Klawonn. The Web site was once tentatively called Daily Phoenix, but it’s likely that it will have some other name now, he said. “I chose that area because there is a lot going on there and there is a lot going on around light rail,” said Klawonn, who is an editor at Phoenix Magazine and who helps produce the Zonie Report, an Arizona news Web site.
The site is still in the planning stages. Readers will probably find news, information and promotions available at each light-rail stop, Klawonn said. The journalism grant comes from the Knight Foundation, an organization that spearheaded a $25 million News Challenge. The challenge is an international contest that funds digital news experiments. [Note: Read the full article at Media start-ups zero in on central Phoenix audiences.]